Access to Justice Database

Background

In February 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission launched its report Equal before the law: Towards disability justice strategies. The report identified a range of problems that exist in the criminal justice system which result in people with disability not having the benefit of equality before the law. The report also contained examples of programs and services that assist people with disability in the criminal justice system.

In early March 2014, a call was put out for people to submit examples of programs and services that assist people with disability in the criminal justice system.

Our aim is to facilitate the process of information sharing between different jurisdictions, with the hope of encouraging states and territories to develop a holistic, over-arching Disability Justice Strategy.

Access to Justice Database

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Social Policy Research Centre are developing the Access to Justice Database, a national list of programs and services that assist people with disability in the criminal justice system.

Existing services and programs that help people with disability to participate in the criminal justice system include:

  • early intervention programs
  • programs and services which aim to prevent violence against people with disability
  • services and supports in police stations, courts and custodial settings
  • diversionary measures
  • disability training programs for police, judges and correctional officers
  • policies and frameworks in the criminal justice system which aim to improve access to justice for people with disability.

If you have a disability and require confidential advice on legal issues, please contact your local Legal Aid network. If you have experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying because of a disability, please contact the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Nominate a new program or service

To keep the Access to Justice Database as complete and up-to-date as possible, we would like your input about services and programs that help people with disability to participate in the criminal justice system.

Nominate a new service or program

Courts

Assessment and Referral Court List, Melbourne Magistrates’ Court (VIC) Designed to meet the needs of accused persons who have a mental illness and/or a cognitive impairment Link to resource
Court Integrated Services Program (VIC) Provides the person with disability appearing before court with a variety of services and supports such as social welfare, mental health, housing services and drug treatment Link to resource
Court Network, Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General (QLD) Provides information, support and referral services to court users. Volunteers support victims of crime, people accused of crime, people who require support in the court, adults and children who have been violated or exploited by crime and litigants who have little or no support in the court system. Link to resource
Court Referral of Eligible Defendants into Treatment, NSW Local Courts (NSW) Targets adult defendants at the Local Court who want to address underlying issues related to their offending behaviour. Those identified as at risk of re-offending undergo case management and are referred to educational, training, treatment or social welfare services. Link to resource (PDF)
CREDIT Bail Support Program, Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (VIC) Seeks to increase the likelihood of a defendant being granted bail and successfully completing a bail period Link to resource
Diversions List, Magistrate's Court of Tasmania (TAS) Specialist court list targeting defendants with mental illness/impaired intellectual functioning. It operates with dedicated Magistrates in the Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie registries of the Magistrates Court and enables Magistrates to deliver a more therapeutic response to defendants whose offending behaviour is connected to mental health issues, cognitive disability, or acquired brain injury. Link to resource
Duty Lawyer Handbook, Legal Aid Queensland (QLD) Provides guidance to duty lawyers on dealing with criminal law clients who have, or may have, an intellectual or cognitive disability Link to resource
Equal Treatment Benchbook (various jurisdictions) A number of states, including Queensland and Western Australia have an equal treatment benchbook which provide practical information for judges about trial management, supports and aids and useful contacts to support people with disability in court

QLD resource (PDF)


WA (PDF) resource

Family Violence Applicant Support Workers, Department of Justice, Victoria (VIC) Applicant Support Workers are social workers in Victoria’s Specialist Family Violence Magistrates Court who prioritise working with women with disabilities to assist them in applying for an intervention order Link to resource

