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Communication Assistance Forum

Communication Assistance Forum
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Communication assistance is a key tool to help court participants who have communication difficulties to access justice.

This FREE full-day forum for lawyers will detail how communication assistance works – and how to recognise when it is needed.

From the Chair

The publication of the July 2021 Communication Assistance Quality Framework by the Ministry of Justice will bring about a great improvement in the experience of court participants. It’s of great benefit for lawyers too, who now have access to information to guide their understanding of whether, why and when their client may need a communication assistant in order to give their best evidence, and how to arrange and work with one. This forum provides a perfect chance for any lawyer to learn about all aspects of communication assistance, work through some examples and ask questions in a learning environment. I strongly encourage you to attend and look forward to seeing you there.

Chair: Judge Nevin Dawson


The first part of the forum will cover in detail how lawyers can recognise flags that may indicate that a participant needs a communication assistant. This is a key skill for all lawyers as part of ensuring their clients have access to justice.

The forum will then cover in detail the practical aspects of the Communication Assistance Framework, including:

  • What the Communication Assistant (CA) role is and isn’t
  • How CA’s are engaged by the Ministry of Justice and requirements for protecting legally privileged information
  • Treaty of Waitangi, Human Rights and Evidence Act framework for the service
  • Initiating an application
  • Using the application form
  • Working with a CA
  • Why the lawyer should attend the assessment
  • What to do if the lawyer wants to keep a witness’s identity confidential
  • Why multiple CAs may be appointed
  • Types of special measures that may be recommended and why
  • How a CA may be involved in an appeal
  • Complaints and monitoring of CA quality.
Download programme for the day

Learning objectives

By attending this forum you will:

  • Become aware of the communication assistance service and when to use it.
  • Know how and when to initiate applications for communication assistance.
  • Be more confident in working with communication assistants to ensure participants can understand proceedings and give evidence.


The forum will include a mix of presentations, discussion and comment from all presenters. You will be able to ask questions in advance and during the forum.

Links to key documents, the full programme, and the email address for questions are on the course resources page. View resources


We recommend you spend at least an hour preparing for the forum.

View forum resources


  • Chair: His Honour Judge Nevin Dawson, District Court, Auckland
  • Michelle Bonetti, Moretalk, Whangārei
  • Emily Henderson MP, Whangārei
  • Sally Kedge, Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ, Auckland
  • Michaela Maguire, Moretalk, Canterbury/ West Coast
  • Amanda McFadden, Beam Clear Thinking, Auckland
  • Chris Merrick, Matariki Chambers, Auckland
  • Julia Wright, Talking Trouble Aotearoa NZ, Auckland


The forum is on Wednesday 13 April at Ellerslie Event Centre or you can attend online. There will be breaks for refreshments and lunch. A detailed programme will be provided on the course webpage by 14 March.

  • Registration 8.30am
  • Sessions begin 9.00am
  • Sessions end 4.00pm
  • Note Live Web Stream registrations close 3.00pm Tuesday 12 April

Who should attend

All lawyers working in criminal, civil and family courts.

Fee (incl GST)


  • This programme is offered free of charge - but you must still register.
  • Live web stream registrations close 3pm Tuesday 12 April.

Download PDF Brochure & registration form

Sponsored by 

MOJ Logo

Auckland 13 April
Live Web Stream 13 April

Cancellation and refund policy

You may cancel your registration eight working days in advance of an event, and you will receive a refund less a 25% administration fee. If you cancel less than eight working days in advance of the event, no refund is payable. If you are unable to attend, you may transfer your registration to another person. If you wish to do so you must advise CLE in writing of the change. NZLS CLE Ltd reserves the right to close registrations, and, cancel or reschedule an event as necessary. Where an event is cancelled by CLE, a full refund is payable.
freephone (within NZ)
0800 333 111

[email protected]

04 472 7837
Level 4, 17-21 Whitmore Street
Wellington 6011

DX SP 20202
PO Box 5041
Wellington 6140
New Zealand