- small, residential-style centre for no more than 10 people
- appropriate security
- supervision by appropriately trained Disability Services Commission staff
- eligibility is limited and only those deemed as safe to live in a community setting will reside in the centre
- residents cannot leave the centre unsupervised.
The Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre has been built on a property owned by the Disability Services Commission. People with disability have been supported at this location for more than three decades.
The centre will accommodate and support some of the most vulnerable members of our community. It will be home to no more than 10 people who have been deemed to be mentally impaired accused because of their disability. They have been accused but not convicted of a crime and have been deemed by a court as unfit to plead because of their disability.
The cases of this small group of people are managed by the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board (Board). Currently when making an assessment the Board has three options available to them under the law; immediate release back to the community, prison, or a declared place. Until now, a declared place has not been built, so, although the law allowed for it, sending a person to one has not been a genuine option for the Board.
The new disability justice centre is the State’s first declared place and provides an appropriate and suitable option to house people who do not belong in prison, but need to learn behaviour that aligns with community standards. Learning this behaviour will better prepare them for their eventual return to the community.
It is widely acknowledged that people who are unfit to plead often spend much longer periods of time in prison than if they had been convicted of the offence. This is because there is nowhere else for them to go. Prison is not a suitable environment for this small group of vulnerable people with intellectual or cognitive disability.
Spending time in the secure but home-like environment of the disability justice centre will help people gain the necessary life skills and experience to help them when they eventually do return to community living. People will receive supports and services that are tailored to meet their needs and achieve their goals.
They may do their own cooking, washing, cleaning and undertake recreation activities and programs to learn socially appropriate behaviours. Eventually, they may also become involved in activities that contribute to the broader community, such as work.
The Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board (Board) will make recommendations to the Minister for Disability Services regarding residents of the disability justice centre. In deciding whether someone is suitable to live at the disability justice centre, the Board will consider a range of factors, including whether that person is deemed as safe to live in a community setting. People deemed as dangerous or posing a threat to the community will remain in prison.
Additional resources and information