Intellectual Disability Diversion Program, Perth Magistrates’ Court (WA) Program which operates in the Perth Magistrates’ Court offering personalised case management and support for adults with a cognitive or intellectual disability who plead guilty Link to resource
Justice Support Program, Disability Advocacy and Information Service (VIC) Offers court support to people with any type of disability in certain local government areas Link to resource
Justice Support Program, Queensland Advocacy Organisation, (QLD) Provides non-legal advocacy for people with a disability who are involved in the criminal justice system. The Advocates help the person to access available legal services, however the focus is on advocating for the person to access the community supports that will help to prevent the problem re-occurring. Link to resource
Life on Track, NSW Local Courts (NSW) Case management service that will tailor personalised plans for people with disability appearing in court and link them to appropriate supports and services in the community Link to resource
Magistrates’ Court Diversion Program (SA) Targets adults who have an intellectual or psychiatric disability. The program provides an opportunity for eligible individuals to voluntarily address their mental health, disability needs and any offending behaviours while legal proceedings are adjourned. Link to resource
Magistrate’s Early Referral into Treatment, NSW Local Courts (NSW) Program available in the Local Court to give adult defendants with drug or alcohol problems the opportunity to undertake a voluntary rehabilitation program as part of the bail process Link to resource
Mental Health Court Liaison Service (VIC) Court-based assessment and advice service Link to resource
Mental Health Court Diversion and Support Program, Perth Magistrates Court and the Perth Children’s Court (WA) Employs mental health specialist teams in the court to provide assessments, liaison with community services and develop individualised plans to support people with a psychiatric disability in the criminal justice system Link to resource
Mental Health Diversion List, Tasmanian Magistrates’ Court (TAS) Open to defendants who have impaired intellectual or mental functioning as a result of a mental illness charged with summary offences Link to resource
Mental Health Unit, Legal Aid Queensland (QLD) Provides advice and representation to persons who may be unfit to plead, or unfit to stand trial, or who may have a defence to a criminal charge arising from an intellectual or cognitive disability or mental impairment Link to resource
Neighbourhood Justice Centre (VIC) Australia’s only community court. A number of different courts sit within the centre along with a 'one stop shop' of community services. Link to resource
Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, Redfern Legal Centre (NSW) Assists women and children to obtain protection of domestic violence court orders, makes referrals to appropriate services, including legal services, works with domestic violence duty solicitor at court and assists female defendants in certain circumstances (eg. vulnerable clients or client identyifing as primary victim) Link to resource
Treatment Intervention Program, South Australian Magistrates’ Court (SA) An integrated intervention program for defendants with a psychiatric disability and/or substance dependence Link to resource
Youth on Track, NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice (NSW) Early intervention program with an holistic approach identifies and responds young people at risk of criminal offence or who may already be in the criminal justice system Link to resource

Custodial settings

Aboriginal Visitors Scheme, Department of Corrective Services Western Australia (WA) Independent prison visitor scheme where an Aboriginal volunteer is appointed to monitor the treatment of Aboriginal people held in custody and police lock-ups. They offer basic counselling and will inform the Officer-in-Charge of any urgent medical needs. Link to resource
Acquired Brain Injury Program, Corrections Victoria (VIC) Conducts screenings to identify offenders with an acquired brain injury by an acquired brain injury clinician. Link to resource (PDF)
ACSO (VIC) Provides pre- and/or post-release support to people in prison with cognitive impairments, including employment assistance for people leaving prison. Link to resource
Community Integration Team, NSW Justice Health (NSW) Provides pre- and post-release care to recently released juveniles, many of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander juveniles with serious psychiatric disabilities Link to resource
Community Justice Program, NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (NSW) Focuses on the provision of accommodation, case management and behavioural support for young people and adults with an intellectual disability exiting correctional centres. This includes support for people on remand or bail conditions. Link to resource (PDF)
Community Treatment Team, Corrections Victoria (VIC) Provides statewide treatment and support for offenders with a disability on post-sentence regimes Link to resource (PDF)
Disability Pathways Program Corrections Victoria (VIC) Delivers offence-specific (violence and sex offending) and offence-related programs for people with disability by a specialist prison clinical team Link to resource (PDF)
Governor’s Disciplinary Hearing program, Corrections Victoria (VIC) Provides independent support to ensure that all prisoners with disability understand the process if they are required to appear at a Governor’s Disciplinary Hearing Link to resource (PDF)
Inclusion Sexual Offending Program, Queensland Corrective Services (QLD) Provides a sexual offending treatment intervention program for offenders with a cognitive impairment or low intellectual functioning
Inside Access, Mental Health Legal Service (VIC) Assists mentally ill prisoners make the transition to community through the delivery of a complementary framework of community legal education, civil law assistance (casework) as well as law, policy and practice reform activities Link to resource
Legal and Social Awareness Program, Department of Corrective Services, Western Australia (WA) Legal and social awareness program for prisoners with an intellectual disability
Mentoring program, Corrections Victoria (VIC) Developed at Loddon and Port Phillip Prisons in Victoria. The Disability Pathways Program team conduct a formal recruitment and selection process, ongoing training and regular supervision to ensure suitable prisoners are selected and supported in the mentoring role. Link to resource (PDF)
Multiple and Complex Needs Initiative, Corrections Victoria (VIC) Provides support to people with multiple and highly complex disabilities in the community and in prison Link to resource (PDF)
Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services (WA) Independent statutory body that answers directly to Parliament and provides external scrutiny of custodial services and thematic reviews of prison-related issues in WA Link to resource
Prisoner Employment Programs - Sentenced to a Job, Department of Correctional Services, Northern Territory (NT) Trial running in the NT where prisoners are sent to work in real jobs in the local community for award wages. It is only available for prisoners who have been classified low security; sex offenders are not eligible. Link to resource
Sex Offenders Treatment Program, Department of Corrective Services, Western Australia (WA) Designed for prisoners with an intellectual disability Link to resource
Sexual Behaviour Clinic – me Program, Department for Correctional Services South Australia (SA) Psychotherapeutic treatment for adult male sexual offenders with a mild to borderline level of intellectual functioning Link to resource
Supported Prison Pathway, Corrections Victoria (VIC) Provides a supported prison pathway for prisoners with a cognitive impairment through maximum, medium and minimum security Link to resource (PDF)
Throughcare Program, ACT Corrective Services (ACT) Provides a targeted transitional project designed to break the cycle of reoffending for sentenced detainees released from the Alexander Maconochie Centre Link to resource
Trial school within Parkville Juvenile Detention Centre – Victorian Department of Human Services (VIC) Operating within a juvenile detention centre, based on a ground-breaking U.S. initiative. The curriculum is designed to ensure that it does not alienate children with language impairments. Link to resource

