Transforming the communication involved in justice processes in New Zealand

Ms Sally Kedge11
11Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ , -, New Zealand

“Half the time I have no clue as to what’s being said but I’ll just agree with it just to get out of there because I’m embarrassed about situations…”

Significant communication issues are faced by many involved with the courts. The implications of ‘just agreeing’ can be grave. People need to fully participate in the talk-based interactions integral to justice and rehabilitation processes e.g. Court processes, Family Group Conferences, counselling.

This presentation will outline some key recent developments underway to address the communication issues faced by many involved with legal processes in New Zealand:

1) Court-appointed Communication Assistants (similar to Intermediaries in some jurisdictions) are now sometimes appointed to assist the Courts to communicate effectively with vulnerable complainants, witnesses and defendants in Crossover (combined Family Court and Youth Courts), Youth, District and High Courts.

2) Oranga Tamariki/Talking Trouble Youth Justice Communication Projects, developed by our team to create accessible communication environments. Our speech-language therapists (SLTS) work in partnership with youth justice (YJ) professionals to enable young people and their families to understand and participate in YJ processes more successfully. These projects have progressed from pilot stage to projects underway in 8 sites around NZ, with more planned.

3) SLT involvement in the development of new justice initiatives, e.g. Specialist Remand Care for young people. In this project, staff are equipped to recognise and address communication needs, and develop appropriate resources and strategies to help young people have a say, understand and fully participate in interventions designed to help them.


Sally Kedge runs Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ (TTANZ), a team of SLTs passionate about making communication easier for children, young people and adults involved with care and protection, justice, behaviour and mental health services in New Zealand. Sally has been appointed as a Communication Assistant for complainants and defendants in High, District and Youth Court, and in related settings such as Family Group Conferences and Restorative Justice processes. She provides speech-language therapy and professional development for others, and delivers innovative projects to equip professionals with knowledge, skills and resources so people can have their say, understand and effectively participate.

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