New Support For People With A Cognitive Impairment

Cognitively-impaired victims of crime, witnesses, suspects and defendants visiting Gosford Courthouse will receive new support, thanks to a $28 million investment by the NSW Government.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said Gosford Courthouse is one of NSW’s busiest Local Courts and has been selected as one of six sites to operate the Justice Advocacy Service (JAS).

“Navigating the criminal justice system is an overwhelming experience for almost anyone, but particularly for people with a cognitive impairment,” Mr Crouch said.

“JAS has been used in more than 4,500 court cases since July 2019, and for the first time, people on the Central Coast will now benefit from this nation-leading court-based diversion program.

“We know that Gosford Courthouse is one of NSW’s busiest Local Courts and I’m pleased JAS will improve access to justice, support people in exercising their rights and help drive down the rate of re-offending.”

JAS helps to:

  • Provide a support person for people with a cognitive impairment that can accompany them and help them participate in Police, legal and court processes,
  • Helps victims and witnesses with a cognitive impairment to report a crime,
  • Provide a 24-hour service for people with cognitive impairment who are in Police custody,
  • Trains Police and Court staff to identify and respond to the needs of people with a cognitive impairment
  • Refer people with a cognitive impairment into relevant care.

JAS has been proven to provide holistic, end-to-end support for people with a cognitive impairment, from their first point of contact with Police, to the resolution of their court case. Early intervention and treatment in each case has been shown to reduce the risk of re-offending and also improve community safety.

Case study:

  • Todd (name has been changed) has a cognitive impairment. He could not manage his personal finances and had been exploited by people in his life.
  • At the time of his court proceedings, Todd was homeless and had difficulty understanding what he was charged with and why he had to attend court.
  • Through JAS, Todd was referred to a court-based diversion service.
  • Todd was able to apply to have a guardian appointed. He was also linked with a Behaviour Support Practitioner to help him better understand his legal obligations. This intensive case management helped him source specialist support including supports that might be available from the NDIS. He was able to implement a plan that was sustainable and affordable.
  • With this plan in place, the Local Court Magistrate approved Todd’s diversion application and he was diverted away from the criminal justice system.
  • Todd is now receiving the support he needs to manage his cognitive impairment.