Human rights violations, legal help and people with intellectual disabilities

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Human Rights

People with intellectual disability are subject to multiple forms of marginalisation, disadvantage and stereotyping. People with intellectual disability also have a high level of contact with the government through being the recipient of services and support.

Human rights are one way that marginalisation, disadvantage and stereotyping can be addressed and the relationships that people with intellectual disability have with the government can be respectful and fair.

People with intellectual disability are disproportionately represented in criminal justice and care and protection. Serious decisions are made by government officials and courts concerning the removal of their liberties and the removal of their children and parental responsibility. People with intellectual disability need legal safeguards to ensure that their treatment by government officials and their process through these systems is fair and just.

Human rights could place a positive obligation on government departments to consider human rights in the formulation of policies and legislation that will affect people with intellectual disability and in the making of individual decisions about people with intellectual disability, including service provision to people with intellectual disability. Such a positive obligation is important for people with intellectual disability who might not have the resources or the advocacy skills to assert their legal rights in court. Moreover, people with intellectual disability might not be aware of their human rights because they cannot access information in simple, easy to understand English. People from Aboriginal or culturally and linguistically diverse communities might experience particular difficulties in accessing information.

It is important that the Government ensures that any human rights principles and standards that are introduced are themselves accessible. Particular steps may need to be taken to ensure that adults with intellectual disability are assisted to understand human rights and have opportunities to realise their rights, including through the provision of accessible information and advocacy support.