Volunteers needed at court to support justice for people with cognitive impairment

File photo.
File photo.

The magistrate sitting behind an imposing bench, lawyers talking in their own mysterious language... officials in uniforms everywhere, it's daunting for anyone, but for a person with a cognitive impairment the court process can be completely overwhelming and confusing.

A cognitive impairment includes intellectual disability, borderline intellectual functioning, dementia, acquired brain injury, drug or alcohol related brain damage, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

The Justice Advocacy Service (JAS) is a service of the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) and is seeking volunteers to help protect the rights of victims, witnesses and suspects or defendants with cognitive impairment attending court.

Volunteers will help a person with cognitive impairment to:

  • understand their rights and what is happening at court
  • understand outcomes, including Court orders and bail conditions
  • communicate with Court staff, police and lawyers
  • communicate to police and lawyers about their support needs
  • complete legal paperwork.

Two days training will be provided to successful applicants. On commencement volunteers will be supported and supervised by a local IDRS staff person called a Justice Advocate. Volunteers are free to determine when they can be available to provide support.

Successful applicants will join an existing pool of volunteers from diverse backgrounds who share a commitment to supporting people with cognitive impairment to understand and participate fully in their legal matters.

JAS is a free service. People do not need to have to use NDIS funding to get help from JAS.

Apply online at www.idrs.org.au/volunteers or call Wendy Carpenter, your local Justice Advocate, on 0457 261 908 for information and support completing an application.

If you have cognitive impairment or know a person with a cognitive impairment who needs support navigating the criminal justice system telephone 1300 665 908.

This story Volunteers needed to support justice in court first appeared on Port Macquarie News.