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Click on the image above to read the report....

"The lives of people with disability are often secret lives. We are routinely segregated and isolated from our non-disabled peers – we live, work and play in places which are not often frequented by those without disability. Often, we are lonely. If we do not have families, paid staff are sometimes the only people in our lives. We are shut out by barriers to participation in Australian life, and shut in when we are hidden in institutional settings."

(Report authors Samantha Connor and Ben Keely)

The Peer Connect website is for people living with disability, their families and supporters.

The website has information about having choice and control in your life, the NDIS, connecting with Peer Support Networks and getting involved with your community.


Duchenne Foundation in WA have published a great new story for children called "That's What Wings Are For". Part proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Duchenne Foundation.

Read more about it here, including an author interview 






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20 July 2017

Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) discussion paper 

DDWA has welcomed the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) discussion paper on incarceration rates of Aboriginal people and supports the recommendation that people with unpaid fines should not be imprisoned.  

DDWA CEO Taryn Harvey is co-convenor of the Australian Disability Justice Campaign – a national campaign on barriers to justice by people with impairments, with a particular focus on Aboriginal people.  She also acts as independent advocate for a number of Aboriginal people with impairments in the justice system including Gene Gibson, Marlon Noble, and ‘Jason’ – who has been subject to indefinite custody for more than 14 years since we was found unfit to stand trial at 14 years of age after causing the death of his cousin in a car accident.

Ms Harvey said in response to this ALRC report: "We are particularly pleased that it draws attention to the higher risks for incarceration by Aboriginal people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities.  DDWA was included in consultations in developing the discussion paper, and we specifically contacted the Commission to raise the issues of disability and also indefinite custody. " 

The discussion paper quotes ALS WA evidence to the recent Senate inquiry on indefinite custody estimating that 95% of Aboriginal people charged with offences appearing before court have an intellectual or cognitive disability or mental illness.  "Some will of course have multiple impairments", said Ms Harvey.  "Add to that the fact that many of these people will also have communication that is impaired in some way which makes it difficult for them to understand and participate in court proceedings.  We saw this in the Gene Gibson case."

Click here for Taryn Harvey's media release

Click on this picture for the ALRC discussion paper:



16 July 2017

Australians for Disability Justice is a national advocacy campaign that seeks to change legislation policy and practice as they relate to people with disabilities in the criminal justice system.  ADJ has a particular focus on Indigenous Australians with disabilities.


This Submission was provided in three parts and was originally written for the NDIS Joint Standing Committee’s Inquiry into Psycho-Social Impairment.  The ADJ Submission responds specifically to Terms of Reference (H) and (I) of that Inquiry.


DDWA's Chief Executive Officer, Taryn Harvey, was one of the contributors to this submission.


  1. The first Submission outlines the general issues for people with disabilities in the criminal justice system and why the NDIS should be the primary agency responding to their needs.  Click here to read
  2. The second Submission was written following the Public Hearings in Melbourne for this Inquiry on April 28th and is the recommendations to the Committee.  Click here to read. 
  3. The third Submission is a document developed for the ADJ meeting with Mr Kevin Andrews where advice on the possibility of a NDIA Criminal Justice Unit was provided.  Click here to read.


Click on the images below to read:





30 September 2016:

Thank you to the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University for hosting Taryn Harvey and Alison Xamon at their regular "Curtin Corner". Taryn and Alison presented this afternoon on At the Governor's Pleasure - Indefinite Custody, Natural Justice & Due Process. 


Most citizens would see natural justice and procedural fairness as fundamental principles that we expect our Parliaments to uphold. So how is it that for 20 years Western Australia has maintained a law allowing for the indefinite custody of vulnerable people without judicial oversight or review?

Marlon Noble was released from prison in 2012 after 10 years imprisonment for a crime he was never convicted of, yet it was ultimately media scrutiny and public outrage that resulted in his release.  Mr Noble was detained under WA’s Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 which allows for the indefinite detention of people found unfit to stand trial due to disability or mental illness.

