The NSW Government is investing $10 million over two years in a new statewide service to help people with cognitive impairment navigate the criminal justice system.
Attorney General Mark Speakman and Minister for Disability Services Ray Williams today announced the opening of a tender for the Justice Advocacy Service, which will support victims, witnesses, suspects and defendants in police custody.
“This important new service will assist people with cognitive impairment to understand their rights and communicate clearly when giving police statements and evidence in court,” Mr Speakman said.
Mr Speakman said the Justice Advocacy Service would be available to victims with cognitive impairment from the time a crime occurs until the end of the legal process.
“Support workers will explain to victims and witnesses how they can report a crime and be at their side when they attend a police station,” Mr Speakman said.
“The Justice Advocacy Service will also talk to defendants about bail conditions and Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders so they understand what’s required of them, which will help reduce the risk of unintentional breaches.”
Mr Williams said assistance will be available in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas, reaching a broader range of people in need of help.
“Previous services of this kind were for people with an intellectual disability, but the Justice Advocacy Service will also support people with acquired brain injury, dementia, autism spectrum disorder and other forms of cognitive impairment,” Mr Williams said.
“Support for these groups is vital because people with cognitive impairment are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and are particularly vulnerable.”
For more information about the tender for the Justice Advocacy Service, visit www.tenders.nsw.gov.au