Preparing My Child to Attend a Meeting at the DPP

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My Child Has Been Asked to Attend a Meeting at the DPP. What Do I Need to Know?
Why is my Child Being Asked to Attend a Meeting at the DPP?
Who Will They Meet?
What Will Happen at This Meeting?
Where Will the Meeting Occur?
What Facilities Are Available?
How Long Will This Meeting Take?
Do I Need to Attend the Meeting With My Child?
Can I Be Present With My Child During The Meeting?
Should I Tell My Child About This Meeting?
How Can I Best Prepare and Support My Child For this meeting?
What should I tell my child about this meeting?
What Is My Role at This Meeting?
What Should I Inform the DPP About My Child?
Will My Child Be Asked Questions?
What Else Will My Child Be Asked To Talk About?
What If My Child Becomes Upset or Distressed?
What If I am A Witness in this Case?
Can I Ask Questions?
What If I Require Further Assistance or Support?

My Child Has Been Asked to Attend a Meeting at the DPP. What Do I Need to Know?

For young children and adolescents, attending a meeting at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) can be an unfamiliar and stressful experience.

Children and adolescents may not fully understand why they need to attend a meeting at our office. They can often feel frightened or anxious by the experience and overwhelmed when meeting with people they do not know.

It is important that children have the opportunity to understand and prepare for a meeting at the DPP in a way that best suits their particular needs.

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Why is my Child Being Asked to Attend a Meeting at the DPP?


As a victim of crime or witness for the prosecution, you and your child may be asked to attend a meeting at the DPP.

It is important that we speak with all victims of crime and many witnesses including young children, when criminal charges have been laid by Police, and when the matter is before the criminal court.

This will involve a ‘Meet and Greet’ where you and your child will meet with a Lawyer (Prosecutor) from the DPP who is working on the prosecution case involving the accused.

As a victim of a crime or a witness, your child is being asked to attend this meeting so they can:

  • Meet the staff involved in the case before the court
  • Receive information about what is happening and why
  • Tell us how they are feeling
  • Tell us what they want to happen
  • Ask questions
  • Receive support

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Who Will They Meet?


When attending a meeting at the DPP the Prosecutor who is dealing with the matter before the court will be present, as well as the Investigating Officer from the South Australian Police (SAPOL).

A Child Witness Assistance Officer (WAO) from the DPP will also be in attendance to provide direct support and assistance to your child.

WAO’s are experienced Social Workers who are specifically trained to assist children.

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What Will Happen at This Meeting?


A ‘Meet and Greet’ is an important meeting for you and your child to personally meet the Prosecutor and Witness Assistance Officer from the ODPP.

Establishing a good rapport with both you and your child is important to us, and will help in our ongoing interactions with you.

The Prosecutor and Witness Assistance Officer will provide you with information about their roles, the role of the DPP, the criminal justice system, the prosecution process and what is involved when of giving evidence at a trial.

This meeting will also provide an opportunity for you and your child to discuss how you are both feeling about the prosecution matter.

At this meeting you and your child can ask any questions that you may have about the matter, prosecution process or the criminal justice system.

In some cases, you and your child may be asked to come back for a further meeting with us. You will always be advised if this is the case.

Also, if your child provides any additional information about the offending or offences when speaking with us, they may be asked to attend a further interview with Child Protection Services or the Investigating Officer. Again, you will be advised is this is needed.

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Where Will the Meeting Occur?

In most cases, the majority of meetings with the DPP will occur at:

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP)
Level 7, 45 Pirie St, Adelaide
(08) 8207 1529

In certain circumstances a meeting may occur in a location that is more convenient to you.

You will be informed of the date, time and location of the meeting prior to the date it is scheduled.

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What Facilities Are Available?

If meeting at the DPP, there is a child friendly waiting area and meeting room. There are activities and toys for your child to enjoy during any waiting periods.

Unfortunately, the ODPP cannot provide childcare for other children in your care while you are in the meeting, therefore it is important that you make necessary arrangements prior to this.

This may involve making alternative child care arrangements or bringing someone with you who can provide care to your children or dependents.

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How Long Will This Meeting Take?


We are always mindful of the impact on your children when meeting new and unfamiliar people.

A meeting can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 90 minutes.

At the beginning of the meeting we will explain a number of things to your child including why we are meeting with them and how long the meeting should take

In understanding the needs of children, our aim is to keep the meeting as short as possible, but long enough for your child to become familiar and comfortable with us.

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Do I Need to Attend the Meeting With My Child?


