Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and Seniors Rights Victoria recently spoke up for People with an Intellectual Disability living in rural and regional Victoria.
On the 28th of May the Victorian Government’s Inquiry “Access to and Interaction with the Justice System by People with an Intellectual Disability and their Families and Carers” sat in Bendigo.
The sitting provided Loddon Campaspe CLC with an opportunity to present recommendations based on the experiences of our clients and to support submissions from centres such as the Disability Discrimination Legal Service and the Federation of Community Legal Centres.
Loddon Campaspe CLC pointed out to the Committee that people with an intellectual disability living in rural communities faced additional and different barriers to justice when compared with people living in a city.
Our submission noted several key barriers to justice, notably
- Regional justice black spots (where no community legal centre exists to support people who cannot afford a private solicitor or who are ineligible for legal aid, eg the Goulburn Valley)
- The difficulty faced by people with an intellectual disability comprehending legal process and procedure
- The lack of awareness amongst this population of legal rights and options
- The lack of control people with an intellectual disability have managing their affairs
- The lack of support for parents with an intellectual disability
Our submission’s arguments were supported by case studies drawn from our clients’ experiences, covering issues ranging from the vulnerability of such clients to unsolicited marketing calls, administrators failing to deal with infringement notices, contested wills and child protection matters.
We made several recommendations:
- That further funding be provided to specialist legal and support services for people with an intellectual disability living in a rural, regional or remote area.
- That funding be provided for the establishment of a permanent community legal centre in the Goulburn Valley region.
- That medical-legal partnerships be explored and funded to understand and alleviate the socio-legal impacts on health.
- That supports for parents with an intellectual or cognitive disability be improved in regional and rural Victoria.
- That administrators and guardians are trained to undertake their responsibilities within a human rights framework.
- That special circumstances lists should be established in regional courts.