Disability Justice Centre

Disability Justice Centres provide secure accommodation facilities to house people who are mentally impaired and have been charged with an offense.
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A Disability Justice Centre provides secure accommodation facilities to house people that have been charged with an offense and have an intellectual and cognitive disability. It is an alternative to holding them in prison, where they can be left vulnerable among convicted criminals.

These centres are designed for people charged with an offence but are:

  • unable to understand the court process because of their disability, and
  • ruled unfit to plead guilty or not guilty.

To be eligible to be a resident in a Disability Justice Centre, a person must:

  • be over 16 years old and
  • have been assessed as not being a risk to the community.

Centres are built with the following considerations (in order of priority):

  1. protection and safety of the community
  2. protection and safety of residents
  3. best interests of residents who are not adults

The Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre

The Department of Communities manages the Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre in Caversham. It is the only 'declared place' in Western Australia under the the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (the CLMIA Act). 

The Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre 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.

It is a residential-style facility that can accommodate 10 mentally impaired accused who are:

  • on a Custody Order under the CLMIA Act,
  • over 16 years old,
  • have a disability as defined in the Disability Services Act 1993 and the predominant reason for the disability is not mental illness.

'Mentally impaired accused' are people who are:

  • accused of a criminal offence but are found to be mentally unfit to stand trial
  • not guilty on the grounds of unsoundness of mind
  • on a Custody Order under the CLMIA Act when the charge against them is dismissed without a finding of guilt

To protect the rights of residents, Mental Health Advocacy Services are provided under similar terms to those under the Mental Health Act 2014. 

Your rights in a Disability Justice Centre

Residents’ rights include the right to:

  • programs and services
  • have residents’ rights explained
  • freedom of communication
  • an individual development plan (IDP)
  • protection from ill-treatment
  • welfare and safe custody
  • an advocate
  • confidentiality

How we can help

Mental Health Advocates can assist residents of Disability Justice Centres to protect and enforce their rights by:

  • facilitating access to legal services
  • referring unresolved issues to others including the Chief Mental Health Advocate
  • listening to and seek to resolve resident complaints
  • making formal complaints under Part 6 of the Disability Services Act 1993 on behalf of residents, and
  • acting as the resident’s representative

The Chief Advocate provides an Annual Report on the activities of the Advocates to the Minister for Disability Services. This report is presented to both houses of Parliament.

To find out more information visit the Disability Justice Centre and the Disability Services Commission websites.

About custody orders

Section 24 of the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (WA), requires an accused to be detained in:

  • an authorised hospital,
  • a 'declared place',
  • a detention centre or
  • a prison.

However, a mentally impaired accused cannot be detained in an authorised hospital unless the accused has a mental illness that is capable of being treated. So, accused who suffer from a cognitive impairment are not suitable for a hospital placement.

Depending on the status of the mental illness, some accused persons may not need treatment and cannot be detained in a hospital. For these accused, the effective custodial option is prison or a 'declared place'.

More information about custody orders and the Mentally Impaired Accused can be found on the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board web site.