IDRS Systemic, Policy and Law Reform Submissions and Papers

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Policy and Law Reform

Below are some of the submissions made by IDRS in chronological order


Issue paper - Defendant Incapacity and AVOs

Date: December 2014

This paper examines issues, legal and social, arising for defendants in apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) and apprehended personal violence order (APVO) matters who, due to their cognitive disability lack capacity to understand and/or comply with such orders.

This paper focuses on people who have intellectual disability, however concerns and issues raised in this paper are also relevant to people who lack capacity due to other cognitive disabilities, such as acquired brain injuries, dementia and autism.

The two key issues identified in this paper are:

  • making apprehended violence orders (AVOs) against people with impaired capacity exposes them to high risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system; and
  • AVOs made against people with impaired capacity may not serve the intended purpose of protecting the person/s named as the person/s in need of protection (PINOP/s) on the AVO. PINOPs may believe they have a level of protection from a defendant that they do not really have and feel a false sense of security. (In some matters, for example, PINOPS would be more likely to be protected if alternative accommodation, and/or other services were available).

The paper poses questions to stimulate thoughts about some possible areas for reform. The Appendix sets out relevant recommendations for reform made by some key reports and IDRS submissions.

You can access the complete issues paper here- Issue paper - Defendant Incapacity and AVOs (PDF file)

Submission on the Consultation Draft of the Disability Inclusion Bill 2014

Date: 20 February 2014

Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) supports the need for reform in disability legislation in NSW and welcomes the opportunity to make a submission in relation on the Consultation Draft of the Disability Inclusion Bill.

Our comments are focused on strengthening the Bill to achieve real change for people with disability.

You can access the complete submission here- Submission on the Consultation Draft of the Disability Inclusion Bill 2014 (PDF file)

NSW Parliament Passes Assault and Intoxication Bill

Date: January 31, 2014

On 30 January 2014 the NSW Parliament passed the Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Bill 2014.

  1. To create a separate offence (with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 20 years) where an assault by intentionally hitting a person causes death (without the necessity to prove that the death was reasonably foreseeable and whether the person was killed as a result of the injuries received directly from the assault or from hitting the ground or an object as a consequence of the assault),
  2. To create an aggravated form of that separate offence by increasing the maximum penalty for the offence to imprisonment for 25 years if the offence was committed by an adult accused when intoxicated (whether under the influence of alcohol, a drug or other substance),
  3. To require the courts to impose a minimum sentence of imprisonment for 8 years on a person guilty of that aggravated intoxication offence.

The original form of the Bill was amended to provide that any non-parole period for the mandatory minimum sentence is also required to be not less than 8 years.

The Bill provides a defense to the aggravated intoxication offence if the accused had a significant (highlighting added) cognitive impairment at the time the offence was alleged to have been committed (not being a temporary self-induced impairment). 'Cognitive impairment' includes an intellectual disability, a developmental disorder (including an autistic spectrum disorder), a neurological disorder, dementia, a mental illness or a brain injury.

The Bill provides for the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 to be amended to make the new offence of assault causing death a 'personal violence offence' for the purposes of that Act.


The Bill also provides for increases in the penalty notice fines for the following conduct:

  1. Offensive conduct or language in public place or school (increased from $200 and $150 to $500);
  2. Failure of intoxicated person in a public place to comply with move on direction (increased from $200 to $1,100).

The maximum court fine that can be imposed for continuation of intoxicated and disorderly behaviour following a move on direction is also substantially increased.


Printer friendly version NSW Parliament Passes Assault and Intoxication Bill (PDF file)

Submission to the review of disability legislation Disability Services Act 1993 (NSW)

Date: March 11, 2013

IDRS welcomes the review of disability legislation in NSW to underpin reforms to better cater for the needs and choices of people with disability in NSW.

IDRS believes that the NSW Disability Services Act 1993 (the DSA) has not been implemented to its full potential for flexible, person- centred support based on individual choice and control for people with disability.

Click to open the submission to the review of disability legislation Disability Services Act 1993 (NSW) (PDF file)

The Involuntary or Coerced Sterilisation of People with Disabilities in Australia Senate Committee Inquiry

Date: February 2013

Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs

This submission aims to identify some of the underlying concerns that lead to carers sterilising people with intellectual disability, or coercing them into the procedure, and makes recommendations on how these concerns can be addressed.

