ACT Disability Justice Strategy Shows Progress and Opportunities for Improvement

ACT, Australia

Article: A new evaluation report on the ACT’s Disability Justice Strategy – First Action Plan has highlighted the significant strides made in improving access to justice for people with disability in the Territory. However, the report also identified areas where further efforts are needed to enhance experiences in the justice system. The Disability Justice Strategy 2019-2029, a ten-year plan developed by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and the ACT Office for Disability in the Community Services Directorate, aims to ensure equal access to justice for people with disability.

The independent report found that the First Action Plan successfully raised awareness of disability across justice agencies, enhanced staff knowledge and understanding of disability, and led to an increase in the screening and identification of disability and assessments for individuals with disability indicators. Key findings of the report include positive shifts in awareness of disability justice within agencies, the crucial role of Disability Liaison Officers (DLOs) in supporting individuals with disability in navigating the justice system, and increased staff knowledge and understanding of disability, leading to more appropriate and effective service delivery.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury emphasized the ACT Government’s commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable justice system. While acknowledging the significant progress made, he noted that there is more work to be done to ensure that people with disability have the same opportunities for justice as everyone else. Minister for Disability Rachel Stephen-Smith reiterated the government’s commitment to considering the findings and recommendations of the report as they build on the successes of the First Action Plan. Minister for Corrections and Justice Health Emma Davidson added that a justice system that considers the person as a whole and supports their needs leads to better rehabilitative outcomes. The ACT Government is currently developing the Second Action Plan of the Disability Justice Strategy for release later in 2024.