Access to Justice for People with Disability
22 May 2013 at 12:18 pm
Community views are being sought in South Australia on a proposed plan for improving access to the state's justice system for people with disability who are victims or offenders.
SA Attorney General John Rau has launched a discussion paper on a new Disability Justice Plan for South Australia.
“We want to hear feedback and suggestions from people who live with disability, from family members and carers, and from the disability sector, organisations who provide services, researchers, members of the legal community, in fact, everyone who has a view,” Rau said.
“We are very conscious of the need to engage people with disability in the development of these changes, and will be undertaking a comprehensive community consultation over the next two months.”
The Disability Justice Plan will include changes to the Evidence Act 1929 to improve the position of vulnerable victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system.
The discussion paper highlights particular areas for consideration and public comment, including:
• What support people with disability require to take part in the criminal justice
system on an equal basis, including the use of support people during interviews
and in court
• Overcoming barriers people with disability might face in the criminal justice system
• How abuse and exploitation of people with disability can be better prevented
• Proposed changes to the law.
“The plan will involve the development of guidelines for the taking of evidence from vulnerable victims and witnesses, and ensuring that staff who work with people with disability in the criminal justice system are appropriately trained,” Rau said.
“The prosecution of matters where a person with disability is an alleged victim will be a priority in the Plan, with increased support for vulnerable witnesses, particularly children.”
A social profit organisation that conducts research around people with disability, called JFA Purple Orange, has commended the Attorney General for championing the rights of people living with disability within Australia’s criminal justice system.
CEO Robbi Williams said the Paper was a positive step in the right direction for people living with disability.
“People living with disability face countless barriers when interacting with the justice system, whether as victims, witnesses or alleged perpetrators,” Williams said.
“This is an important opportunity for people living with disability and their families to positively influence our justice mechanisms.”
For further information about the consultation process and how to get involved, go to www.saplan.org.au/yoursay or call (08) 8463 4364.