' I am a person with intellectual disability and I’ve developed this presentation myself with Ben. Our presentation uses experiences from my life as an example of how to turn negatives into positives and become more involved in the community.'
This co-developed and co-presented paper will explore a first person perspective of reintegration from someone with an intellectual disability and a long history of contact with the criminal justice system. It will explore the intersection between Justen’s service and support needs and the outcomes that can be achieved for services users when individually tailored, holistic supports are implemented. The Intellectual Disability Rights Service has been proactively involved in Justen’s reintegration journey through legal assistance, court and police station support, education and training and peer-to-peer support. This multimedia presentation will use reflective interviews and personal history to demonstrate how Justen made positive and lasting changes in his life and what support made a difference along the way. Ultimately the presentation is a celebration of what is possible against all odds, with courage, determination and appropriate and targeted supports and of how the criminal justice cycle can be definitively broken.


Justen Thomas
Supported by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service
Self advocate/ Motivational Speaker/ Service user

Biography: Justen believes in 'raising the bar and achieving my goals and inspiring future generations to come.' He has used his personal experiences of living with intellectual disability and coming in contact with the criminal justice system to inspire others to 'turn the negatives into positives' and to make 'smart choices to stay on the right track'. Justen is a trained peer-to-peer facilitator. In 2016 Justen received a grant from the Consumer Development Fund to develop and present his own workshop to inspire young people with disability to plan towards their own life goals. Justen also presented at the VALID Self Advocacy conference in Geelong Victoria in both 2016 and 2017. In 2017 he also presented at the Leaders Forum of the Disability Justice Project in NSW. Justen has also been involved in training videos for both the Intellectual Disability Rights Service and the University of NSW. Justen is an avid traveller and has travelled independently to many different parts of the world. He is currently planning his next trip to Uluru. (Biography authorised by Justen and written by Ben Garcia-Lee)

Justen will co-present at the 2018 Reintegration conference with Ben Garcia-Lee, Manager of the Cognitive Impairment Diversion program at the Intellectual Disability Rights Service, who has presented and worked closely with Justen for the last 3 years. Ben has a Masters in Social Work and will be commencing his PhD in life history work with people with intellectual disability at UNSW in 2019


Benjamin Garcia-Lee
Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS)
Manager- Cognitive Impairment Diversion Program -

Biography: -


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