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This forum will explore the human rights and legal issues for people with a psychiatric disability and cognitive impairment (intellectual disability/acquired brain injury) who come before the courts and are assessed as having a mental impairment and then found unfit to plead. This legislative process was designed as an alternative pathway through the courts for people with psychiatric disabilities and cognitive impairments who could not enter a plea or understand the criminal justice system. Unfortunately this process is having dire consequences in terms of liberty for people who are subject to its findings.
In a number of states and territories across Australia being assessed as mentally impaired and then found unfit to plead leads to indefinite detention in prisons and psychiatric units. Despite not being convicted of a crime, detention is often indefinite because there are no alternative accommodation and treatment options other than prisons or psychiatric units. In the Northern Territory, detention is in a maximum security prison. In Western Australia you do not have the right to appeal the findings.
This practice is disproportionately affecting Aboriginal people with psychiatric disabilities and cognitive impairments. It is the criminalisation of disability.
The Aboriginal disability justice campaign is a national advocacy campaign looking to shine a light on this practice. Representing the campaign, Patrick Keyzer (Barrister - Bond University) and Phillip French (Australian Center for Disability Law) will present on key legal and human rights issue they believe central to this issue. As well they will present on actions they are currently facilitating in the Australian Human Rights Commission and the courts.
Ph: (03) 9905 3327