Kymberly Martin
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New legal resource for people with intellectual disability

A new online resource has been launched in Victoria to assist people with cognitive impairment and intellectual disabilities receive fairer treatment in the criminal justice system.

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Created by the Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) Supportingjustice.net provides practical resources for lawyers, judicial officers and court professionals to better respond to people with autism spectrum disorder, cognitive impairment, intellectual disability and dual disability. It also connects support workers, people with disability and their carers with resources to help with seeking legal advice, preparing for court and getting support while at court.

CIJ associate director Stan Winford said while people with a disability are over-represented in the criminal justice system, they are on the whole under-supported.

“The primary focus of the Supporting Justice website is to help lawyers and court professionals learn how to recognise the signs of disability in the first instance, gain an understanding of the criminal justice system experience of people with a disability and offer appropriate needs-based support that will ultimately lead to fairer outcomes,” he said.

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Disability Minister Luke Donnellan said it was important that people with disability get the support they need at the right time, especially people who may come into contact with the police, courts or forensic services. “We are working hard to improve outcomes for people with disability interacting with the justice system and to strengthen our disability advocacy sector,” he said.

CIJ senior adviser, Michael Haralambous said the program is unique in that it brings people with disability to the centre of the process to ensure their voices are heard in relation to justice system reform.

“The project team drew in a broad cross-section of court and legal professionals, disability justice workers, as well as people with disability and lived experience of the justice system, to inform every stage of the website’s design and development,” he said.

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