The Report focuses on people with disabilities who need communication supports or who have complex and multiple support needs and who have come in contact with the criminal justice system. Negative assumptions and attitudes, coupled with a lack of support services and minimal provision of adjustments, often means that people with disabilities are viewed as not credible, not capable of giving evidence or unable to participate in legal proceedings. As a result many are left without effective access to justice. The Report proposes that in light of the substantial challenges that exist, each jurisdiction in Australia should develop an holistic, over-arching response to these issues through a Disability Justice Strategy. The Disability Justice Strategy should address a core set of principles and include fundamental actions that are concerned with appropriate communications, early intervention and diversion, increased service capacity, effective training, enhanced accountability and monitoring, and better policies and frameworks.
The Report is the culmination of Australia-wide consultations, which included public meetings held in every state and territory and over 100 individual meetings with members of the police, state and territory Attorneys-General, corrective services, the judiciary, people with disability, community groups and academics. In addition the Australian Human Rights Commission received approximately 90 submissions from interested parties noting the barriers and gaps in access to justice in the criminal justice system.
I want to thank all of you who made contributions through participation in the consultations or submissions. I also want to thank Professor Eileen Baldry of the University of New South Wales, John Walsh AM of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Daniel Creasey of DLA Piper - as well as all who worked with them, for their contributions to this project. Their contributions can be found here: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/access-justice-criminal-justice-system-people-disability. Finally, may I thank Commission staff and contractors who made this report possible.
I encourage you to share your feedback on this Report by emailing your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the report here