About the Step by Step Guide to making a section 32 application for a person with intellectual disability.
People with intellectual disability are significantly over represented in the NSW criminal justice system. Research conducted in four Local Courts in NSW found that 14.2 per cent of those coming before the court were people with intellectual disability, while a further 8.8 per cent were found to have borderline intellectual functioning (New South Wales Law Reform Commission, People with an intellectual disability and the Criminal Justice System: Appearances Before Local Courts, research Report 4, 1993) Whilst it is clear that lawyers in the Local Courts are regularly representing clients with intellectual disability in criminal matters, IDRS experience suggests there is often very limited information about supporting these clients.
This guide aims to provide a practical resource to assist lawyers across NSW to effectively prepare and make applications under s 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (NSW) (MHFPA) on behalf of their clients with intellectual disability. This includes information about communicating with a person with intellectual disability and information about support services that may be available to those clients including information about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Program (CIDP).
This guide is prepared and written by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS). IDRS is a disability advocacy and community legal service that provides legal assistance and advocacy services to people with intellectual disability throughout NSW. IDRS services include the provision of legal advice and legal representation. IDRS advocates for policy and law reform and provides legal education to advance the rights of people with intellectual disability. IDRS also operates Justice Support (JS) which provides trained volunteers to support people with cognitive impairments (including intellectual disability), when they come into contact with the criminal justice system. This includes at the police station, in court and in interviews with lawyers. Through both of these services IDRS has gained considerable knowledge, experience and expertise of the issues and barriers facing alleged offenders and their legal representatives in appearing before the Local Courts particularly in relation to section 32 of the MHFPA.
Although the focus of this guide is on providing legal assistance to people with intellectual disability, the MHFPA permits section 32 applications to also be made for people diagnosed with mental illness, mental conditions and other cognitive impairments and much of the information in the guide will also be applicable to lawyers representing those client groups.