General

Adolescent Forensic Mental Health Service (North Queensland), Queensland Health (QLD) Provides a range of services to support young people who are involved with the Juvenile Justice System or who are 'at risk' of such involvement, to access mental health and Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATODS) treatment services Link to resource
Advocacy and Legal Service, Toowoomba (QLD) Community legal centre providing legal representation, advice and support to disadvantaged people that have a brain injury, psychiatric or intellectual disability Link to resource
Advocacy Tasmania Inc. (TAS) Provides advocacy services for people with disability in Tasmania Link to resource
Anne McDonald Centre (VIC) Provides assessment and therapy for people with little or no functional speech Link to resource
Australian Centre for Disability Law (NSW) Advises and represents clients on matters concerning disability discrimination and broader human rights matters Link to resource
Brain Injury Association of Tasmania (TAS) Provides an identification card to people with an acquired brain injury and/or epilepsy. The ID card includes personal details, a nominated contact number and information about the person’s disability for police. The program is run in partnership with Tasmania Police. Link to resource
Centre of Excellence for Clinical Innovation and Behaviour Support, Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (QLD) Centre was a recommendation arising from the Carter report into Challenging Behaviour. It develops best practice research into the use of positive behaviour to improve the lives of people with intellectual disability who exhibit challenging behaviours. Link to resource
Child Witness Service, Western Australia Department of the Attorney General (WA) Provides senior psychiatrists and social workers who are trained in assessing the needs of child witnesses including children with disability. They are currently working to formulate appropriate protocols and criteria for the use of child communicators. Link to resource
Communication Rights Australia (VIC) Advocacy and information service for people with little or no speech Link to resource
Community Living Program, Community Living Association (QLD) Developed to particularly assist young people with an intellectual and/or other cognitive disability and mental illness. Holistic support services include court support, communication with police and responding to victimisation. Link to resource
Criminal Justice Support Network, Intellectual Disability Rights Service (NSW) Provides trained volunteers to assist people with intellectual disability when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, particularly at the police station and at court Link to resource
Deaf Services Queensland (QLD) Offers services and programs to people who are deaf or hearing impaired including: interpreting and translations, community services (referral and advocacy) and employment services. Deafness Awareness Training is provided for professionals, public servants, service providers and health providers to improve understanding of how access for deaf people can be improved. Link to resource
Disability Advocacy NSW, Advocacy Law Alliance Inc (NSW) Provides advocacy for people with disability in Hunter, Mid North Coast & New England regions of NSW Link to resource
Disability and Family Violence Crisis Response Initiative, Victorian Department of Human Services (VIC) Provides immediate support for women with disability to access crisis accommodation. Short-term funds can be provided to a maximum of $9000 while the woman and her family violence worker develop a longer term plan for housing and supports. Link to resource
Disability Justice Plan, South Australian Attorney-General’s Department (SA) Provides a holistic and coordinated response to overcoming the many barriers that people with disability face in accessing justice Link to resource
Enforcement Review Program, Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (VIC) Assists members of the community who have ‘special circumstances’ and outstanding fines registered at the Infringements Court. The Program enables the Court to impose outcomes that reflect the circumstances of the offenders. Link to resource
Exceptional Needs Unit, South Australian Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (SA) Provides assessment services, accommodation, review of cases and reporting of service gaps for people with complex needs Link to resource
Headspace, National Youth Mental Health Foundation (various states) Provides young offenders with access to mental health professionals, drug and alcohol treatment and GP's etc. Link to resource
Headwest Advocacy, Brain Injury Association of WA Inc (WA) Provides an advocacy service to support individuals living with an Acquired Brain Injury or acquired disability. This service includes advocacy when legal assistance is needed. Link to resource
Homeless Law, Justice Connect (VIC) Specialist legal service providing free legal assistance and advocacy for people experiencing or at risk of homeless and charged with minor criminal offences Link to resource
Interagency Guideline for Addressing Violence, Neglect and Abuse (IGUANA), Office of the Public Advocate Victoria (VIC) Outlines the steps an organisation needs to take if violence or abuse of a person with disability is reported Link to resource
Integrated Services Program for Clients with Challenging Behaviour, NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care (NSW) Coordinates cross-agency responses for adults with complex needs and challenging behaviour. The program includes assessment services, behaviour and therapeutic intervention and supported accommodation. Link to resource
