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Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry to address outcomes of National Disability Strategy 2010-2020



This week we had completed a new submission to address the outcomes of the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (NDS). In this submission, we emphasised our concern with the implementation of the NDS and the actions that have been implemented through Outcome 2 ‘Rights protection, justice and legislation’. in the areas of people with disabilities in the justice process, including prisons, child protection and guardianship. The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (NDS) is the foundation of Australia’s work to advance disability rights and recognises the experiences and needs of people with disabilities and their families are central to the Strategy, its vision and its principles’.

The Strategy is the national policy framework for guiding Australian governments to meet their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and to implement the CRPD across a range of key outcome areas. Bluntly, very little has been done to implement Outcome 2, and few outcomes have been recorded as achievements either Australia-wide or in the ACT. There has been more focus on the National Disability Strategy outcome areas around employment, personal and community support, economic security and health and wellbeing, particularly with the implementation and rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2010 is in year seven of a ten year strategy and three years remaining. The section of Outcome 2 ‘Rights protection, justice and legislation’ has seen no real action at either the ACT or national level.

The number of people with disabilities in the prison system Australia-wide, including the ACT, is significant and acknowledged, yet there is no consistent national data collected on people with disabilities in the criminal justice system.  Collecting national data will enable policy development in eliminating overrepresentation of people with disabilities entering and exiting the justice system.

Parents with cognitive disabilities continue to be over-represented in the child protection system and face significant barriers to reasonable participation in our justice system in child protection.  The number of parents with disabilities that face child removal by child protective services is very high, yet data about disability remains uncollected.

Despite the impact on self-determination and civil rights of guardianship orders, there is no presumption of legal representation for those facing the imposition of substitute decision making orders. The rights of people with disabilities who are subject to guardianship proceedings and have not been offered legal representation are not engaging in a fair and equitable justice process.

There are no current comprehensive policies in place to address Outcome 2 of the National Disability Strategy. While this continues the over representation of people with disabilities across all areas of the criminal and civil justice system will continue. Without systematic data collection, Australia will struggle to understand the scale and nature of what it is facing and continue to disadvantage and marginalise people with disabilities in the justice process.

It is highly critical that we get this right and there is little time left.

Check out our submission here in Word or PDF format: Access to Justice

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