The Witness Assistance Services (WAS) works with victims of crime, witnesses for the prosecution, and their immediate families in matters dealt with by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The WAS provides information, assistance and support as well as making sure victims and witnesses are aware of their rights and responsibilities when dealing with the criminal justice system.
The WAS provides services in metropolitan Adelaide, as well as regional and remote areas, including Port Augusta, the Riverland and Mount Gambier.
Witness Assistance Officers
Witness Assistance Officers (WAOs) work with victims of crime including:
- adult, adolescent and child victims of crime
- prosecution witnesses
- parents of child victims (non-offending)
- immediate family of deceased victims
- significant others.
They will work especially closely with victims and witnesses who are more vulnerable due to the nature of the offences and those with special needs.
WAOs are your key point of contact with the ODPP. They advocate for your needs within the DPP and will advise you of your rights, responsibilities and avenues for complaints.
You will usually have the same WAO throughout the whole process.
Services and supports
The WAS provides a range of targeted support to victims throughout the court process.
The WAS will:
The WAS may also refer victims and witnesses to the Court Support Program - this is where a trained volunteer can be allocated to support you in court.
Your WAO can also help you if you need to travel long distances to give evidence. In some cases, the police can make travel and accommodation arrangements on your behalf, and cover the cost.
The WAS will undertake social work assessments with the victim to determine:
- the impact of crime
- their coping and wellbeing
- any mental health concerns
- their support structures
- any additional assistance needed.
They will also provide crisis support and referral information.
The WAS also provides education and training to external agencies and members of the community.
Making a referral
The WAS allocates referrals on a priority basis. All victims and witnesses under the age of 18 years are required to be referred to the WAS.
Referrals to the WAS can come from a number of sources including:
- solicitors and prosecutors within the ODPP
- a member of the police or other government services
- the Victims of Crime Court Support Program
- external agencies and non-government services (e.g. Yarrow Place, Victim Support Service).
You can also make a referral yourself if you are a victim or witness.
To make a referral please contact the Duty Witness Assistance Officer on (08) 8207 1529 or 1800 505 404.
After WAS receives a referral, staff will make contact to determine the support and involvement required.