Jaanimili (NSW) Operates a number of Aboriginal-specific programs for people with disability, including early start programs and in-home support to assist Aboriginal families at risk of relinquishing care of their child with disability Link to resource
Making Rights Reality Project, Federation of Community Legal Centres, Victoria (VIC) Pilot program in South Eastern Melbourne to improve access to justice for sexual assault victims with cognitive impairment or communication difficulties. A range of holistic services and legal assistance is provided to victims. Link to resource
Mental Health Law Centre Inc (WA) Provides free mental health law advice to people with psychiatric disabilities in Western Australia. Link to resource
Mental Health Legal Service, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QLD) Provides legal and support services for people with intellectual disability, cognitive impairment, mental illness or profound physical disability Link to resource
Multiple and Complex Needs Initiative, Victorian Department of Human Services (VIC) Provides case-management and coordination of services such as housing, health and family supports for people with multiple disabilities and complex needs Link to resource
North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NT) Provides culturally proficient Aboriginal legal services to Aboriginal people and the community at the Top End of the Northern Territory Link to resource
Office of Professional Practice, Victorian Department of Human Services (VIC) Responsible for ensuring that the rights of people who are subject to restrictive interventions and compulsory treatment are protected and that appropriate standards are complied with in relation to restrictive interventions and compulsory treatment Link to resource
Queensland Criminal Justice Centre (QLD) Resource-based website for lawyers working with people with disability who come in contact with the criminal justice system Link to resource
Rights in Action (QLD) Provides independent advocacy support for people with disabilities in vulnerable situations Link to resource
Safe at Home Program, Tasmanian  Department of Justice (TAS) Provides therapeutic support and case management for individuals with a disability affected by domestic violence Link to resource
Safety House (WA) Provides houses in communities across WA where children can go when it is not safe for them to be at home Link to resource
Scope Ltd (VIC) Not-for-profit organisation providing disability services in Victoria. Link to resource
Services Connect, Victorian Department of Human Services (VIC) Brings human services such as child protection, public housing, disability and family violence services under a single integrated plan Link to resource
Sisters Inside Inc. (QLD) Community organisation that advocates for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system. It works with women in prison to address gaps in the services available to them. Link to resource
Statewide Behaviour Intervention Service, NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care (NSW) Specialist, statewide clinical service which provides research, training and clinical consultation to service providers working with people with intellectual disability Link to resource
Strongbala Men's Health Program, Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service (NT) Provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men with culturally appropriate support including clinical services, health education such as domestic violence education advice and employment opportunities Link to resource
Supporting vulnerable witnesses in the giving of evidence: Draft guidelines for securing best evidence, South Australian Attorney-General’s Department (SA) Guidelines designed for investigative interviewers and practitioners working with vulnerable victims with the aim of obtaining the best evidence Link to resource (PDF)
Victims of Crime, Queensland Health (QLD) Provides free information, counselling and support to victims of mentally ill offenders who are diverted to the forensic mental health system from the criminal justice system Link to resource
Victims of Crime, Victorian Department of Justice (VIC) Provides a website containing easy-English information for people with disability who are victims of crime Link to resource
Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service (VIC) Provides advice and referrals on disability related legal issues. The service is predominantly provided for people who have an intellectually disability. Link to resource
Witness Assistance Service, Northern Territory Director of Public Prosecutions (NT) Provides support, court preparation assistance, information about the criminal justice system, provision of interpreters, referrals to counselling, legal assistance and assistance with preparing Victim Impact Statements Link to resource
Work and Development Order, New South Wales Office of State Revenue (NSW) People with a psychiatric or intellectual disability that are homeless can pay their fines through unpaid work with an approved organisation as an alternative to jail Link to resource
WWILD Sexual Violence Prevention Association, Queensland Department of Communities (QLD) Provides counselling, case management and information, advice and referral to people with intellectual disability who have been victims of crime or exploitation, as well as their families, workers and supporters. Professional development and training is provided to service organisations across Queensland. Link to resource
Young People with Exceptionally Complex Needs Program, Western Australia Mental Health Commission (WA) Coordinates service delivery between government and non-government agencies for young people with complex and multiple disabilities Link to resource (PDF)

