Legal education boost aims to help SA people with disabilities understand justice system


December 03, 2017 13:37:34

People living with disability have at times been unable to navigate the justice system, South Australia’s Legal Services Commission has conceded, but it has led to a greater effort to improve their access.

New short films and audio material have been developed to help explain complex legal issues in plain language.

“There have been times in the past when people with disabilities have been unable to access justice because of their disability — that’s a very unsatisfactory position,” commission director Gabrielle Canny said.

“Equal access to justice is a fundamental part of our society. When people with disabilities are involved in the justice system it is imperative that we take steps to ensure their views are communicated, are heard and acted on.”

The materials explain such things as police processes, the right to silence and the bail process.

“People with disabilities are much more likely to be victims of crime or to come into contact with the justice system,” Ms Canny said.

“It is essential they have the legal support and information they require.”

Legal jargon deciphered

Kathryn Hall, a performer with No Strings Attached theatre company for nearly a decade, helped the legal sector develop the new resources for those with disabilities.

“Police and lawyers and social workers sometimes they can use big, big words, big terms,” she said.

Ms Hall said it was important to ensure such language could be readily deciphered by people without legal expertise.

Anton Sagrillo, who uses a computerised device to communicate, played an acting role in the video material and said the experience was fun.

Mr Sagrillo said the resources would help empower people with disabilities.

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