16 February 2021
The overrepresentation of First Nations People with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system warrants own Disability Royal Commission Hearing
People with cognitive disability will share their experiences with the criminal justice system at the Disability Royal Commission hearing in Brisbane starting today.
First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) are calling for the Disability Royal Commission to establish a dedicated First Nations hearing to investigate the overrepresentation and indefinite detention of First Nations People with Disability in the criminal justice system.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned with one third reporting a disability, 50% reporting a history of psychosocial disability, and 25-30% of prisoners having an intellectual disability.
“By the time that an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has come into contact with the justice system, they are likely to have had a lifetime of their disability related needs having been unsupported” said Mr Damian Griffis, CEO, First Peoples Disability Network.
“We know that over half of all Australian children imprisoned on any given night are Indigenous, and localised data indicates that nearly all have some form of cognitive impairment, and this needs to be investigated further.”
“We urgently need comprehensive data about how many people with disability, including First Nations children, are in detention” said Mr Griffis. “We also need immediate investment in disability advocacy supports, including First Nations disability advocates who specialise in justice matters.”
“There also need to be a nationwide approach to an effective custody notification service with a focus on disability. We remain deeply concerned and distressed that First Nations people continue to die in custody, and that many of these people are First Nations people with disability” urged Mr Griffis.
The Disability Royal Commission must pay immediate and particular attention to the situation of First Nations people with disability with regard to indefinite detention. The Disability Royal Commission must look at the Institutionalised forms of discrimination that underlies the criminal justice system, investigate the barriers First Nations people with disability face when accessing disability supports at all contact points of the criminal justice system, and acknowledge the need for Intersectional, quantitative data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in detention.
FPDN support the call for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in line with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) recommendations.
First Peoples Disability Network Australia