Go to content

Case managing clients with intellectual disabilities

The Disability Casework Project at Legal Aid NSW, funded by the Public Purpose Fund, aims to help divert young people away from the justice system through enhanced assessment and referral services. It is administered by the Client Assessment and Referral Service of Legal Aid NSW.

Early results indicate diversion in 100% of matters with 88% of clients not reoffending while completing their diversion order. This high proportion of clients who received a s32 order did not pay a fine or go to gaol but agreed to get help under a support or treatment plan.

The clients - young people with intellectual disability or acquired brain injury - are among the most disadvantaged of all Legal Aid NSW client groups, having complex social histories and multiple health and welfare needs.

Case: Holistic support changes a young life
Following an argument with his mother, a 15-year-old boy was charged with assault and multiple property damage offences. He was taken to Westmead Children's Hospital where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

Psychosocial assessment by a legal aid social worker found the boy had endured a traumatic and abusive childhood and spent the past 10 years living in different foster care homes. Reunion with his mother after running away from a foster care placement proved disastrous given his early family history and mental health condition.

With social work help, the boy was able to address a range of problems. He moved in with his aunt, received psychological counselling, complied with taking medication and attended an anger management course.

Graph showing results from the disability casework project: recidivism rates