In 2014, Graeme Innes AM, (then) Disability Discrimination Commissioner, launched the Australian Human Rights Commission's Equal Before the Law: Towards Disability Justice Strategies. This report highlighted the continuing barriers to equality in the Australian legal system that are experienced by people with a range of disabilities. Having ratified the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, Australia has committed to ensure equality before the law for all people with disability. Starting before the report was launched, states and territories have been working to develop and implements strategies to fulfil the promise of equality before the law. This panel discussion will focus on the range of work, including collaborative work involving government and non-government organisations, being done. It will consider what progress has been made since 2014.


Ms Robin Banks

Consultant

Biography: Robin is a human rights lawyer, activist and PhD Candidate based in Tasmania. She has a background in disability rights advocacy, public interest law practice, public policy development and advocacy. She has worked within Government, both at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and most recently as Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner until early 2017. She has also worked in the private sector as a lawyer and in the community sector as an advocate and lawyer. As Commissioner, she oversaw the work on the development of the draft Tasmanian Disability Justice Plan.


Ms Deborah Byrne
Brain Injury Association of Tasmania,
CEO Deborah Byrne is the Executive Officer of Brain Injury Association of Tasmania (BIAT), a small not-for-profit organisation dedicated to driving change to improve the lives of Tasmanians living with or affected by brain injury. With brain injury often referred to as the ‘invisible’ disability, Deborah is passionate about broadening the community’s understanding of the complexities associated with, and impact of, brain injury.

Biography: Deborah Byrne is the Executive Officer of Brain Injury Association of Tasmania (BIAT), a small not-for-profit organisation dedicated to driving change to improve the lives of Tasmanians living with or affected by brain injury. With brain injury often referred to as the ‘invisible’ disability, Deborah is passionate about broadening the community’s understanding of the complexities associated with, and impact of, brain injury.


Dr Anna Arstein-Kerslake
University of Melbourne
Senior Lecturer Dr Anna Arstein-Kerslake is a Senior Lecturer at Melbourne Law School, where she developed, and leads, the Disability Human Rights Clinic (DHRC). She holds a PhD in Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), a JD from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law and a BA in Sociology from San Diego State University (SDSU). Prior to joining the University of Melbourne, she held a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) at (NUIG). Her work on the right to equal recognition before the law has been published widely, including her 2017 book, Restoring Voice to People, published by Cambridge University Press. She was a Chief Investigator on the Unfitness to Plead project, funded by the Australian Government, which applied a human rights framework to investigate the problem of indefinite detention of people with cognitive disability as a result of unfitness to plead findings. Notably, she also provided support to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on a general comment on the right to equal recognition before the law.

Biography: Dr Anna Arstein-Kerslake is a Senior Lecturer at Melbourne Law School, where she developed, and leads, the Disability Human Rights Clinic (DHRC). She holds a PhD in Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), a JD from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law and a BA in Sociology from San Diego State University (SDSU). Prior to joining the University of Melbourne, she held a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) at (NUIG). Her work on the right to equal recognition before the law has been published widely, including her 2017 book, Restoring Voice to People, published by Cambridge University Press. She was a Chief Investigator on the Unfitness to Plead project, funded by the Australian Government, which applied a human rights framework to investigate the problem of indefinite detention of people with cognitive disability as a result of unfitness to plead findings. Notably, she also provided support to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on a general comment on the right to equal recognition before the law.


Dr David Platter
SA Law Reform Institute, University of Adelaide
Deputy Director David Plater worked for a number of years with the Crown Prosecution Service in Kent and London. He was a Senior Crown Prosecutor at the Youth and Inner London Crown Court branch of the CPS. He subsequently worked from 2008 to 2018 with the State DPP in South Australia and then the SA Attorney-Gneral's Department where he was inolved with such projects as the Disability Justice Plan and the Stautes Amendment (Vulnerable Witnesses) Act 2015. He has previously lectured at the University of South Australia and the University of Tasmania (where he retains a role as an Adjunct Senior Lecturer). His PhD from the University of Tasmania in 2011 examined the development and modern application of the role of the prosecution lawyer as a 'minister of justice'. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide and is Deputy Director of the South Australian Law Reform Institute based at the Adelaide Law School.

Biography: David Plater worked for a number of years with the Crown Prosecution Service in Kent and London. He was a Senior Crown Prosecutor at the Youth and Inner London Crown Court branch of the CPS. He subsequently worked from 2008 to 2018 with the State DPP in South Australia and then the SA Attorney-Gneral's Department where he was inolved with such projects as the Disability Justice Plan and the Stautes Amendment (Vulnerable Witnesses) Act 2015. He has previously lectured at the University of South Australia and the University of Tasmania (where he retains a role as an Adjunct Senior Lecturer). His PhD from the University of Tasmania in 2011 examined the development and modern application of the role of the prosecution lawyer as a 'minister of justice'. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide and is Deputy Director of the South Australian Law Reform Institute based at the Adelaide Law School.


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