The Act includes no provisions for judicial oversight or review.  The law was introduced in 1996 to balance community safety with the protection of the mentally impaired accused. But the Act is internationally recognized as one of the most regressive and unjust pieces of legislation regulating fitness to stand trial.

Despite two decades of advocacy and numerous reviews, no Government has reformed the law to address its most critical failings. The presentation examined the history of WA’s ‘mentally impaired accused’ as a case study of contemporary policy and legislative challenges in the criminal justice system. It aimed to humanise a ‘law and order’ debate which has largely ignored the human consequences of this Act.


29 September 2016:

Read Taryn Harvey's opinion piece written with Alison Xamon in The West Australian today: Justice for WA's mentally impaired is a matter of urgency


24 September 2016:

United Nations outraged over Marlon Noble case

The West Australian's Colleen Egan has written about how the UN has blasted the indefinite detention of intellectually impaired people in WA and called on the State Government to lift conditions imposed on Geraldton man Marlon Noble immediate. Mr Noble spent 10 years in jail without being convicted of a crime until his plight was highlighted by The West Australian newspaper four years ago, and he still lives under severe restrictions despite charges against him being dropped in 2010. Click below to read the full story:


August 2016:

MEDIA RELEASE - Legal safeguards insufficient to protect vulnerable prisoners

DDWA is liaising with others to call for an independent audit by the Inspector of Custodial Services of the use of restraints, seclusion and crisis care provisions to manage the behaviour of vulnerable prisoners across youth and adult detention in Western Australia.

Along with WAAMH and other stakeholder organisations we are seeking representation on the working group which is being developed to consider and report on the issues of mandatory custody orders and the duration of custory orders. The working group will be chaired by an eminent retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the Hon Peter Blaxell.  

Click to read media release


Click to read media release

April 2016:

MEDIA RELEASE - CLMIA Act review report a step forward but still falls short


WESTERN Australia’s peak body for mental health, the WA Association for Mental Health (WAAMH), along with Developmental Disability WA (DDWA), acknowledge that the long awaited review report of the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) (CLMIA) Act 1996 has been released by the State Government today, but we remain concerned that some of the most fundamental recommendations have not been addressed.

Click on image to read full media release

Click to open




















The Report recommends that a working group be established specificially to review the operation of indefinite custody orders under the Act. (Recommendation 16)

The Report also noted that the composition of the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board should include at least one community member with an understanding of forensive mental health or disability. (Recommendation 18)




February 2016: 

25 January 2016:

We continue to advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disability who are subject to different treatment in the law than people who do not have the same cognitive impairment.   


21 January 2016:

Perth Now: Review for Disabilty Justice Centre - Perth Now

6PR - Taryn Harvey: Disability Justice Centre Review Underway

The West Australian: Attempt to fix injustice has been flawed but noble


20 January 2016:

Disability Services Minister Helen Morton has announced a review of the individual plans, programs and services for residents of the Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre. 

Developmental Disability WA and Western Australian Association for Mental Health strongly support the Disability Justice Centre remaining where it is, saying that after almost 20 years it is critical that there is a place other than prison for people who are detained under the mental impaired accused law, and who are found unfit to plead. Review for Disability Justice Centre


Disability Justice Centre must stay where it is


Click on image to enlargeClick on image to enlarge

17 December 2015

Mentally impaired deserve a chance at redemption - The West Australian Newspaper

Today in Taryn Harvey's opinion piece in The West Australian Newspaper she challenges the WA State Government to address the 12 month delay since the consultations closed on reform of the mental impaired accused laws.  She asked how the Parliament can allow a law to have stood for so long when it clearly breaches the ntion of natural justice. 

Click on image to enlarge


3 December 2015

Senate Inquiry into Indefinite Detention and Imprisonment of People with Cognitive Impairment

DDWA welcomes the announcement that WA Senator Rachel Siewert has secured Senate support for an Inquiry into the indefinite detention and imprisonment of people with cognitive impairment.

