Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) discussion paper
20 July 2017
DDWA has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) discussion paper on incarceration rates of Aboriginal people and supports the recommendation that people with unpaid fines should not be imprisoned.
DDWA CEO Taryn Harvey is co-convenor of the Australian Disability Justice Campaign – a national campaign on barriers to justice by people with impairments, with a particular focus on Aboriginal people. She also acts as independent advocate for a number of Aboriginal people with impairments in the justice system including Gene Gibson, Marlon Noble, and ‘Jason’ – who has been subject to indefinite custody for more than 14 years since we was found unfit to stand trial at 14 years of age after causing the death of his cousin in a car accident.
Ms Harvey said in response to this ALRC report: “We are particularly pleased that it draws attention to the higher risks for incarceration by Aboriginal people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities. DDWA was included in consultations in developing the discussion paper, and we specifically contacted the Commission to raise the issues of disability and also indefinite custody. ”
The discussion paper quotes ALS WA evidence to the recent Senate inquiry on indefinite custody estimating that 95% of Aboriginal people charged with offences appearing before court have an intellectual or cognitive disability or mental illness. “Some will of course have multiple impairments”, said Ms Harvey. “Add to that the fact that many of these people will also have communication that is impaired in some way which makes it difficult for them to understand and participate in court proceedings. We saw this in the Gene Gibson case.”
Taryn Harvey’s media release, 20 July 2017:
Law Reform Commission Report a Clarion Call to Action
To download and read the Report at the ALRC website: