The Disability Justice Strategy is a ten-year strategy. The strategy is an overarching plan, designed to inform and guide how more detailed work is formulated and acted on. It has three goals and five focus areas aimed at achieving those goals.
The three goals are:
People with disability are safe and their rights are respected:
- people with disability understand their rights
- people with disability can participate in decision making and have their wishes and preferences respected
- people with disability are protected from violence and neglect
- people with disability have the appropriate adjustments and supports to access justice and navigate the justice system.
The ACT has a disability responsive justice system:
- the civil and criminal justice system is aware and responds appropriately to disability, including making reasonable adjustments
- people with disability have access to legal services and supports
- the support needs of people with disability are recognised and reasonable adjustments are made
- people with disability have supports to avoid contact with the criminal justice system as early as possible.
Change is measured and achieved:
- systems and services recognise the need to consistent data collection
- data is collected and used to monitor improvement
- goals, priorities and activities of the strategy are evaluated, tracked and measured for outcomes
- data and evaluation are used to measure cultural change.
The goals of the Disability Justice Strategy reflect what we heard from consultations, particularly from people with disability, about their experiences with the justice system and what they thought would have made that experience better. The goals are aimed at changing the experience of people with disability, the justice system and how we measure success.
The strategy has five focus areas which have been identified as being critical to the achievement of the goals. These are:
- Focus Area 1: Information and communication
- Focus Area 2: Education and guidance
- Focus Area 3: Identification, screening and assessment
- Focus Area 4: Better service delivery
- Focus Area 5: Data, research and review.
The five focus areas are described in more detail later in the strategy.
Underneath the strategy will sit a series of action plans and review points. The action plans will contain specific activities which will fulfil the requirements of a focus area. The review points will ensure that the success (or otherwise) of the action plans is evaluated and outcomes inform the next stage of work.
Through pursuing the goals, focus areas and action plans the Disability Justice Strategy aims to change how the justice system responds to people with disability who seek access to justice.
Governance and Implementation
The Disability Justice Strategy will be put into effect through the action plans which will be formulated as part of the work of the strategy.
The strategic approach of the Disability Justice Strategy will be overseen at Director–General level through the Human Services Cluster Inter-Directorate Committee (IDC). The cluster comprises the Community Services, Health, Education, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development and Justice and Community Safety Directorates.
Tasks which need to occur to implement the strategy are to:
- formulate, undertake and/or oversee the actions under the strategy and review progress
- ensure that ACT Government initiatives and policies consider and take into account the needs of people with disability where they impact on access to justice
- noting that other government initiatives are addressing disability justice related issues, ensure that those initiatives align with the strategy.
Formulating clear action plans with initiatives that can be operationalised will be key to the success of the Disability Justice Strategy. The voices and perspectives of people with disability will be critical in the design, implementation and review of those initiatives.
Oversight of the strategy at an appropriate level will ensure that initiatives being undertaken across government will consider disability issues during the development, implementation and evaluation of those initiatives. Business units across government will need to consider the issue of access to justice for people with disability including through the provision of information and training. It will also ensure that work to develop initiatives will not be duplicated.
It is important that there be a central information point with a clear view of the range of disability justice-related activities already taking place and planned for future implementation. The development of the Disability Justice Strategy identified many examples of good practice and innovative approaches to improving access to justice for people with disability, yet these tended to occur in isolation. By establishing an overarching vision with action plans that reach across government and community we can develop a cohesive and transparent approach to better justice outcomes.