Police

After Hours Bail Support Service, ACT Community Services Directorate (ACT) Provides advice and assistance to police and young people at risk of being remanded in custody Link to resource
Custodial Medical Officers and Custodial Nurses, Victoria Police (VIC) Assess the physical and mental health of people detained in police cells Link to resource (PDF)
Forensic Medical Officers, Victoria Police (VIC) Provide clinical advise on whether a person is fit for interview, fit for charging or fit to plead in court Link to resource (PDF)
Independent Third Persons, Office of the Public Advocate, Victoria (VIC) Volunteers who assist people with a cognitive disability or mental illness during interviews, or when giving formal statements to Victoria Police Link to resource
Mental Health Intervention Project, Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance (QLD) Regularly meet to identify mental health issues in the local area, discuss complex cases and develop preventative interventions Link to resource
Mental Health Intervention Team, NSW Police Force (NSW) Clinical team that provides education to police to identify mental health, strategies to communicate with people with psychiatric disabilities, de-escalation and crisis intervention techniques Link to resource
Mental health training for NSW Police Force (NSW) Compulsory mental health training for NSW police working on the frontline Link to resource
Mental Health Protocol, Victorian Department of Health and Victoria Police (VIC) Provides guidance to police and clinicians on their respective roles and responsibilities when working together to respond to the needs of people with mental illness Link to resource (PDF)
SupportLink, Queensland Police (QLD) Initiative providing an online portal, where police can refer a person with disability to over 200 registered support service agencies for domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, crime prevention, elder abuse and neglect, victim support and counselling and trauma support Link to resource
Visual Audio Recorded Evidence (VARE), Department of Human Services, Victoria (VIC) Outlines the legislative procedures and practice requirements regarding visual and audio recorded evidence. This type of evidence can only be given where the person is under 18 years and has suffered physical or sexual harm or is a person with a cognitive impairment. Link to resource
WA Police Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2013–2017, Western Australia Police (WA) Ensures that victims, offenders and the broader community are provided with inclusive service in accordance with the Western Australian Disability Services Act 1993 (WA) Link to resource