IBAC Insights (newsletter)

IBAC’s witness liaison measures

IBAC's statutory functions are to expose and prevent serious and systemic corrupt conduct and police misconduct. In performing these functions and given the serious nature of the matters IBAC considers, we recognise that people involved in or subject to our investigations and examinations may be under a level of stress.

We have a range of measures and support services in place that witnesses can access throughout the investigation, however in our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement we will always work to improve the practices that support both complainants and witnesses.

Last year we undertook a review of IBAC’s current practices identified opportunities for improvement, including:

  • clear communication with witnesses and peoples of interest during the non-investigative phase
  • currency and consistency of policies, procedures, and other supporting documentation
  • support and advice for frontline personnel when needs of individuals are complex or escalate unexpectedly.

Earlier this year, IBAC updated its Witness Wellbeing Policy. The policy sets out IBAC’s expectations about the wellbeing of witnesses, people of interest, and others who may be impacted by IBAC's duties and functions.

The policy is backed by a wellbeing procedure that guides IBAC officers on the best way to support witnesses throughout the process. It aims to improve witness safeguards and communication across divisions of IBAC to improve the witness experience.

IBAC has also established a dedicated witness liaison team, which includes a witness liaison manager and two witness liaison officers. The witness liaison team formed in early February 2023 and works closely with investigators, lawyers and other IBAC officers to identify, assess, and manage risks to the wellbeing of witnesses involved in an investigation.

The witness liaison team will develop engagement plans to support regular communication with witnesses at all stages throughout an investigation, including during the drafting and tabling of a report, and, if applicable, any subsequent prosecution.

Witness liaison officers will also provide witnesses with information about, or referrals to, external counselling services and resources but will not provide counselling or have a therapeutic relationship with witnesses.

IBAC is rolling out training to support IBAC officers to identify, assess and manage psychological wellbeing risks to witnesses, people of interest and others involved in IBAC’s operations. This training will be targeted at IBAC's frontline employees and people managers and will be delivered across the organisation by 30 June 2023.

Given the significant powers IBAC has, the community rightly expects that these powers will be cautiously and diligently exercised while ensuring that proper regard is given to the wellbeing and safety of all who are affected by the exercise of such powers.  IBAC is committed to these objectives.