Child Responsive Programme (CRP)
Except in very unusual circumstances, children do not give evidence (directly) to a court. Evidence about children’s views, needs or wishes can be provided via the affidavits of parents or others (via an exception to the hearsay rule that applies concerning things said by children), via an expert psychiatrist or psychologist (appointed by the court or via the court) or through the child responsive programme.
The child responsive programme is run by the Family Court (the process is different in the Federal Circuit Court) and involves a series of meetings between a court-appointed family consultant, the parents (and/or carers) and the child or children. The meetings focus on children’s needs. The purpose of the programme is to provide assistance to the parents and to the court to assist in resolving parenting issues and to achieve the best outcomes for children.
Where appropriate, a report will be prepared by the family consultant which will usually be provided to the parties (or their representatives) and to the court (and to any independent children’s lawyer). Often the family consultant will also be available at hearing to provide assistance to the court.