Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New resource will help judicial officers assist people with disabilities in court

The Commission will be working with the Judicial College of Victoria to develop a resource for judicial officers to assist with meeting the needs of people with disabilities in court.

The development of the resource is one of two recommendations to the Judicial College of Victoria arising from the Commission's report Beyond doubt: the experiences of people with disabilities reporting crime.

While Beyond Doubt focused on police practice, it also revealed challenges and barriers relating to people with disabilities accessing courts. These included:

  • difficulties for people with disabilities preparing for court including physical access and ensuring individuals are physically and emotionally prepared for the process
  • barriers in the conduct of the proceedings and uncertainty around the practical application of Evidence Act 2008 (Vic) provisions allowing people with disabilities to give evidence by any appropriate means
  • police discontinuing investigations based on assumptions about prospects of success in court due to these barriers.

This resource will provide detailed guidance for judges, magistrates and VCAT members on possible adjustments and improvements to court processes, interactions and facilities to meet the needs of people with disabilities and allow equal participation.

More information about this project will be available soon.