Monday 22 April 2013

The Australian Human Rights Commission is so concerned about the barriers being experienced by people with disability in the criminal justice system - whether as victims of crime, people accused of crimes, offenders or witnesses - it’s calling on Australians with disability to come forward and share their experiences in a bid to improve access to justice.       

Today, the Commission will hold its’ first roundtable to discuss the issue, hearing from those with first-hand experience as well as representatives from the justice sector and disability advocates.

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes says there are a number of barriers which prevent people with disability from receiving the justice they deserve.

“People with disabilities can face negative attitudes and stereotypes, as well as a failure in the criminal justice system to provide the right sort of support services,” said Commissioner Innes.

The Commission is particularly concerned about barriers to justice for people with disability who are victims of violence and abuse and cannot access the protections they need or seek justice.

Commissioner Innes also highlighted an example of where the justice system has failed a person with disability, namely the extraordinary case of Marlon Noble in Western Australia “He spent ten years in prison despite no trial, no guilty verdict and today, he’s under 24/7 supervision.  All because he was deemed unfit to plead due to his intellectual disability”.

The roundtable will be held at the University of New South Wales, where Professor Eileen Baldry will speak about her research in the area of the criminal justice system and people with cognitive disability.

“In both juvenile and adult prisons the over-representation of people with cognitive and mental disabilities is marked, with around half of the prison population having significantly lower levels of cognitive skill or, at some point, a mental health disorder,” said Professor Baldry.

Date and Time: Monday April 22,  9.30am – 10.30am open to media
Venue: UNSW Council Chambers, Chancellery Building, High St, Upper Campus, UNSW Kensington. Parking on Botany St.

Media contact:  Sarah Bamford  0417 957 525