Campaign Principles


The Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign is seeking the implementation of the following principles:

  • That you cannot imprison people with an Intellectual Disability/Acquired Brain Injury in a maximum-security prison when they have not been found guilty of a crime
  • The removal of Section 43ZC (Indefinite Detention) from the Northern Territory Criminal Code
  • That Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are involved in the development of a legislative and programmatic response
  • That Intellectual Disability/Acquired Brain Injury (ID/ABI) is a condition that does not change and is lifelong while Mental Illness is an illness where people experience periods of wellness and unwellness. Therefore ID/ABI and Mental Illness cannot be treated as the same response in the same facility
  • Specific amendments to Disability Act and the Mental Health Act outlining the principles and mechanisms by which people with a cognitive impairment who commit crimes or are assessed as a risk to the community are detained
  • That custodial or non-custodial options that restrict the freedoms of people with a cognitive impairment with offending histories have at their core treatment that is of significant benefit
  • That there needs to be a continuum of accommodation and treatment options that have varying levels of restrictions that depend on ongoing, consistent,  independent clinical assessments that provide a pathway from custodial to non-custodial and back into the community
  • A balancing of the rights of offenders (to review, to a range of sentencing options, to treatment of significant benefit, to access to advocacy) with the rights of the community to safety
  • An ‘independent of government’ guardianship service that is better funded
  • Joint Management Committee between Department of Health and Department of Justice overseeing the development and implementation of a response

Specifically, the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign is seeking:

  • Custodial and non-custodial accommodation and treatment options other than
  • indefinite incarceration in maximum-security jails
  • Custodial accommodation options that provide treatment of significant benefit
  • Non-custodial accommodation and treatment options that provide treatment of significant benefit where people require supervision but do need to be incarcerated in a custodial setting
  • Improved ‘Quality of Care’ for people in custody, specifically:
  • Improved psychiatric care
  • Improved legislative protections for people with cognitive impairments on custodial and non-custodial orders
  • Access to culturally relevant support including the use of interpreters and specialist traditional Aboriginal support workers
  • Improved psychoeducational training
  • Improved support for post release pathways to allow for the transition from custodial to non-custodialand back into the community
  • Review of the existing legislative provisions pertaining to mental impairment and unfitness to stand trial, to allow people to raise a legitimate defence of mental impairment without opening themselves to possibility of indefinite imprisonment.
  • Defining the scope of the proposed Mental Health Behavioural Management Facility
  • People with an intellectual disability / acquired brain injury do not have a mental illness and behavior issues cannot be responded to with a ‘one size fits all response’
  • A secure facility that is not part of a continuum of custodial and non-custodial accommodation and treatment options will just become another detention centre

Treatment of Significant Benefit’ must be at the core of any response that manages people with a cognitive benefit who have offending behaviours.