Access support services

Why this is important

This page tells you how to access support services for people involved in the criminal justice system through two channels:

  • Support services within the criminal justice system – available to eligible people currently involved in criminal justice proceedings
  • Support services in the community – services that can be accessed while in and out of the criminal justice system

Note that disability services in Victoria have changed recently.

The roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has significantly changed the way many of the services that have historically provided support services to people in the Victorian criminal justice system are funded.

Support services within the criminal justice system

Court Integrated Services Program (CISP)

CISP provides support services for clients on bail for matters before the Victorian Magistrates' Court. The program aims to reduce the likelihood of people re-offending by supporting them to access relevant services, including:

  • drug and alcohol treatment services
  • crisis and supported accommodation
  • disability and mental health services
  • acquired brain injury services
  • Koori-specific services.

CISP provides case management support for up to four months or until sentencing or finalisation of a person’s criminal law matter (whichever is sooner). Throughout this period of case management, a Magistrate will monitor the person's progress via reports and regular hearings.

CISP services are available at most Magistrates' Courts in Victoria.

Eligibility and intake

To be eligible for CISP, the individual must:

  • be charged with an offence
  • consent to be involved with CISP
  • be experiencing at least one of the following:
    • Physical or mental disabilities or illnesses
    • Drug and alcohol dependence and misuse issues
    • Inadequate social, family and economic support that contributes to the frequency or severity of their offending 
    • Homelessness

How do I refer my client to CISP?

Use the CISP referral form.

An individual can refer themselves to CISP or ask their lawyer to assist them. A family member, support worker, magistrate, police officer or prosecutor may also refer someone to CISP, but the person will only be accepted if they agree to be involved.

Once a referral is made the person’s eligibility is assessed by a CISP intake worker.

DHHS Forensic Disability Program

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have a Forensic Disability Program for people who have disability support needs which are contributing to contact with the criminal justice system.

You should first contact the Forensic Disability Statewide Access Service (FDSAS). FDSAS is contactable 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Call 1300 390 709 or email ForensicDisability.Access@dhhs.vic.gov.au

FDSAS can then refer you on to any of the following three services:

  • Disability Forensic Assessment and Treatment Service (DFATS)
  • Disability Justice Coordination
  • Specialist Forensic Disability Accommodation (SFDA)

Forensic Disability Statewide Access Service (FDSAS)

FDSAS is the access point into the Forensic Disability Program.

It provides:

  • information and advice to people with intellectual or cognitive disability who have come into contact with the justice system
  • information to all relevant stakeholders such as Victoria Police and Corrections Victoria
  • pre-screening for all referrals to the Forensic Disability Program to ensure eligibility under the Disability Act 2006
  • prioritisation of referrals to ensure the people who most need forensic disability supports are seen first
  • a central point of contact for all other services within Victoria’s Forensic Disability Program, supporting coordination and practice consistency throughout the state.

FDSAS is contactable 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Call 1300 390 709 or email ForensicDisability.Access@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Disability Forensic Assessment and Treatment Service (DFATS)

The DFATS is a statewide disability forensic service, which provides assessment, treatment, support and residential services for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities who display high risk anti-social behaviour, and who are involved, or at risk of being involved, in the criminal justice system.

All referrals to DFATS are managed by FDSAS.

Disability Justice Coordination

Disability Justice Coordination operates across four divisions throughout Victoria with offices in the metro and regional areas.

Disability Justice coordinators perform forensic assessments and interventions for people with intellectual disability who have been sentenced or placed on an order through the Victorian judicial system.

The coordinators can assist the judiciary in sentencing people with a disability by:

  • focusing on rehabilitative goals relevant to the offending
  • taking into account the person’s capacity to learn and acquire new skills.

All referrals to Disability Justice Coordination are managed by FDSAS.

Specialist Forensic Disability Accommodation (SFDA)

The SFDA is a network of 12 residential services under the Disability Act 2006, accommodating people requiring forensic disability supports who are subject to civil and criminal orders in the community. In addition, SFDA accommodates people with a cognitive disability who have served orders but pose a risk to community safety and continue to need support.

All referrals to SFDA are managed by FDSAS.

Youth Justice Court Advice Service (YJCAS)

Youth Justice can provide assistance, including case management and supervision, to young people (under 21) with matters in all Victorian criminal jurisdictions.

This support can include intensive bail supervision and is available to young people who are at risk of a custodial sentence.

Eligibility, intake and referral

For availability, intake and eligibility guidelines contact the local Youth Justice office or the court that your client is required to attend. 

2. Support services in the community


National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can provide funding packages for people with a disability to spend on supports that are 'reasonable and necessary'.

The NDIS tailors funding to individuals to reflect their goals. These tailored funding packages are called 'NDIS plans'.

Some of the things that an NDIS plan can provide funding for:

  • 'Core supports' – including assistance with activities of daily living and with social and community participation (including transport)
  • 'Capacity-building supports' – to build independence and skills, like behaviour support to improve relationships, and help to find and keep a job
  • 'Capital funding' – for equipment and home modifications related to the person’s disability

Funding amounts are determined by the goals a person with disability has put in their NDIS plan.

The NDIS will determine what is reasonable and necessary support funding to achieve these goals.

A detailed list of the types of funding that are available through NDIS plans can be found on the NDIS 'price guides'.

An NDIS participant may be able to access Support Plan Coordinators.

Support Plan Coordinators work with NDIS participants to build the skills required to understand, implement and get the most out of their plan. They can help locate and negotiate with service providers, but they do not provide case management. Participants with complex needs may be entitled to funding for Specialist Support Coordinators.

Eligibility, intake and referral

For eligibility, application and support information see Access the NDIS.

Non-NDIS services

Only around 10% of people with a disability (around 460,000 Australians) are expected to become NDIS participants (1).

If your client is not eligible for an NDIS plan, or they are waiting on approval from the NDIS, you might consider connecting them with disability advocateshousing providers, mental health support services and drug and alcohol support services.

References

1: Karen Fisher, 'Understanding the NDIS: many eligible people with disabilities are likely to miss out' The Conversation (online, 7 July 2016)

Supporting Justice

Supporting Justice © Centre for Innovative Justice, RMIT University, 2019

Questions or feedback: contact@supportingjustice.net

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