Welcome to the fourth Supporting Justice bulletin. This bulletin is designed to keep project stakeholders informed about what’s going on, and to demonstrate how consultation and feedback is driving project decisions and outcomes. We invite you to share these bulletins with your networks to build awareness and advocacy around the project to promote and protect the rights of people with disability in the criminal justice system in Victoria.
About Supporting Justice
Supporting Justice is a systems change project working with people with lived experience and key stakeholders from the criminal justice, disability and social services sectors to address the over-representation of people with disability in the criminal justice system. Read more about the Supporting Justice website here.
Funding has been confirmed for promotion and launch of the website. A launch event will be scheduled for the new year. In the meantime, the website is accessible at supportingjustice.net where it provides resources to:
enhance the likelihood that people with disability in contact with the criminal justice system are given access to least restrictive interventions and are connected to more appropriate support
increase the understanding of lawyers, court staff, judicial officers, broader criminal justice and disability support system workers around least restrictive options available
increase the investigation, promotion and engagement of least restrictive options for people with cognitive impairment by courts, legal professionals and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system
provide information and tools to criminal justice system workers and people with disability about the NDIS
Website features include:
Personal stories of people with disability and lived experience of the criminal justice system
Facts and statistics to help legal and court professionals recognise the signs of disability
Practical guides and downloads to support awareness of disability and less-restrictive options for people with disability in the criminal justice system, including the promotion of the NDIS, support pathways and therapeutic courts
Quick access contact details of services and programs appropriate to achieving less restrictive options for people with disability in the criminal justice system
Website media Read an article published by SBS News on the supportingjustice.net resource here.
Interested in having CIJ present to your organisation? Commencing in early 2020, the Supporting Justice project team will be hitting the road to introduce the online resource to organisations across the criminal justice system. If you are interested in having the Supporting Justice project team present to your organisation, please contact Michael Haralambous on Michael.Haralambous@rmit.edu.au
Voices for Justice - self-advocates ready for action The CIJ has been supporting the Self-Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU) at Ross House to develop and deliver self-advocacy training to people with an ABI and lived experience of the criminal justice system.
The project’s goal is to develop more self-advocates with disability and lived experience of the criminal justice system who have the confidence and skills to engage in advocacy and participate in decision-making processes that affect them. The self-advocacy model empowers individuals to have a voice in decisions that impact on their experience.
The Voices for Justice (VFJ) training has been adapted from SARU’s Voice at the Table (VATT) program which supports people with cognitive impairment to prepare for roles on advisory committees, boards and as consultants on their own experience.
The project is about to complete its first round of training with a group of 10 people with ABI. The group are in the early stages of setting up a self-advocate led support group who will meet regularly and make themselves available to government and non-government organisations looking to understand the criminal justice system from the perspective of a person with disability.
A graduation ceremony for the participants will be announced in the coming week. The graduates will be ready to consult with criminal justice system organisations in the new year.
Supporting Justice systems change work The project team has been working hard since our last bulletin to lay the foundations for system change to reduce the over-representation of people with disability in the criminal justice system.
System map consultations
The team conducted consultations with self-advocates with disability and lived experience of the criminal justice system and stakeholders from the criminal justice, disability and social services sectors around the Supporting Justice System Map.
These consultations have given Supporting Justice a unique view of the way key stakeholders see the criminal justice system and an understanding of what is needed to drive real change. These consultations were also valuable opportunities to draw out and develop opportunities for the project to collaborate with stakeholders in the next stage of work.
System change workshop
Building on the consultations, the project invited representatives from participating organisations to attend a half-day workshop to develop a list of change priorities. Fifteen representatives from key stakeholder organisations attended the workshop where they heard a presentation from Kevin and Michael, two members of the Voices for Justice training who spoke about the training and the need to listen to voices of self-advocates when designing criminal justice system policy.
“I spent most of my life in and out of institutions and I did consider myself a career criminal. What I would like everybody to know here today is that change is possible, in people and in the justice system… The world that I live in is very different to the world that many of you live in, but we need to work together to make change happen.” – Michael, Voices for Change self-advocate
The workshop confirmed four priority areas for change in the criminal justice system and discussed opportunities for Supporting Justice to work with system stakeholders to achieve tangible change in these areas. Critically, the workshop provided a platform for the emerging self-advocates from the Voices for Justice training to connect with policy makers in the disability and criminal justice systems.
Next stage of work
The Supporting Justice project will now focus on collaborating with stakeholders to drive change in the four priority areas:
The project will work with stakeholders across the criminal justice, disability and social services sectors over the next 6-12 months to develop strategic interventions in these four priority areas.
Get involved If your organisation would like to here more about the Supporting Justice project or work with CIJ to develop interventions in the four priority areas, contact Michael Haralambous on Michael.Haralambous@rmit.edu.au