If you have an intellectual disability or another cognitive disability like autism or acquired brain injury then you need specialist support if you come into contact with the police and the courts.

The Justice Advocacy Service (JAS), run by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) provides support to people with cognitive disability who are victims of crime, witnesses or accused of crimes. JAS helps people understand what is happening and  how to exercise their rights.

For three years until June 2020, IDRS also ran the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Programme (CIDP) in two courts. This programme went a step further than JAS. It worked really well to link people into the supports they needed for a good life and to keep them out of trouble with the law. This meant magistrates did not need to punish people and send them to jail.

Expert support can make all the difference. People need support in police interviews and in court. But is the NSW Government committed to providing this specialist support for people with cognitive disability?

The funding for the Justice Advocacy Service (JAS) run by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) ends in June this year. This is a critically important state-wide service and we call on the NSW government to confirm it will continue.

The State Government stopped funding the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Programme (CIDP) in June 2020. However, the Department of Communities and Justice recognises the importance of a programme like the CIDP and the value of extending it to more courts. Now we need them to act on this.

In the June 2021 budget, we want a guarantee that the JAS programme will continue and a commitment from the NSW government to roll out a state-wide diversion programme like the CIDP.

An ongoing state-wide JAS and a new state-wide diversion programme will mean that people with cognitive disability will have a fair go as victims, witnesses or people accused of crimes. There will be less offending and less people with cognitive disability going to jail.

Indigenous Australians will get more of a fair go. Over 25% of the clients of the Justice Advocacy Service and CIDP have been Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

 

Media

Justice support scheme for cognitively impaired youth and adults at risk, The Sydney Morning Herald. 

Government relied on limited cost benefit analysis in axing diversion program 20210, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Disability Royal Commission: Former prisoners with disabilities seek to end the cycle, The Canberra Times.

 

More ways you can help

  • Call your MP Call your MP

    Email and/or phone the NSW Attorney General, Mark Speakman and ask him to fund the two programmes. Contact details and a lobbying guide are here.

     

  • Postcard signatures Postcard signatures

    Collect postcard signatures to send to Mark Speakman’s office. Email us at advocacy@cid.org.au and tell us how many postcards you want us to send you.

  • Tell others Tell others

    Share our campaign on Facebook, Twitter or your preferred social media using the sharing buttons on this page.

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Sign the petition

To the NSW Attorney General, Mark Speakman
NSW Parliament House
Sydney

Dear Attorney General Mark Speakman,

The overrepresentation and disadvantage experienced by people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system has been long recognised.

If you have an intellectual disability or another cognitive disability like autism or acquired brain injury then you need specialist support if you come into contact with the police and the courts.

Targeted support of people with cognitive disability can have a major, positive impact.

The Justice Advocacy Service (JAS) run by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) and provides that targeted support to people with cognitive disability who are victims of crime, witnesses or accused of crimes. JAS helps people understand what is happening and exercise their rights.

The current funding of the Justice Advocacy Service ends in June. This is a critically important statewide service and we call on the Attorney General to confirm it will continue.

For three years, IDRS also ran the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Programme (CIDP) in two courts. This programme went a step further than JAS. It linked people into the supports they needed for a good life and to keep out of trouble with the law. This gave magistrates confidence to make diversionary orders rather than impose jail sentences and other penalties. Diversion orders were made in over 66% of cases.

The Department of Communities and Justice stopped funding the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Programme in June 2020. However, the Department recognised the importance of a programme like the CIDP and the value of extending it to more courts.

In the coming budget, we call on the government to commit to rolling out a statewide diversion programme for people with cognitive disabilities facing criminal charges.

It is critical that Indigenous Australians receive the benefit of programmes like JAS and CIDP. Encouragingly, over 25% of the clients of JAS and CIDP have been Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

Attorney General, we urge you to meet with the Council for Intellectual Disability and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service to ensure that the 2021 state budget includes necessary funding for:
• support of people with cognitive disability in their dealings with police and the courts as victims, witnesses or people accused of crimes, and
• diversion of alleged offenders from the courts into support from the NDIS and other human services.

Thank you,

%%your signature%%



Find out more information about Justice Matters on https://cid.org.au/our-campaigns/justice-matters/ ‎
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Justice Matters Lobbying Guide

 

The Justice Matters campaign collaborators:

CID, IDRS, FPDN and JRI logos.

References. Data on this page come from:

 *  NSW Law Reform Commission – People with Cognitive and Mental Health Impairments in

the Criminal Justice System, Diversion, 2012

* IDRS annual report 2019-2020

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