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People with a disability
For a summary of the contact details for the various support services, please go to
Help and Support > Victims with specific needs > people with a disability
Below is further information on help and support available to people with a disability.
Support when with the police - any disability
People with disabilities are considered vulnerable persons by the police.
When a disability is established or strongly suggested, the vulnerable person should have the right to a support person (a person, over 18 years of age, chosen or agreed to by the victim to help them) when being interviewed by the police. This is the case whether the person is a witness, victim or alleged offender. This may involve the use of a carer, case worker, legal representative, guardian or AUSLAN interpreter. Please refer to the police website for more on how the police assist people with disabilities.
Support when in contact with the police - communication difficulty
The police will arrange for an interpreter if a person being interviewed :
- is deaf, hearing impaired or speaking impaired
- is unable to communicate in English
- has a limited understanding of English
- is more comfortable communicating in their own language
- is a child and the appropriate adult requires an interpreter
- wants an interpreter.
If you need and interpreter when calling triple zero '000', say “interpreter” and the language you speak. The operator will try to connect you to an interpreter immediately.
If you want to call the police assistance line and need an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask to be connected to 131 444. This service is free.
Support when with the police - intellectual disability
If you have an intellectual disability you may contact the Criminal Justice Support Network (CJSN) if you are going to be interviewed by the police as a victim or need legal advice. Phone the CJSN on 1300 665 908. The aim of the CJSN is to make sure that people with an intellectual disability who are in contact with the criminal justice system understand their rights and have the ability to exercise them.
The Network will offer support at police interviews and at court to people with an intellectual disability who are victims and witnesses.
Support when at court - any disability
It is important that you discuss with the prosecutor, either the police prosecutor or Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) prosecutor in your matter, and your support person, any particular needs you may have in the courtroom and how your needs can be met. These needs could relate to:
- communication difficulties
- cognitive or intellectual disability
- hearing difficulties or deafness
- vision impairment
- emotional or psychological difficulties
- personal care needs
The ODPP Witness Assistance Service can also assist people prepare for court and make sure they have support giving evidence in cases prosecuted by the ODPP.
NSW Health Sexual Assault Services also assist clients of their service with court preparation and support, including people with a disability.
A brochure and form "People with a disability - Request for court assistance" explains how court assistance can be requested from the Court Registrar. The brochure is available on the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice website.
Support when at court - Intellectual or cognitive disability
Victims who have an intellectual disability may have particular support needs as they go through the legal process.
If you have an intellectual disability you may contact the Criminal Justice Support Network (CJSN) if you need to go to court on a criminal matter or need legal advice. Phone the CJSN on 1300 665 908. The aim of the CJSN is to make sure that people with an intellectual disability who are in contact with the criminal justice system understand their rights and have the ability to exercise them. The CJSN will offer support at police interviews and at court, to people with an intellectual disability who are victims and witnesses.
The Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) on (02) 9318 0144 is a non-government organisation which specialises in assisting people with intellectual disabilities make representations in court.
The dvd “So you have to go to Court” is produced for people with an intellectual disability or a cognitive disability who have to go to court. Select the preceding link to watch this video online.
The brochure "Your rights as a victim of crime" is a brochure which outlines victims rights step by step through the 'justice journey'. It was designed for persons with a cognitive disabilty.
The brochure "Things to remember for court" is a checklist document which lists things to remember for court. This list may be useful for witnesses with a cognitive disabilty.
Support when at court - communication difficulties (hearing/speech)
Victims who have a hearing or speech impairment or other disability that may make it difficult to communicate can use interpreters.
If you have a hearing aid or you are hearing impaired then you or your support person can request to use a hearing amplification system (The Infra Red Assistive Hearing System) for your visit to court.
The NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice has 360 courtrooms and uses portable infra-red systems to assist people who are hard of hearing.
These are similar to hearing loops but ensure the information stays within the courtroom.
The infra-red system can assist people who appear in court including witnesses, jurors, legal professionals, relatives and friends.
You can request to use the infra-red system yourself or let the prosecutor, your counsellor/support person or Witness Assistance Officer know about your needs.
If you are going to organise this yourself, then you need to do the following:
For more information about ordering the infra-red system, see our Information sheet, Can you hear in the courtroom?. If you have any difficulties before court or want more information, please contact Diversity Services (Ph: 02 8688 8460 TTY: 02 8688 7733) in the Department of Attorney General and Justice or visit the Diversity Services website.