For decades, Joan Scott has worked tirelessly to ensure that people with a disability or mental health diagnosis are not disadvantaged in dealings with Victoria Police and the criminal justice system. She has been a volunteer Independent Third Person (ITP) with the Office of the Public Advocate since 1992, attending Geelong, Lara, Corio, Waurn Ponds, Torquay and Bellarine police stations.
The role of ITP requires Joan to attend police interviews when someone with a cognitive disability or mental health diagnosis is being interviewed as a suspect, witness or victim. She ensures that people are treated fairly and with respect, and helps them understand their rights throughout police processes.
Joan performed this role in an ‘on call’ capacity for many years – available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and so could be called on to attend a police interview at any time. Joan has attended more than 500 interviews as an ITP. Amazingly, she is still on the roster seven days a week in her eighties.
In addition to her work as an ITP, Joan is a volunteer Corrections Independent Support Officer with Corrections Victoria, attending disciplinary hearings for prisoners who have an intellectual disability. She is also a Justice of the Peace (JP) and an Independent Person with the Youth Referral and Independent Person Program (YRIPP). Her previous volunteer roles include Bail Justice (for 12 years) and court network volunteer, attending the Supreme Court, Family Court and Footscray Court in Melbourne in her capacity as a JP.
Joan has shown phenomenal dedication as a volunteer in the local justice system, assisting some of the most vulnerable members of the community and ensuring they are afforded their basic human rights when in contact with police.
Reviewed 06 March 2019