DDWA has been working with the Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) to advocate for changes to the Criminal Law Mentally Impaired Accused Act 1996 (the CLIMIA Act). 

The Inquiry's Terms of Reference include "the differing needs of individuals with various types of cognitive and psychiatric impairments such as foetal alcohol syndrome, intellectual disability or acquired brain injury and mental health disorders."

The Inquiry will look at existing Commonwealth, State and Territory legislative frameworks.

DDWA's CEO Taryn Harvey said she is pleased the Terms of Reference include the access to justice and the availability of assistance and advocacy support for defendants.

"This Inquiry will mean a light continues to be shone on the injustice of the current WA legislation. It will make it harder for the State Government to avoid reform."

Click here for the TERMS OF REFERENCE for the Inquiry. Bookmark this page for information about making submissions and possible Perth Committee hearings. 


25 November 2015: 

Restrictive practices in prisons

More detailed information about the Report on Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect Senate Community Affairs Committee is given on the webpage Looking at Abuse and Neglect. One of the issues raised in the report refers to Restrictive practices in prisons.

The Inquiry into Indefinite Detention and Imprisonment of People with Cognitive Impairment, announced by Senator Rachel Siewert in December 2015 at the end of the 2016 Parliamentary session, we hope will shine a light on some of these practices.

DDWA provided input to a submission by the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign to the Senate Inquiry into Abuse and Neglect drawing attention to the indefinite detention of Aboriginal people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, including the use of restrictive practices in prisons. In this submission we pointed out that the Prisons Act includes no safeguards and processes for the use of restrictive practices or seclusion. This contrasts with the State's new Mental Health Act and legislation governing the new disability justice centres. This is something DDWA intends to take up in 2016. 

The Report on Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect Senate Community Affairs Committee states "The Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign (ADJC) alleged that chemical, physical and mechanical restraints are used extensively on people with cognitive impairment in prisons in Western Australia and the Norther Territory. The ADJC estimated that approximately 150 people with cognitive impairment are detained in prisons on civil orders each year, of which approximately 30 are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and 30 are 'detained indefinitely'.

The ADJC noted that unlike the disability sector, where restrictive practices are regulated by legislation consistent with Australia's international human rights obligations:

"[t]here is no reference to these principles, safeguards or human rights obligations in the use of restraint and seclusion on people with cognitive impairments detailed under Corrective Services legilsation in either Western Australia or the Northern Territory."

The ADJC highlighted that the lack of regulation on restrictive practices in prisons means that people with a cognitive impairment detained in prison 'are at a disadvantage to those who would be subject to restrictive interventions in forensic disability setting in terms of process, safeguards, review mechanisms and access to advocacy and oversight.'

The ADJC provided case study examples that demonstrate the unregulated use of restrictive practices on people with cognitive impairment.


Read more -

1. Click on the image below which will take you to the Parliament House webpage.

2. Click on Chapter 4 - Disability-specific interventions

3. Go to page 100 of the report, Box 4.1: Restrictive practices in prisons:

Click to open and read


4 November 2015

ABC online - West Australian courts look set to be given access to screening for brain damage and developmental delays caused by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The test could change the outcome of cases, but disability advocates warn it could also put more people at risk of indefinite detention for the mentally impaired.

An estimated 500,000 Australians suffer from brain damage and developmental delays caused by mothers drinking during pregnancy.

Perth Children's Court Magistrate Catherine Crawford has said she believed many of the young people coming before her court suffered from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. (click here to read more...)


29 October 2015

The Australian - "The troubled prosecution of traditional desert Aboriginal man Gene Gibson has taken another twist, with a formidable disability advocacy group taking up his case in response to claims he pleaded guilty despite suffering brain damage as a result of fetal ­alcohol spectrum disorder." (click to read more...)


