A forensic interview is a structured conversation held with the intention of obtaining accurate information about possible event(s) a child or vulnerable adult may have experienced. These events may including abuse, neglect or the witnessing of a violent crime. They are legally sound interviews which are conducted by a forensic interviewer.
Forensic Interviewers are trained to interview victims in a manner that is sensitive and appropriate to the victim's developmental, emotional, psychological, and cultural needs.
Following a referral from law enforcement or the Department of Child Safety we schedule an appointment for the forensic interviewer.
The interviewer obtains clear information without asking leading or suggestive questions while also providing a safe space for children to tell their stories.
Re-telling the story of their abuse can be traumatic for victims. The interview is recorded so a Victim only has to tell the story of what happened to them once.
Interviews are observed or available to each member of the Multidisciplinary team. Each has access to the same information so they can make informed decisions on their respective cases.
Questions about the Forensic Interview?
Some of the commonly asked questions include:
What should I tell my child about the interview?
It is helpful to tell them that someone wants to talk with them about what happened. It is important for your child to know that you support them and that they have your permission to tell the truth. It is equally important that you not rehearse with your child or tell them what they should or should not say. Simply instruct them to be honest and tell them that the person they will talk to is safe.
How long will the interview take?
The length of the interview depends on your child and how much they want to talk. Most interviews take between 20-60 minutes, though some do last longer. If your child needs a break or does not wish to continue, the interviewer will respond accordingly.
Can I watch or participate in the interview?
It is important for the interviewer to speak with your child alone. If your child experienced abuse, it may be difficult for them to talk about what happened if you are present. For this reason, and to protect the integrity of the investigation, only professional staff and members of the multi-disciplinary team may observe the interview.
What will I do during my child’s interview?
You will meet with an advocate who can answer your questions, explain your rights, and offer support during the interview. This staff member will be glad to listen to your concerns and offer referral for services to support you and your family throughout the process.
Will I find out what my child said?
Details from the interview must remain private until or unless law enforcement investigators share that information with you. This is for your child’s safety and to protect the integrity of the investigation. Your child may choose to share information about the incident or their interview, but we recommend that you do not ask questions or seek information.
What support is available for my child and our family?
Professional, evidence-based counseling services are available for children, with limited services also available to non-offending caregivers. If you are interested in these services, an advocate can assist you with getting connected with a counselor here or can offer a referral to an off-site agency, as appropriate.