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IDRS During 2011

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To all members of NSW Parliament...

Date: July 2012

This is a letter written jointly by Coalition on Intellectual Disability and Criminal Justice, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability and IDRS.

We are asking all MPs to support the reforms in the NSW Law Reform Commission’s report on Bail law in NSW

You can download the letter in PDF format here letter to all members of NSW Parliament

You can download the NSW Law Reform Commission’s report on Bail law in NSW in PDF format format here (large file) Report 133 (2012) - Bail

From Outlaws Towards Inclusion Conference - papers and presentations

Date: February 2012

Conference presentations are now available from the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability website (links to external resource)

Media Release

Collapsed sex abuse case sparks call for reform

Date: December 2011

The Intellectual Disability Rights Service is alarmed to learn of the collapse of a prosecution in South Australia where charges relating to the alleged sexual abuse of children with intellectual disability against a bus driver were dismissed when prosecutors believed the children would struggle to tell the court what happened to them. South Australian law views disabled victims as unreliable witnesses who would not cope with cross-examination.

People with intellectual disability are extremely vulnerable to sexual assault as demonstrated by this case. Research studies conclude that both men and women with intellectual disability are more likely to be sexually assaulted, sometimes multiple times by multiple perpetrators, than people without a disability. However, convictions are rare and this may be partly due to criminal justice system personnel holding erroneous beliefs about the victim and their disability.

Research clearly shows that many people with intellectual disability are able to give statements to police about alleged sexual assault when they are supported appropriately. An independent support person may attend an interview to ensure the victim is able to understand questions and provide an account of what happened. It is dangerous to assume that a person is unable to do this simply because they have a disability. This misconception, which we have witnessed in NSW, may contribute to the continued high levels of sexual assault suffered by vulnerable people. The Intellectual Disability Rights Service, through its’ Criminal Justice Support Network, provides trained support persons to accompany victims of sexual assault with intellectual disability in NSW to the police station when giving a statement. The support person helps police to phrase questions clearly in plain language and alerts officers if the client does not understand, encourages them to allow the person frequent breaks if they have difficulty concentrating for a sustained period of time and offers emotional support.

The Intellectual Disability Rights Service can be contacted on 1300 665 908 to offer support to people with intellectual disability in contact with the police and courts as a defendant, witness or victim of crime.

Please click to download Media Release - Collapsed sex abuse case sparks call for reform This is a PDF file

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IDRS made the following submission about the statutory review of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007

IDRS 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):

  1. Definitions of ‘domestic violence offence’ and ‘domestic relationship’
  2. Effectiveness of the Act where a defendant has Impaired Capacity
    1. Provisional orders
    2. Interim orders
    3. Participation in proceedings
    4. 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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The Step by Step Guide to making Section 32 (MHFPA) applications

Date: October 2011

The Step by Step Guide is now available in print form.

The Step by Step Guide is a concise and practical guide for lawyers representing clients with intellectual disability in Section 32 applications in the NSW Local Courts

Please contact IDRS to order a copy, or contact us via for more information

The Step by Step Guide is also available in PDF form from: The Step by Step Guide to making Section 32 (MHFPA) Applications

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Criminal Law and Intellectual Disability Project

Date: September 2011

This is a joint project with the Legal Aid NSW, with funding from the Public Purpose Fund

Project aims to deliver:

  • A Step-by-Step Guide to Section 32 Application for a person with intellectual disability
  • A website with the step-by-step guide and information for lawyers and service providers
  • Training for lawyers and service providers
  • Consultation for lawyers

Step by Step Guide

IDRS has a wealth of experience in making successful S32 applications for people with intellectual disability.

This guide aims to draw on this experience to assist solicitors with some common questions that can arise including:

  • is my client’s disability covered under S32
  • how does the disability effect my client
  • what evidence is needed
  • how do I get an assessment
  • how do I get a treatment or support plan
  • principals from the case law
  • important submissions
  • what if my client has had previous S32 orders


Over 2011 and 2012, IDRS will be running seminars for solicitors throughout NSW. These will be widely advertised.

To register your interest in receiving the guide or attending a seminar please contact or call 02 9318 0144

For more information about the training workshops, please check - The Step by Step Guide to Making a Section 32 Application for a Person with Intellectual Disability

Are you making a S32 Application now?

An experienced IDRS solicitor would be pleased to speak with you about your matter and provide whatever tips and guidance we can.

Please call call 02 9318 0144 to discuss your matter.

For more information about Section 32 applications, please check - About section 32 applications (In the legal section of this website)

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Principal Solicitor

IDRS principal solicitor Margot Morris
Date: September 2011

Margot Morris, who recently served as acting Principal Solicitor of IDRS, was confirmed as Principal Solicitor as of August 15, 2001.

In her own words...

I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the work of IDRS on an ongoing basis.

Over the last 3 years I have had intermittent locum and casual roles here and have developed an appreciation of issues affecting people with intellectual disability and the significance of the services IDRS provides. The skills and dedication of our staff and volunteers are outstanding. The resilience of many of our clients is also a source of inspiration.

I have practised as a lawyer for over 22 years, in national commercial law firms and in community legal centres.

Through my work at IDRS, the Kingsford Legal Centre, the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, UTS Community Law Centre and the Shopfront Youth Legal Centre, I have gained a good understanding of the ways in which community legal centres promote equal access to justice, and address issues particularly impacting on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people.

I have undertaken legal casework in areas including crime, victim’s compensation, unlawful discrimination, employment, housing, consumer complaints, social security and credit and debt.

Over the last 2 years I have worked as a volunteer with Cancer Council NSW (CCNSW). For 6 months I assisted with the development of a pilot pro bono legal referral service for cancer patients and their carers. After that I worked with CCNSW’s policy and advocacy unit researching and analysing legal issues related to defeating cancer.

Currently I am focusing on absorbing the new risk management guidelines for community legal centres, scheduled to take effect from 1 November this year.

I look forward to working with staff, volunteers and clients of IDRS to continue delivering high quality services that greatly benefit people with intellectual disability.

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Bail Question for Discussion (submission)

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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