Law Reform to Smooth Way for the Disabled

A Laverton woman with a vision impairment says people with a disability should not automatically be barred from jury duty.

Annmarie Kelly, who has a seeing eye dog named Ouzo, says she can see only at extremely close range.

But she believes that should not prohibit her from being considered as a juror.

Her comments come as the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) calls for feedback on laws which treat people with a disability unfairly.

Asked how she would be able to see visual evidence if required by a court, Ms Kelly said the law should look at how it could include people with a disability.

“When I first got asked to go on jury duty … they said, no you can’t do it because you’re blind,” Ms Kelly said.

“There’s always ways around things. I’m extremely shortsighted, is the way I put it, which means I’ve got close-up vision. There is adaptive technology to help vision-impaired people see things.” The ALRC has released an issues paper looking at how the law discriminates against people with a disability in areas such as employment, voting, jury duty, going to court, marriage and adoption.

“We think the law may need to change so people with a disability are allowed to be part of a jury,” the paper states.

It adds that people with a disability should be able to control and borrow money, and that “we must make sure voting is easy and secret”.

Ms Kelly said people should be aware of proposed changes and have the opportunity to provide input.

“It’s about changing the law to make it more equal for people with disabilities.

“A better understanding of disabilities in society would be great.”

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Human Rights, Social Justice, Case Studies, Legal, Corrections, Justice System

Goya Dmytryshchak

Maribynong & Hobsons Bay Weekly

Date published:
Thu 1st Jan, 1970