A program that will help victims and perpetrators of crime who have intellectual impairments to navigate the NSW justice system is in need of volunteers.
Justice Advocates Fiona Ingram and Joanne Knight will soon be conducting training for those interested in assisting people at court, to understand official orders and proceedings.
The NSW government is investing $10 million over two years to run the program and awarded a tender to Intellectual Disability Rights Service in April.
The Regional Disability Advocacy Service is partnering with IDRS to deliver the service from Albury, Wagga and Griffith.
"We really need volunteers to help people with cognitive impairments, who find themselves in jail and in court, and not just victims only - they could be perpetrators or family members," Ms Ingram said.
"The advocates will make sure the client is supported and calm, and that the person has sought all legal requirements."
Ms Ingram said the cohort captured by the program were too often unnecessarily placed in jail, having misunderstood conditions like staying 100 metres away from a place or person.
"It's now known that there has been a over-representation of people with cognitive impairment put straight in jail," she said.
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"There was a need to roll this out to say you have rights, and give them support.
"Every volunteer has something to give.
"There might be retirees, ex-teachers and people in the community who have supported somebody, or even law students who could take part - anyone who has a social awareness."
Then-NSW Disability Minister Ray Williams announced the Justice Advocacy Service in September, 2018.
"Previous services of this kind were for people with an intellectual disability, but the Justice Advocacy Service will also support people with acquired brain injury, dementia, autism spectrum disorder and other forms of cognitive impairment," he said.
Ms Knight said volunteers would be fully supported and travel and food allowances would be provided.
"We're very mindful it could be a sensitive thing, and people might not want to work on certain cases - we will take that all into account," she said.
People who are interested in volunteering should contact 0448 770 427.