Click to open the submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs (PDF file)

The Statutory Review of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007

Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission

Date: November 2011



This submission addresses the following issues relating to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (the Act):

  • Definitions of ‘domestic violence offence’ and ‘domestic relationship’
  • Effectiveness of the Act where a defendant has Impaired Capacity
    • Provisional orders
    • Interim orders
    • Participation in proceedings
    • Final orders

Please click on the link to download complete document- IDRS Submission regarding the statutory review of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007

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Bail Question for Discussion

People with an intellectual disability and bail.

Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission

Date: 30 July 2011

It is the experience of IDRS that people with an intellectual disability face particular difficulty in obtaining bail. Such difficulties may flow from lack of support services and suitable accommodation options together with reduced community ties. They may also be more likely to have a history of previous offences and/or previous failures to appear.

Please click on the link to download complete document- IDRS Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission - Bail Questions For Discussion

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Submission to the Standing Committee on Social Issues’ inquiry into substitute decision-making for people lacking capacity

Submission to the Standing Committee on Social Issue, NSW Parliament

Date: August 2009

Introduction of the submission

The Intellectual Disability Rights Service’s (IDRS’s) submission focuses on the provisions and operation of the Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW) and the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 (NSW). These are the statutory instruments that most impact upon IDRS’s clients’ autonomy. Given how recent the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 (NSW) is, it is not yet clear to IDRS whether the Act will operate to improve service delivery to IDRS’ client-base. Certainly, as is expressed below, IDRS has grave concerns that service delivery by the NSW Trustee and Guardian will be even further stretched and poorer than before and there will be more frustration and complaints from clients.

Please click on the link to download complete document- IDRS Submission to the national human rights consultation, June 2009.

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IDRS Submission to the national human rights consultation

Submission to the Standing Committee on Social Issue, NSW Parliament

Date: August 2009

Please click on the link to download complete document- IDRS Submission to the national human rights consultation, June 2009.

Enabling Justice Report

Enabling Justice cover page

Published in 2008

ISBN 978 0 646 49190 5

A Report on Problems and Solutions in relation to Diversion of Alleged Offenders with Intellectual Disability from the New South Wales Local Courts System: With particular reference to the practical operation of s 32 of the Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act 1990 (NSW).

Please click on the link to download complete document- Enabling Justice

Please click on the link to download easy read version of the document- Enabling Justice- easy read version

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A Review of the Practical Operation of s32 of the Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act 1990

This report is substantially based on a paper written by Andrew Howell during an internship at the Intellectual Disability Rights Service in 2006. Linda Steele, Solicitor at the Service, took over the project in late 2006 and was responsible for making additions to the paper.

IDRS would like to thank Jim Simpson, Jane Sanders, Eileen Baldry and Peter McGhee for their valued contributions, as well as all of the people who participated in the consultations

Report Title: Diversion of Alleged Offenders with an Intellectual Disability from the New South Wales Local Courts System: A Review of the Practical Operation of s32 of the Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act 1990

This paper examines what more can be done for alleged offenders with an intellectual disability in the NSW Local Courts system through a focus on the existing dispositional options under s 32 and the relationship between s 32 and access to specialist support and services. This paper also makes recommendations to reform the various shortcomings identified.

Please click on the link to download complete document- A Review of the Practical Operation of s32 of the Mental Health (Criminal Procedure) Act 1990

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Bail Question for Discussion

People with an intellectual disability and bail.

Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission

Date: 30 July 2011

It is the experience of IDRS that people with an intellectual disability face particular difficulty in obtaining bail. Such difficulties may flow from lack of support services and suitable accommodation options together with reduced community ties. They may also be more likely to have a history of previous offences and/or previous failures to appear.

Please click on the link to download complete document- IDRS Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission - Bail Questions For Discussion

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The Framework Report

Please see below for the links to download the three files

Appropriate community services in NSW for offenders with intellectual disability and those at risk of offending.

Date: July 2001

ISBN 1 -875154-03-5

This report was commissioned by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service and the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability with funding from the Department of Ageing, Disability and Homecare, and the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW.

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