Project #1: Ease the Stress of Court Days With Better Facilities

Child PACT support

Children and vulnerable witnesses often must wait for many hours inside a court building on the day they are scheduled to give evidence, until they are called to testify. This is the moment they’ve been preparing for since their legal journey began; the day they’ve been anxious about since the initial arrest was made.

Waiting to give evidence isn’t much fun at the best of times; waiting inside a sterile room can make it even more depressing and scary, and does nothing to lift spirits or keep young anxious minds distracted and entertained.

In many courts across Queensland, PACT has helped establish vulnerable witness rooms where children and their families can feel comfortable and safe while waiting to give evidence. These rooms are private spaces designed to shield child witnesses from the defendant and their supporters on the day of court. In metropolitan areas like Brisbane, these waiting rooms are well furnished, but in most of the remote courts, the witness waiting facilities are much sparser, if available at all.

Our goal is to ensure every child receives the same level of support, safety and comfort during their justice journey, regardless of their geographic location, by improving witness waiting facilities across the State. We aim to create welcoming, safe spaces with comfortable furniture as well as toys, activities and equipment to keep children calm, entertained, focused on the task ahead (giving evidence) and distracted from their anxiety.

How YOU can help:

  • Sponsor the fit-out of a vulnerable witness room or rooms in your local courthouse/region.

  • Become an in-kind sponsor and donate needed furniture, decorations, toys, electronics, activities and resources.

  • Make a donation towards fitting out a witness suite and we’ll use it to shop for the most-needed items.

Project #2: Educational Resources for Teenage Witnesses

Educational materials for young adults

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ― Marie Curie

Knowledge is power! One of PACT’s key support strategies is education and information to empower witnesses by helping them understand the legal system and what they can expect going through it. By explaining what is likely to happen, who the witness will meet during the court process and where they will go to give evidence, we reduce their fear of the unknown and lighten their burden of anxiety.

PACT has produced a range of in-depth materials and booklets on the role of a witness and how we provide support throughout the court process. These resources break down the complex legal system in a way specific audiences (young children and their carers/parents) can understand.

Our goal now is to create educational resources for teens specifically the 13-19 year old age group, using research-backed mediums that will best reach and engage with the teenage population.

How YOU can help:

  • Make a donation towards the cost of producing & printing educational resources for young people in the 13-19 age bracket.

  • Sponsor a book or an online educational course.

  • Become an in-kind sponsor for printing and other professional services (graphic design, legal consulting, etc.).

Project #3: Volunteer Recognition, Support & Training

volunteer recognition and training

We may be a little biased, but we feel that PACT volunteers are extra-level incredible! Ours is no ordinary volunteering gig; PACT volunteers perform next-level duties in the service of PACT, comforting, supporting and empowering children and young people who have experienced the most horrendous crimes. They take families under their wing who are in extreme stages of stress; relieving some of their fear by explaining the legal system in a way they can understand and showing them they are not alone through the journey.

Giving back to volunteers who give so much of themselves is high on our priority list. This includes extra skills training for volunteers and planning events that build a sense of community and foster peer support, which helps when coping with the vicarious trauma they are exposed to regularly when supporting victims through the justice system.

Our goal is to add to our library of online training courses, ensuring the most up-to-date information is accessible to volunteers. In 2022, we aim also to host a first-rate volunteer conference which will recognise the hard work of our volunteer team, celebrate client testimonials and take stock of the impact PACT’s work has on child victims and families. It’s also an opportunity to network across the sector and introduce stakeholders and partners to the PACT community.

How YOU can help:

  • Become a event/conference sponsor and help us create a top-notch learning, networking and celebratory event for volunteers and stakeholders working across the fields of legal, child protection and victim support.

  • Make a donation towards thanking our volunteers with moral-boosting events, special training days &/or creating online educational training courses.

  • Become a professional volunteer to develop training materials (graphic design, software development, consulting, etc.).

Project #4: Child Witness Support Dogs

Child Witness Support Dogs

PACT is exploring a partnership with Guide Dogs Queensland to run a pilot program using dogs to support children giving evidence.

Our hope – based on results from other court dog programs established nationally and internationally – is that having a Child Witness Support Dog present for children giving evidence will help to make the path just a bit easier for those forced to relive some of the most horrific experiences of their life, especially for child victims of sexual assault.

Our goal is that witnesses who have experienced severe trauma will feel safer and more comforted with a well-trained dog at their side, and therefore will provide better quality evidence.

Most people can identify with the positive feelings associated with having a loveable dog keeping them company. This is the sense of calm and reassurance we hope children will feel having a dog by their side as they give pre-recorded evidence in the Brisbane District and Supreme Courts.

A university researcher will evaluate the success of this pilot and publish the benefits of using dogs for child witness support. If the pilot goes well, we hope to expand this program – which is the first of its kind in Queensland – into other courts so more child witnesses can access the incredible benefits of having a support dog.

How YOU can help:

  • This is a brand new pilot program so there will be exciting opportunities to come on board as a Child Witness Support Dog sponsor or program donor once it is established as a permanent program.

Project #5: Increased Court Support for Adult Victims

Support for vulnerable adult victims

While traditionally our focus has been supporting children under the age of 18, there has been an increasing demand for court support for adult victims – particularly those in rural areas who have been affected by domestic or sexual violence.

For many adults, especially those in vulnerable situations who have suffered trauma, navigating the justice system and ultimately having to go to court to give evidence can be incredibly distressing and confusing.

PACT aims to greatly increase the specialised court support offered to vulnerable adult victims particularly of domestic abuse &/or crimes of a sexual or violent nature, the effects of which infiltrate communities and victims' children and families.

How YOU can help:

  • Make a donation towards helping PACT grow and establish the trauma-informed specialised court support available to adult victims, especially in regional and remote communities.

  • Become a program sponsor (PACT Partner) and help us develop the support offered to vulnerable adult witnesses in your region.

Project #6: Say “YES” to supporting children in other states & territories

Support for child victims

We know the need for better support exists for many vulnerable victims throughout the nation, especially for children who have to give evidence in the criminal justice system about alleged crimes that were done to them or which they witnessed. Through no fault of their own they are caught up in the stressful court process and forced to give evidence, a process which can take months and often years.

PACT is looking to fulfill these needs and reach those who currently do not have access to the same level of support our volunteers provide to child victims and vulnerable witnesses of any age in Queensland. The sky is truly the limit – what we can achieve for children, young people and families seeking justice, by supporting them throughout what may be the most stressful time in their lives, is life-changing.

PACT has an ambitious end goal: To ensure every child or vulnerable adult witness in Australia is supported through the stressful process of giving evidence, empowered throughout their justice journey. It's a big goal, and here's where we need your help.

How YOU can help:

  • Become a PACT Partner and work with us towards trail-blazing new court support programs where the need is greatest.

  • Donate – your $ will go a very long way towards helping PACT reach more child victims and witnesses of any age who are desperate for support as they navigate the complicated justice system.

  • Work in legal or government departments? Maybe you’re a politician, or work in the media. You can help us by opening doors, introducing us to decision makers and helping spread the word.