Access to Justice

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2004 National Disabled Members' Conference
22 July 2004
Carried as Amended

Access to justice is the right of every person, it is a fundamental human right. It is an essential part of our democratic society. Equal access to an independent, impartial and speedy justice system is a fundamental pillar of democracy. Disabled people face barriers to justice as they often do not understand their rights or are unable to express/articulate them. Access to justice is a particular concern to disabled women because we are more likely to have lower spending power as a result of pay inequality, further, the combination of gender and disability discrimination means that we are doubly disadvantaged in achieving our rights though the justice system. In particular, we are concerned about three aspects of legal support available to disabled women:

a)those who are going through divorce proceedings but are not eligible for Legal Aid;

b)those women who are fleeing domestic violence and cannot obtain accessible refuge services for themselves or for their disabled children; and

c)the rapid growth of no win, no fee legal service providers who continue to take no action to ensure their services are compliant with Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act but enjoy fat profit margins on the back of disabled people’s new rights.

In order to challenge these barriers we call upon the National Disabled Members’ Committee to:

1) work with the National Executive Council to set up a helpline to provide support and assistance to disabled members who experience problems in the workplace. All cases dealt with by the helpline should be recorded, reported upon and be subjected to independent audits whilst ensuring that personally identifiable information remains confidential;

2) work with the National Executive Council and regions to establish initiatives to educate disabled members about their right of access to justice and to propmote measures to ensure speedy, equitable and universal access to justice for all.