ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Joint media release: Multi-year commitment to Disability Justice Strategy welcomed

13 February 2020

Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTOSS) have today commended the ACT Government’s commitment to $4.9 million over four years to ensure the full rollout of the Disability Justice Strategy as part of today’s 2019/2020 ACT Budget Review.

The funding will be used to deliver a community of practice comprising: disability justice workers across key frontline justice agencies; the development and delivery of specific education and training to improve general awareness of the justice needs of people with disability and how the system could respond; support to increase decision-making autonomy for people with disability; and improved screening and identification of people with disability in contact with the justice system to enable early support and intervention.

Nicolas Lawler, AFI Chief Executive Officer said: “AFI welcomes a dedicated commitment to continuing the Disability Justice Strategy in the ACT. We look forward to continuing to ensure training for justice bodies, building of resources and providing advocacy support is prioritised.

“With dedicated funding opportunities, we can now improve equality before the law for people with disabilities in the ACT in our vision of an inclusive community.

“Under a cemented Disability Justice Strategy, the ACT has potential to grow a more responsive and proactive civil and criminal justice system and for people with disability to be able to seek support when they need it, with confidence.

“This also extends to organisations supporting people with disabilities – from the frontline workers right up to government agencies. Everybody will play a role,” Mr Lawler concluded.

Commending the ongoing funding, ACTCOSS Policy Manager Craig Wallace said: “the Strategy is a vital answer to a clear call from the disability community for a response to the way we are over-represented in the justice system both as victims and offenders. It is an important part of the ACT Government’s commitment under the National Disability Strategy to ensure that the ACT maintains a focus on its responsibilities and obligations to people with disability.

“Research tells us that people with disability are more likely to have legal issues in their lives, for these to continue over time and be unresolved. Better justice responses are key to addressing the spiral of trauma and abuse in our lives – currently being unveiled by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. 

“Multiyear investments, clear goals, whole of government buy in and effective implementation resources are essential for strategies to have a hope of addressing complex problems requiring deep cultural and systemic change and the Disability Justice Strategy seems to be making a good start,” Mr Wallace concluded.

AFI supports people with disabilities to be heard and to achieve the outcomes they want. ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. For more information or comment please contact:

Bonnie Millen, Senior Policy Advisor AFI, on 0491 208 058 or 02 6257 4005

Craig Wallace, Policy Manager, ACTCOSS, on 0477 200 755 or 02 6202 7208