Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Human Rights Violations Against People With Disabilities

On 18th November 2015, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station to discuss the United Nations concerns about the human rights violations of Australians with disabilities. Kelly Vincent also discussed the Dignity for Disability film screening of He Named Me Malala and the Disability Pride Parade. Here is the audio and transcript from the interview.

Pam Green: Time now to welcome to 5RPH, Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent. Hi Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Hello Pam.

Pam Green: Well first of, I understand that United Nations last week expressed some concerns about the human rights violations of Australians with disabilities. Can you tell us about what their concerns were?

Kelly Vincent: Certainly, the United Nations have expressed some very serious concerns about some very serious issues to do with the human rights of people with disabilities. Particularly, the high prevalence of violence against women and children with disability and the need to address the indefinite detention of people with disability in the criminal justice system. So for example, that might be people who commit an offense or crime, and then are found not guilty because they might not have had the mental capacity to understand the crime that they were committing at the time, for example because of a brain injury or a mental illness. And yet they can still end up basically being housed in prison due to the lack of adequate and accessible community housing available to them. So that’s what the United Nations are referring to when they refer to the indefinite detention of people with disabilities in the prison system. Even people with disabilities who’ve been found not guilty of a crime are being imprisoned in Australia in 2015.

The United Nations also expressed concerns about forced sterilisation for women and girls with disabilities, so where women and girls will have their ability to have children taken away through a medical procedure, which often occurs because it’s assumed that the person may not have the capacity to be an adequate mother down the track. Often this is happening to women or girls with disabilities when they’re extremely young, maybe even as young as four or five. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, how do we know if anyone is going to become a good mother when they’re four or five years old? Whether they have a disability or not. So the fact that this is happening on any scale on the pure basis of disability is an unacceptable human rights breach.

Pam Green: So what obligations does South Australia have to the United Nations in relation to people with disabilities?

Kelly Vincent: Well you would be well aware Pam that Australia has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol since 2008. So we are specifically legally obligated to meet the human rights of people with disabilities as outlined by the many articles in the United Nations Convention in the areas of education; to the rights of adequate health services and supports; rights to privacy; rights to accessing the community; and the right to life. So the UN Convention covers many issues relating to the human rights of people with disabilities and I’ve just outlined a few. Of course there are more though, and of course it’s important to note that people with disabilities are of course covered under all laws state, national and internationally, to which Australia is part. So we are of course under law protected from violence, we have the right to equal education, equal health services and so on. But concerning me, I think what often happens particularly to do with violence perpetrated against people with disabilities is often what would be recognised blatantly as violence is assumed to be an automatic part of supporting the person with disability.

Pam Green: Mmhmm

Kelly Vincent: So the person who needs support, either from a family member or support worker might get treated in a way that other people wouldn’t tolerate because they need that service or that support. They might be forced to continue receiving that support because they fear if they speak out about the violence they will lose the support they need to get out of bed for example, and get on with their day. So we need to make sure that people, organisations and individuals are aware of their rights and obligations and make sure that the services are provided in a way that’s free from violence and harm.

Pam Green: Speaking of human rights, I understand that you’re having a film night and the film you’re showing has a particularly pertinent theme around human rights huh?
Kelly Vincent: That’s absolutely right, speaking of human rights, Dignity for Disability is holding a fundraiser screening to support our election campaign in 2018. The film is He Named Me Malala, which is of course the story of Malala who’s the well-known activist for the education of women and girls particularly in countries where women and girls are not particularly supported to be educated. So that screening is coming up on Friday the 20th November. I’ll be hosting that screening. It starts at 6pm for a 6.30 start of the film showing at Wallis Cinema in Mitcham. Tickets are $20 or $26 if you want to buy raffle tickets with your movie tickets or its $15 for concession and I believe we can accept the Companion Card for the event as well.

Pam Green: Excellent. And also with the United Nations International Day of People with Disability coming up in early December, I understand you’re also organising a Disability Pride March, what are the details of that?

Kelly Vincent: Certainly, it’s a busy time with a number of events. We’re also taking part in the Disability Pride March together with Barriers to Justice, to raise awareness of the things that we, as the disability community have achieved but also what work remains to be done. This pride march will be taking place at 10.45am at Victoria Square, meet at the Christmas tree at the northern end of the square on Friday the 4th December. To again, rally and march together, show disability visibility with all of us with different disabilities together, to raise awareness of what we’ve achieved but also how far we have to go. So at the conclusion of the rally which marches down King William Street there will be a rally with speakers and I’ll be happy to be one of those speakers. I’m speaking about what we have achieved within Dignity for Disability but also in the broader disability community. But again, some of those issues that we touched on earlier where the human rights of people with disabilities are not being met still in 2015. So it would be great to see as many people as possible at those two events to support the human rights of people with disabilities.

Pam Green: Well a busy time for you, as always. Thanks for your time Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: Thanks Pam.