Inclusive, contextual, human rights based: designing a resource to improve justice and support outcomes for people with disability in the criminal justice system of Victoria

Kate Goodwin1, Stan Winford2  Michael Haralambous2 Dorothy Armstrong2

1Paper Giant, Melbourne, Australia,

2RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice, Melbourne, Australia

People with mental ill health and cognitive impairments (“people with disability”) are significantly over-represented in the Victorian criminal justice system. For example, 2011 research estimated that 42% of male and 33% of female prisoners have an Acquired Brain Injury. Lack of appropriate supports for people with disability, coupled with stigma and discrimination, perpetuate cycles of disadvantage and lead to increased contact with the criminal justice system.

Recognising these factors, RMIT University’s Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) established the Supporting Justice project in 2018 to improve the justice system’s responses to mental health and disability.

This session gives practical insights into how CIJ and strategic design partner Paper Giant employed inclusive research and engagement methods over 10 months with people with lived experience, legal and court professionals, support workers, and government services to co-create an online resource responding to two key needs:

  1. Help legal and court professionals recognise the signs of disability and act accordingly; and
  2. Ensure people with disability get appropriate and timely support

Four project members will share their experiences of creating the resource:

  • Adviser and peer support worker with lived experience
  • Human centred design lead
  • Legal and justice system experts

The discussion will cover how we:

– Used mapping techniques to identify points of intervention to make change

– Embedded human rights based principles in the design process

– Used co-design methods with people with lived experience, legal and court professionals and government services to co-create resource concepts 

– Prototyped and tested concepts leading to delivery in June 2019

– Plan to evaluate how and where the resource is having impact

The discussion will feature co-design workshop materials and outputs, prototypes, and excerpts from research engagement with people with lived experience and legal and court professionals. The audience will be invited to ask questions at the end.


Kate Goodwin
Experience Design & Strategy Lead
Paper Giant

Kate is Experience Design & Strategy Lead at Paper Giant, a Melbourne-based strategic design consultancy. Kate has over 14 years experience in user research, product and strategic service design to meet diverse user needs and expectations.

Kate has extensive experience working with the justice sector, including work for Inner Melbourne Community Legal (IMCL), the RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice, and the NSW Department of Justice. She has presented work on design for the justice sector at ANZSOC 2016, RSA London and the Victoria Law Foundation. 

Her most recent work has involved designing a legal support referral response for emergency services.


Dorothy Armstrong
Adviser and Peer Support Worker
RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice

Dorothy (Doddy) Armstrong is working on the CIJ’s Supporting Justice Project as an adviser and peer support worker.

She was previously involved in the Centre for Innovative Justice’s Enabling Justice Project as a member of the Justice User Group.

In 2018 she received a Victorian Disability Award for her advocacy work for people living with disability and trauma.

Stan Winford
Associate Director of Research, Innovation & Reform
RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice

Stan is a legal and justice system expert with experience in innovation and reform, including user centred design and applications for restorative and therapeutic justice in criminal and civil law.

Stan’s work has included projects to better respond to the needs of victims of crime, improve justice responses to mental health, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury and cognitive impairment, and more effective approaches to reducing future offending.

Michael Haralambous
Senior Adviser, Research and Policy
RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice

Michael Haralambous is a criminal solicitor who has worked with Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. He has worked as a duty lawyer in metropolitan and regional Victoria on the front lines of the criminal justice system.

Michael also has experience working in justice system policy at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

Since joining the CIJ earlier this year, Michael has worked on the Centre’s Supporting Justice projects with people with cognitive disability and lived experience of the criminal justice system.

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