Beyond doubt: the experiences of people with disabilities reporting crime

21 Jul 2014

People with disabilities are being routinely denied the basic human right of access to justice, this report finds.

About this project

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is an independent statutory body. We have functions under:

  • the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic)
  • the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter).

This research was conducted under section 157 of the Equal Opportunity Act. It was initiated because of concerns raised by our Disability Reference Group that people with disabilities face significant and complex barriers when seeking justice as victims of crime.

Issues around equality in policing are of particular concern to the Commission because:

  • people with disabilities may be more likely to experience violent and sexual crime than other people
  • barriers to reporting crime can prevent victims from accessing other stages of the criminal justice system
  • crimes against victims with disabilities are less likely to be successfully prosecuted.

These issues raise a number of rights protected in the Equal Opportunity Act, the Charter and in other domestic and international law.

Specifically, Victoria Police, the courts and Victorian service systems all have legal obligations to uphold the rights of people with disabilities under the Equal Opportunity Act and the Charter.

Our aim

This research sought to examine whether police services in Victoria are delivered on an equal basis for people with disabilities who are victims of crime, compared to those without disability.

Our study aimed to:

  • explore what factors have an impact – both positive and negative – on the initial contact between a person with disability and police when a crime is reported
  • gain a better understanding of the environments in which crimes against people with disabilities occur and how this affects the reporting process
  • identify what is and isn’t working well across the justice system, including during reporting, interviewing, investigation and prosecution.
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