26 October 2015

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Screening Caution - ' mental impaired' laws a danger

DDWA CEO Taryn Harvey spoke with ABC Radio today cautioning that screening for FASD and other signs of impairment in the legal system would be useful, but unless ‘mental impaired’ laws change another generation of people face the risk of indefinite detention.

“You cannot talk about justice and screening without also talking about our ‘mental impaired’ law. This State’s law is a disincentive to identifying when people need support to understand the legal process because of impairment. It’s a legal gamble with people’s lives,” Ms Harvey said.


Click on image to enlarge

Word version of the media release attached: WORD


13 May 2015: 

INVITATION TO MEETING to secure reform of the CLMIA Act.

Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) and (DDWA) hosted a meeting to prioritise recommendations for advocacy to secure reform of the Criminal Law Mentally Impaired Accused Act 1996 (the CLMIA Act).

This meeting follows the joint submission to the Attorney General made in December 2014 by WAAMH, DDWA, Consumers of Mental Health WA, Richmond Fellowship of WA, Head of Council of Official Visitors, Carers WA, Mental Health Carers Arafmi, People with Disabilities WA, Mental Health Matters 2 and individuals.

This submission is available here: SUBMISSION

The meeting  discussed the most critical reforms and those most likely to be successful at this time. The purpose of the meeting was to seek consumer, family and sector support for the 3-4 most important and achievable reforms to enable our advocacy going forward.

WAAMH and DDWA  also provided information on our intended advocacy strategies and invited attendees to join with us in this work. 



6 May 2015:

'Understanding FASD - a guide for justice professionals'

As part of the 'Understanding FASD - a guide for justice professionals' project a series of 5 short videos and an overview video have been produced. DDWA's Taryn Harvey attended the launch of the videos on 29 April 2015 by the Hon. Chief Justice of Western Australia Wayne Martin AC.


Professor Carol Bower Telethon Kids Institute, Associate Professor Raewyn Mutch Telethon Kids Institute, The Hon. Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC, Heather Jones Telethon Kids Institute, Professor Jonathan Carapetis Telethon Kids InstituteThe videos are titled:          

  • FASD and the Justice System
  • Awareness of FASD
  • Representing clients in the justice system
  • FASD and the Judiciary
  • Protection and Care proceedings

 Watch the videos, and read more about Alcohol, Pregnancy and FASD on this page of the Telethon Kids Institute Website here.

 (more information on FASD here)


March 2015:


The Economic Regulation Authority is conducting an inquiry into options to improve the efficiency and performance of Western Australian prisons.

The ERA published an Issues Paper in November 2014 to assist the public in understanding the scope and objectives of the inquiry.

Developmental Disability WA has been part of discussions on the prisons inquiry with the ERA as part of our work with the Mental Impaired Accused Justice Coalition.

On 18 March 2015 the ERA published a Discussion Paper. The Discussion Paper focuses specifically on the ERA's proposed approach to addressing problems with the governance arrangements of the Western Australian prison system. 

The ERA is holding a roundtable forum seeking feedback on this discussion paper, and DDWA will be part of that forum. 

Members of the public can provide feedback on the discussion paper, which provides an additional, early opportunity for interested parties to engage with the Inquiry and inform the development of the ERA's Draft Report. Specifically, they are seeking feedback on whether: 

  • the ERA has properly identified the key issues affecting the performance of the prison system and the causes of those issues
  • the preliminary proposed approach outlined in the Discussion Paper for addressing the core issues with the prison system is likely to be effective and
  • the ERA has appropriately identified the challenges and complexities in implementing the proposed approach.

Submissions are invited until 24 April 2015. 

More information is available here: ERA INQUIRY INTO THE WA PRISON SYSTEM


February 2015:

A short YouTube video has been produced of some of the proceedings at the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign/First Peoples Disability Network National Summit: A Line in the Sand, held in Melbourne in November 2015.


Click on image to watch the YouTube 

January 2015

The Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) is conducting an inquiry, at the request of the WA Treasurer, into options to iprove the efficiency and performance of Western Australian prisons.

