3.4 Legal

During 2012-16, disability advocates reported assisting 76 people with legal issues in an average three-month period.

Disability advocacy Issue Legal
Number 76 people on average per quarter
Trend increasing
Rights under the CRPD Governments will:

  • recognise that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law (Article 5)
  • take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity (Article 12)
  • ensure persons with disabilities are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty (Article 14)
  • ensure every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others (Article 17)
Commitments in the State Disability Plan
  • VCAT is implementing a four-year accessibility action plan with actions to reduce barriers to accessible justice for people with diverse needs (Action 20)
  • Victoria Police is incorporating the recommendations of the VEOHRC report: Beyond doubt: the experiences of people with disabilities reporting crime (Action 21)
  • Corrections initiatives underpin and complement a service delivery action plan that promotes equal, fair and inclusive opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration of all prisoners and offenders with a disability (Action 22)



There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people reported to be seeking assistance with legal issues in the last three years (figure 11). In the 2012-13 financial year, an average of 36 people each quarter were reported as requiring assistance with a legal issue. In the subsequent three years, this more than doubled to an average of 89 each quarter.


Figure 11: Line graph showing reports of legal issues


Case study: Interpreting services for police

Jackson* is profoundly Deaf and was involved in an assault with another man on the street. The hearing man called police and had the chance to tell his side of the story while Jackson was taken into the police station to give a statement. No interpreter was provided for a few days. Jackson felt disadvantaged having no access to communication to tell the police his side of the story immediately. He wanted to advocate for a better way to communicate with police quickly.

The advocate contacted the police station in question to ensure that Jackson had an interview with an interpreter. This occurred and he was able to tell his side of the story. The advocate looked at the issue more widely and contacted the National Relay Services for more information on how to access emergency services quickly. There is a text messaging version of the National Relay Service that enables the deaf person to text 000 to a mobile number that will get people through to emergency services.

The advocate explained the process and gave the SMS emergency number to Jackson. Jackson’s expectation was that he wanted an SMS number to directly contact police, however after discussions about this with the advocate, he understood that this could not happen realistically, but was happy enough with the alternative.

* names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals