A person with cognitive impairment has the legal right to have a support person at the police station or in court; unfortunately, this right is not always upheld.
Our Justice Support team provide a free service for people with cognitive impairment who have been involved in any type of criminal matter (including AVOs); as a victim, witness or defendant.
We attract, recruit, train, and guide an extensive group of volunteers across New South Wales to provide clients with Court and Police Station support. Court and Police Station support means that we will arrange for one of our trained volunteers to meet clients at the police station or at court.
You can also access free legal advice when at the police station from a member of our legal team. To access Justice Support services, or legal advice when at the police station call 1300 665 908 – 7 days a week from 9am to 10pm.
In addition, we can arrange for one of our trained volunteers to provide help for clients during solicitor meetings, Community Corrections Tribunal appointments, Community Justice Mediation and Juvenile Justice Conferences. This help is to ensure that clients understand legal advice, court orders and obligations.
Our trained volunteers known as your Support Person can help you to:
- remember your appointment and know what to expect
- understand and exercise your rights
- understand the options available to you
- obtain and understand legal advice
- raise individual needs
- appropriately contribute to proceedings
- understand outcomes, conditions and consequences,
- remain calm and reduce anxieties,
- complete any paperwork required, and
- arrange referrals or follow-up appointments if required.
It may not always be the case that you need a Support Person to go with you to the Police Station or to Court; you might just need to talk to one of our team members over the phone about an issue. They will listen to you and depending on the issue may seek support from a solicitor, book you in for a legal advice or another IDRS service such as the NDIS Appeals team or refer you to another service provider.
To be eligible for IDRS services you must be a person with cognitive impairment living in New South Wales, there is no formal application or assessment process to access our services.
Making a referral to our team is a simple Three Step process:
2. Ensure you have the following information about the person who needs support:
- Full name
- Name of the opposing party, if applicable. This is so we can ensure no conflict of interest
- Type of matter. Why the person needs to go to court or be at a police station
- The names and contact details of the persons family members, advocates, carers or other relevant contacts
- Date, time and location on which the matter is listed
- A summary as best you can of the person’s ability to communicate and to understand what is being communicated to them
The ‘So You Have To Go To Court Kit’ was produced by the Diversity Services of Department of Justice. The kit is a resource that was developed for people with cognitive disabilities and includes a 25-minute video.