The ERA will provide advice on the design of appropriate performance standards, incentives and performance monitoring processes for the prison system. 

The final report for the Inquiry is due to be delivered to the Treasurer by 8 October 2015, after which he will ahve 28 days to table the report in Parliament.

Read the ERA's issues paper here...


January 2015

Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH), a partner of the Mental Impaired Accused Justic Coalition (MIAJC) has published a briefing paper with information on, and a suggested response to, proposed changes that would remove access to Disability Support Pension (DSP) payments for people detained in prisons and psychiatric instituios under mental impairment legislation.

Read WAAMH's Policy Brief here.....


3 December 2014:

Developmental Disability WA and MIAJC partner Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) have worked on a submission to the Review of the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996. (CLIMIA).

The CLIMIA Act relates to criminal proceedings involving people charged with offences who are found by a Court to be either mentally unfit to stand trial, or not guilty by reason of unsound mind.

We contributed to a submission on the review - read a copy here: SUBMISSION  

This submission was collectively developed and endorsed by Western Australian Association for Mental Health; Developmental Disability WA; Consumers of Mental Health WA (Inc); Carers WA; Mental Health Carers Arafmi (WA) Inc; People with Disabilities WA Inc.; Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign; Richmond Fellowship of Western Australia; Alan Robinson, Advocate for People with Intellectual Disability in the Justice System; Bridget and Antonia Silvestri; Deborah Colvin, Head of the Council of Official Visitors; Mental Health Matters 2; and Seamus Murphy, Mental Health Advocate.


21 November 2014:

Line in the Sand Conference, Melbourne

As part of our work with the Mental Impaired Accused Justice Coalition in systemic advocacy for people with cognitive impairments who are imprisoned in Western Australia and around the nation, Developmental Disability WA attended the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign/First Peoples Disability Network National Summit: A Line in the Sand.

The conference developed an action statement which seeks actions addressing justice under the following areas:

1. Individualised support in community settings

2. Prevention and early intervention

3. Integrated and coordinated services

4. Uniform law reform

5. Leadership and education

You can read the Action Statement in detail here


25 September 2014:

The Attorney General Michael Mischin has announced a discussion paper on the operation of the Criminal Law (Mental Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (CLIMIA) for public comment. This was an election commitment by the State Government (the election was held last year in March 2013) , aimed at reforming the way the justice system deals with accused people who are mentally impaired. 

Issues under consideration include the options for courst in dealing with people mentally impaired accused; whether greater consideration should be given to victims of crime; and whether the criteria for determining if a person was mentally unfit to stand trial should be amended. 

The discussion paper on the CLIMIA Act and information about the review can be found here: CLIMIA.

Read more here...


17 September 2014:

MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 16th September 2014

Mental impaired man jailed as teen ten years ago without conviction–Calls for Attorney-General to Intervene

Disability advocates have made an urgent call to the WA Attorney-General to release a young Aboriginal man facing indefinite imprisonment and called for clearer safeguards for mental impaired accused prisoners to prevent a repeat of the injustice experienced by Mr Marlon Noble.

The young man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons and is known as “Jason”, has been imprisoned for ten years under Western Australia’s mental impaired accused legislation for a juvenile offence he committed in his early teens. He was the subject of a profile piece on SBS TV's Living Black program on 15th September.


Read the media release here.....

Read the ABC News report here.....


16 September 2014:

Developmental Disability WA CEO Taryn Harvey was interviewed about the case of the young man held in a WA prison indefinitely on ABC TV News.


10 June 2014:

Today the Mental Impaired Accused Justice Coalition briefed a number of MP's at Parliament House on issues relating to the Disability Justice Centre and why it is important to locate the centre in community settings. We remain concerned that a community campaign against the selected site continues to refer to the centre as a "residential prison".

Today the report by the Inspector of Custodial Services on Mental Impaired Accused was tabled in the State Parliament. Read a copy of the report here. 


