Children in Kelowna will soon be able to testify in court remotely

Remote testimony for kids

It will soon be less painful for children to testify against abusers in Kelowna.

The Child Advocacy Centre says it is in the final phase of completing the development of an onsite room that's dedicated to hosting remote testimony for children who are required to testify in cases related to abuse.

"This is a monumental shift in the way we support children, our team and partners along with our colleagues from Advocacy Centres across the province have been advocating for these changes for some time now," said Ginny Becker, executive director of the Child Advocacy Centre.

"For far too long the system that responds to cases of child abuse has not been well designed to meet the needs of vulnerable children. Imagine the courage it takes for a child to tell this kind of truth, and then imagine what it would feel like to walk the hallways of the courthouse as a little person."

Becker says the new system will put the needs of children first.

The British Columbia Prosecution Service says it supports the initiative.

"Providing a remote testimony room will be a helpful local resource for those occasions where the circumstances support an application to allow victims or witnesses to testify outside the courtroom," said Chris Balison, deputy regional Crown counsel.

A news release from the Child Advocacy Centre quotes an unnamed victim services worker in Kelowna.

"I have participated in the court process with countless victims, it is always hard, but it is especially so with kids," says Chantelle Kellerman, with the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society.

The push for the space was led by several local law firms: Pihl Law Corp, Rush Ihas Hardwick LLP, Pushor Mitchell LLP, Ascent Employment Law, Eyford Partners LLP, Davidson Lawyers LLP and some very generous community members.

It is hoped the space will be ready and functional some time in November.

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