Yes, it is strongly recommended that a parent, caregiver or support person attend with your child.

As the caregiver for the child, you are an important support and often a source of important information about your child’s needs.

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Can I Be Present With My Child During The Meeting?


Yes, you can be present for any general or procedural information. This also helps to reinforce this information at a later time if your child has questions.

However, when we speak with your child about their evidence it is important for legal reasons that we meet with them on their own.

If this occurs, we will ask you to sit in the near-by waiting room during this time.

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Should I Tell My Child About This Meeting?


Yes. It is highly recommended that tell your child about any meeting with the DPP and the reason for this.

Preparing your child to attend a meeting at the DPP will assist in reducing any hesitation or anxiety your child may experience.

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How Can I Best Prepare and Support My Child For this meeting?


It is crucial that your child is well supported by you throughout this process.

How you prepare your child will, of course, depend on their age and understanding. Keeping things simple, but clear will help to reduce their anxiety.

Your child may feel unsure about attending a meeting at the DPP and having to meet with unfamiliar people.

We know that children cope better when:

  • they are well supported in the process,
  • they are informed about what is happening and why,
  • they are not pressured by others,
  • they have some choice about what is to happen,
  • their views and wishes are taken seriously,
  • they have appropriate parental/guardian support in place, and
  • they have access to resources and professional support.

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What should I tell my child about this meeting?

There is no specific script for what you should tell your child.

You know your child best so it’s important that you relay information in a way you think is best to them.

It is important to tell your child:

  • Why we are meeting with them,
  • Where we are meeting,
  • Who they will meet at this meeting,
  • How long the meeting should take,
  • That they will not be pressured to talk about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable,
  • That there will be a special support person for them whose job is to look after them and make sure they are okay,
  • That the meeting will be guided by how they are feeling,
  • That they are not in trouble, and
  • That their wellbeing is the most important thing

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What Is My Role at This Meeting?


Your primary role at this meeting is to support your child and act in their best interests.

It is common for parents to be impacted by what has happened to their child. Supports are available for parents and can be offered to you. However it is important to recognise that this meeting may be stressful for your child.

Wherever possible, time will be made available for you to raise any concerns you may have in the absence of your child.

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What Should I Inform the DPP About My Child?


It is important for the DPP to be aware of any matters impacting on the health, functioning or wellbeing of your child prior to the meeting. This may include if your child has:

  • A physical or intellectual disability,
  • A learning or communication issue,
  • A mental health issue,
  • Anxiety about attending a meeting at the DPP,
  • Does not want to proceed with the matter,
  • Is demonstrating behaviours that are not usual for them,
  • Any other matters that you believe may be important

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Will My Child Be Asked Questions?


Yes, the Prosecutor and Witness Assistance Officer may have a number of questions they need to ask your child in order to help us and your child in the legal process.

They will likely be asked about school, hobbies, and activities in order to get a sense of how comfortable they are in speaking with adults.

This will occur in a warm, friendly, and non-threatening manner. Our experienced staff use child-friendly language, and are sensitive to your child’s developmental needs. We have a number of resources available to assist your child with this process.

Your child will not be required to talk about what has happened to them on the first occasion they meet with us. However, if for some reason we need to do this, we will discuss this with both you and your child.

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What Else Will My Child Be Asked To Talk About?

Your child may be asked to talk about a number of things during a meeting including how they are feeling about the prosecution and their worries and concerns.

They will also be asked about their feelings and views about attending court to talk about what happened to them.

Your Witness Assistance Officer will also discuss counselling and supports available to your child.

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What If My Child Becomes Upset or Distressed?


It is important to remember that staff from the DPP are very experienced in talking with children.

Our staff will respond quickly and carefully should your child become upset or distressed.

You will always be advised if this occurs.

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What If I am A Witness in this Case?


Being a witness in the case involving your child does not prevent you from providing information and support to them.

However, it is very important that you do not discuss or talk about your evidence with your child; or discuss or talk about your child’s evidence with them.

Doing so may cause problems for the prosecution case.

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Can I Ask Questions?


You and your child can feel free to ask any questions that you may have about the prosecution process or the criminal justice system at any time.

It may help to write down any questions you have so you don’t forget to ask these during the meeting.
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What If I Require Further Assistance or Support?


If you have further questions about attending a meeting at the DPP you may contact the Witness Assistance Officer allocated to you and your child, the Investigating Officer (SAPOL), or ODPP Prosecutor.

If you cannot recall the names of DPP staff allocated to your matter, ODPP Reception Staff (8207 1529) should be able to assist you.
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