The New South Wales Bar Association has welcomed the announcement this week by the NSW Government of a new $10 million "Justice Advocacy Service" to assist victims, witnesses, suspects and defendants with cognitive impairment who come into contact with the state’s criminal justice system.
In a statement today, President Arthur Moses SC said "the Justice Advocacy Service has the potential to promote fairer, more equitable outcomes by assisting people with cognitive impairment to better understand what our criminal justice system requires of them, whether they are providing police or witness statements, testifying in court or adhering to bail conditions".
"It is a crucial tenet of the Rule of Law that laws must be knowable and able to be obeyed by everyone. Navigating the criminal justice system in any capacity is a difficult and stressful experience for any member of the community. It is particularly difficult for vulnerable people with forms of cognitive impairment, including dementia, acquired brain injury and autism spectrum disorder.
"The Association looks forward to working with the Government, the successful tenderer and the courts to improve access to justice for all members of the NSW community," Mr Moses SC said.
The tender for the Justice Advocacy Service is open until 23 October 2018. Further information is available at www.tenders.nsw.gov.au.