Closing date: December 18, 2023
Consultation for the next Victoria Police Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) 2024-2026 is now open. As part of this, Victoria Police has released a community survey seeking input from people with disability, families, carers, community members, and the disability sector. The survey is an opportunity for the disability community to help shape the next AAP. Listening … Continued
It’s Christmas Day. A man paces the caged courtyard attached to his secure unit. There are bits of tinsel strewn around it – an attempt to bring colour into his world. He’s rarely left this space in the past 11 years. There’s no date for his release. He’s never been convicted of a crime. Adrian* … Continued
The Spring 2023 Edition of the Canberra Disability Review is out now. It’s online and free and has a focus on the justice system and disability. Articles include lived experience contributions that highlight the compounded disadvantage for the disproportionate number of people with disability who are incarcerated.
Closing date: September 8, 2023
Three annual scholarships are awarded to Victorian students with disability studying at the diploma, advanced diploma, undergraduate or postgraduate level. Scholarships are paid over two years for full-time study, and pro-rata payments are available for recipients in part-time study. One scholarship is valued at $40,000 and two scholarships are valued at $10,000 each.
The report finds that there is a critical need for improved visibility of people with disability within the criminal justice system and for greater transparency of outcomes in relation to programs designed to support their re-entry (including housing outcomes). Many of the programs designed to support people leaving correctional facilities have a limited evidence base and focus on recidivism to the exclusion of other related factors, such as housing and access to services that support people with disability to live independently in the community. Likewise, many supportive housing programs have not been evaluated for justice-involved people with disability.
Victoria is lagging other countries by effectively excluding people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision from serving on juries. The state’s law reform commission is calling for an overhaul of the justice system to enable juries to be inclusive, a change it said was “well overdue”, in a report tabled in parliament on Tuesday.
Jury duty is an important civic duty associated with active citizenship. Barriers to jury service in current law and practice are out of touch with community expectations, laws and policies about non-discrimination and the inclusion of people with disabilities in public life. This report recommends ways to remove barriers from current law and practice that prevent people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision from serving on juries.
In 2021, Equality Lawyers and Picture Human Rights joined forces to create Disability Rights in Real Life, a law handbook for people with disabilities, their families and supporters. Disability Rights in Real Life aims to provide the disability community with information on their rights and to know when they might need a disability rights lawyer. … Continued
Closing date: May 26, 2023
Victoria Police Portfolio Reference Groups provide advice, expertise, and feedback to assist Victoria Police in their engagement with diverse communities. Expressions of interest are now being taken for new members to join the Disability Portfolio Reference Group. Members should have a high level of knowledge of issues affecting people with disability and a willingness to … Continued
While many Australians go to great lengths to avoid serving on a jury, Brent Phillips has spent nearly a decade fighting for his right to take part in his civic duty. In 2014, he was selected for jury duty in his home state of Victoria. “I was quite excited to be honest, I have a legal background, and I have qualifications in criminology,” he said. But once the courts found out Mr Phillips was deaf he was excluded from service, even though he wanted to participate.
This report lays bare the failures of Victoria’s criminal justice system in a comprehensive assessment that reveals “jailing is failing”. It is increasingly clear that in Victoria, the growth in the adult imprisonment rate has not been driven by severity of offending or crime, but rather by systemic failings, and policy and legislative choices, that have resulted in people being funnelled unnecessarily into imprisonment. In particular, this includes those denied bail and awaiting sentencing and those denied parole.
People with disabilities in the criminal justice system feel like they exist in a “black hole” after an international torture prevention body cancelled a visit to Australia. “We’re locking them up and throwing away the key … their behaviour is misinterpreted as wilful defiance or criminal intention but it’s often just the product of their disability.”
This week the disability royal commission heard tales of abuse and neglect from people with disabilities in youth detention and adult prisons. One woman described being constantly dropped while being moved in and out of her wheelchair and said she was denied physiotherapy to slow the progression of muscular dystrophy. An Indigenous man said he was denied his antidepressants and asthma puffer. A hearing-impaired man said he didn’t have an Auslan interpreter for weeks.
The report confirmed that understanding: compared with the total population of NSW, people with disability were more than twice as likely to be victims of reported violence and domestic violence offences.
Then there are the criminals who prefer more of a hands-off approach, using accomplices such as doctors, pharmacists and accountants to exploit loopholes by variously billing for “clients” who don’t exist, padding invoices and charging for services that are never delivered, relying on poor auditing within the NDIS to go undetected.