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Improving justice responses to mental health and disability

Building on its groundbreaking work in partnership with Jesuit Social Services and people with lived experience on the Enabling Justice project, the CIJ will undertake a program of research and system change aimed at improving the justice system's response to mental health and disability.

People with mental ill health and cognitive impairments are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system.

It is critical that people with lived experience are involved in developing solutions.

Systemic change is needed to improve responses.

As part of this work, CIJ has been commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake an Information Linkages and Capacity Building project for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Victoria.

The Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) component of the NDIS will be implemented in Victoria from July 2019.

During the transition, Victoria supports a range of projects with funding from the NDIA to continue existing ILC-type activities and to deliver new activities that focus on innovation, addressing market gaps and helping organisations prepare for the ILC.

The CIJ will work with designers PaperGiant over the next six months, using human-centred design to develop an online resource for courts and other legal professionals. The resource will be designed to ensure people with a cognitive impairment, autism-spectrum disorder or dual disability who are in contact with the justice system do not experience discrimination regarding the determination of least restrictive interventions, and continue to have their human rights upheld.

The CIJ project will invite those who work within the criminal justice system, disability and mental health sectors to participate in workshops to identify:

  • less restrictive options currently available to people with cognitive impairment, autism spectrum-disorder and dual disability who are in contact with the criminal justice system;
  • how decisions about how to respond to people with cognitive impairment, autism spectrum-disorder and dual disability are currently made by those working in the system (in particular courts and legal professionals);
  • where the information gaps in the system exist; and
  • what kind of information / online resource might benefit those working in the system to make more informed choices and consider least restrictive alternatives.

Once feedback is obtained from stakeholders in workshops in early 2019, the remainder of the project period will be spent developing the prototype for the online resource, user testing the prototype and refining it before its finalisation by 30 June 2019.

Using a human centred design approach is likely to develop a resource that is both sustainable and fit for purpose for those in the sector who will use it. We also believe that taking this approach will develop the capacity of the legal profession and court staff and engender a shared commitment to improve the criminal justice system’s response.

A full list of NDIA funded ILC projects is available via this link, including the CIJ’s project summary.

For more information, contact Stan Winford or Anna Howard.