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.



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.

People with cognitive disability face loss of justice system support, ProBonno Australia

NSW pledges $28 million to help cognitively impaired people navigate justice system, The Sydney Morning Herald

Disability legal service extended in NSW, ABC NewsRadio.

More ways you can help

  • 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

    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

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

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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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