Reporting a crime or being accused of a crime can be confronting and at times it can be challenging to work your way through a complicated system. Imagine if you had a cognitive impairment from dementia, autism, or an acquired brain injury owing to drug or alcohol damage or an intellectual disability – understanding what is going on can be extremely challenging.
It is estimated that over 50 per cent of people who are incarcerated currently have a cognitive impairment and these rates are much higher for young people in custody according to local justice advocate Mary Kerr.
‘Quite often the victims of a crime who have a cognitive disability don’t have the offences followed up effectively as the police or other services see them as an unreliable witness or the situation as being too difficult to pursue. This is where the Justice Advocacy Service is able to assist people.’
The Justice Advocacy Service is now providing assistance to people in the Northern Rivers after receiving new funding for permanent positions in regional centres. They are now looking for volunteers to join the service to assist people to understand their rights, negotiate their way through court outcomes.
‘People can self-refer or they can be referred by family, police, carers etc who may think they need assistance in understanding the situation they find themselves in,’ explained Mary.
If you or someone you know needs some help then call 133 665 908 or find more information online https://idrs.org.au.
The service is open to all ages,’ says Mary. ‘Children, young people, as well as older people can seek help.’
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer call Mary on 0456 310 334 or apply online to become a volunteer. Training is provided and volunteers can elect when they are available.