The collapse of a South Australian sexual abuse case involving intellectually disabled children has highlighted serious barriers to justice for some Australians, Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said.
Senator Wright supports National Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes’ call for legal reform to give people with disabilities better access to justice by widening the avenues and means for courts to take evidence.
“I concur with Mr Innes that we need to see some consistency across the country to protect vulnerable witnesses who have difficulty communicating and allow then the same access to justice as other Australians,” Senator Wright said.
“The outcome of this case is very concerning as it has denied some South Australians the ability to have their time in court.
“Equality before the law is the hallmark of a civilized and fair nation. There is a balance to be struck but it is vital that our legal systems have processes which allow people to have a fair hearing – both the accused and those who have been wronged.
“I commend the South Australian government for looking into reviewing the Evidence Act but I think we need to look broadly, at a national level at what can be done to stamp out this inequality.
“The federal Standing Committee on Law and Justice must take up this issue and consider what processes, such as interpreters, could overcome the difficulties that prevent people from being heard in our courts.”
Media contact – Jennifer Maisel 0417 173 508