IDRS was successful in securing NSW Government funding for statewide Justice Advocacy Service (JAS) and a new nation-leading court-based diversion program. IDRS already delivers the JAS, from July 2022 JAS will expand its functions to include a court-based diversion service in the following six NSW local courts – Downing Centre, Parramatta, Blacktown, Penrith, Gosford and Lismore local courts.
The service will promote diversion orders under section 14 of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 for eligible defendants with a cognitive impairment. The new court-based diversion services will be delivered at six of NSW’s busiest Local Courts, providing a referral path from JAS for defendants with cognitive impairment accused of low-level offences who need diversion into treatment and support.
In June 2021 when announcing the funding NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the new court-based diversion services will build on the supports offered by JAS by providing more targeted assistance to people accused of low-level offences to get the treatment they need to help break the cycle of re-offending and boost community safety.
“People with cognitive impairment face significant challenges navigating the criminal justice system. JAS is improving access to justice for thousands of people and ensuring more compliance with police and court orders to help drive down re-offending,” Mr Speakman said. “We’ve heeded the evaluation’s findings and are delighted to be investing four years of additional funding to support some of the most vulnerable people in our justice system.”
An independent evaluation found that JAS significantly improved the outcomes for people with a cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system by helping them understand and navigate police, court and legal systems and supporting access to diversionary options. We anticipate a full media release from the NSW Attorney General in July 2022.
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2021 Media Release: Supporting people with cognitive impairment