People with cognitive impairment are vulnerable when in contact with the Criminal Justice System for several reasons. Importantly, vulnerability can arise first and foremost if the person’s cognitive impairment is not identified or recognised. This failure may exclude the person from accessing a range legal safeguards, processes and procedures which exist for the protection of their rights.
Our Justice Advocacy Service provides a free service for people with cognitive impairment who have been involved in any type of criminal matter (including AVOs); as a victim, witness, suspect or defendant.
We attract, recruit, train, and guide an extensive group of volunteers across New South Wales to provide our clients with support at Court, Police Stations and at legal appointments. We will arrange for one of our trained volunteers to meet clients at the police station, court or legal appointment.
Making a referral to our team is a simple
Call 1300 665 908 or go to our JAS page for our online referral.
Support for Victims of crime
Being a victim of crime can be a difficult and often traumatising experience. JAS can support victims or witnesses with cognitive impairment to:
- report a crime
- navigate their way through the criminal justice process by providing information and guidance from the time they become a victim until after the court process has finished.
24/7 Support for people in Police Custody
You can also access free legal advice if you are in Police custody from a member of our legal team. To access Justice Advocacy services, or legal advice when at the police station, call 1300 665 908 – 7 days a week. Our line is open 24 hours.
Support for defendants appearing at Court & legal appointments
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.
We can arrange for one of our trained volunteers to support people with cognitive impairment when appearing at Court, during meetings with their lawyer, Community Corrections Tribunal appointments, Community Justice Mediation, Youth Cautions and Youth Justice Conferences. This help is to ensure that young people and adults with cognitive impairment understand legal advice, court orders and their obligations.
Our trained volunteers known as a Support Person can help people with cognitive impairment to:
- remember their appointment and know what to expect
- understand and exercise their rights
- understand the options available to them
- 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 a person with cognitive impairment needs a Support Person to go with them to the Police Station or to Court; they might just need to talk to one of our team members over the phone about an issue. They will listen and depending on the issue may seek support from a solicitor, book the person in for legal advice or another IDRS service such as the NDIS Appeals team or make a referral 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.
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.