7 May 2014:

This afternoon, the WA Parliament will hopefully commence debate on the legislation for the disability justice centres for people who are found to be mental impaired accused. This legislation will finally establish declared places for mental impaired accused and end the injustice of their indefinite imprisonment despite not being convicted of offences. It has taken governments 17 years to act in creating a declared place since legislative reform enabled them. 

Developmental Disability WA calls on parliamentarians scrutinising the legislation to:

- ensure the rights of the mental impaired accused and their access to advocacy are safeguarded;

- give attention to the integrity of the service model to ensure it supports based practice in effectively supporting this group; and

- that they give reasonable consideration to the systemic safeguards put in place by the Mental Impaired Accused Review Board and the legislation in relation to who resides in the Centres and how their care will be managed.


The location of these services in community settings and not isolated is an important factor to their success. Sadly, campaigns against the centres have characterised them as 'residential prisons'. This is unfortunate, because it sends incorrect messages to the community about what the centres are, why they are needed, and how they will work. They are not prisons, nor are they correctional facilities.

To call these centres 'residential prisons' sends a message that our community believes these people should be in prison, but that because they cannot we are creating prisons by another name. This is not the case.


Mental Impaired Accused Justice Coalition founded


21 March 2014:

Developmental Disability WA is pleased be a founding partner of the Mental Impaired Accused Justice Coalition.

In partnership with People with Disability WA (PWdWA), Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) we are part of a cross-stakeholder partnership advocating on behalf of people who are found to be mental impaired accused.

The immediate priorities for the Coalition are:

  • Continuing to advocate in support of the State government’s disability justice centres;
  • An audit of prisoners with intellectual or cognitive disability to identify those prisoners who might be appropriately assessed as mental impaired accused and directly connecting them with independent advocates;
  • An audit of prisoners with intellectual or cognitive disability to identify those prisoners who might be appropriately assessed as mental impaired accused and connecting them directly with independent advocates;
  • Advocating for ‘declared places’ for people found mental impaired accused due to severe mental illness;
  • Ensuring that there is sufficient capacity within the disability and mental health sectors to support people who are found mental impaired accused; and

The Coalition acknowledges the Disability Services Commission and the State Government for their pursuit of and commitment to disability justice centres, and to implementing the centres consistent with best practice in the treatment and support of people with intellectual or cognitive disability in the justice system. 

Recent cases which have attracted public and media attention have indicated some of the broader and longstanding systemic concerns regarding the status of mental impaired accused.

The Coalition seeks to work with the WA State Government and other stakeholders toward a timely resolution of these and other cases.


17 March 2014:

The injustice of people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities being indefinitely imprisoned under the Mental Impaired Accused Act has been highlighted again recently through the story of Roseanne Fulton.  Developmental Disability WA is proud to be supporting Ms Fulton’s guardian and the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign in their campaign for Ms Fulton to return to Alice Springs.

The treatment of people who are found to be mental impaired accused is a significant issue both for our justice system and our disability services sector.  

That’s why Developmental Disability WA is working with other peak groups in the disability and mental health sectors to form a mental impaired accused justice coalition to support systemic advocacy.  Immediate priorities for the coalition are to continue to advocate for the implementation of disability justice centres and the review of the Criminal Law Mental Impaired Accused Act.

The coalition will also provide a platform for peak and advocacy groups to jointly work towards better justice outcomes for people with disabilities using the Disability Discrimination Commissioner’s comprehensive review of disability justice as a platform. 

Equal Before the Law: Towards Disability Justice Strategies provides an excellent framework for ongoing advocacy in this area. Read the report here: Australian Human Rights Commission


14 February 2014:

This morning Developmental Disability WA CEO Taryn Harvey presented to the Swan Rotary Club about the disability justice centres.  A copy of her presentation is here: Disability Justice Centres


Read the article written by Taryn Harvey, and Andrew Jefferson of PwDWA which was published in The West Australian October 2013

Click to enlarge