Wednesday, 03 May 2017
Dr CARLING-JENKINS (Western Metropolitan) — My question is for the Minister for Corrections, Minister Tierney, and it is in relation to communication accessibility for prisoners with disability. The Corrections Victoria Disability Framework 2016–2019 focused on reducing barriers for offenders and prisoners with a disability to services, programs and facilities while serving their sentence. While the framework recognises the need for a targeted response for prisoners and offenders with poor communication skills associated with specific disabilities, it does not outline in detail which steps are to be taken. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that people with a disability are able to properly communicate and be communicated with in correctional facilities. Minister, will the government commit to seeing all correctional facilities communications are accessible for people with a disability through, for example, the publication of forms and instructions in plain English form, which is a common tool used to ensure communication accessibility?
Ms TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) — I thank Dr Carling-Jenkins for her question and her ongoing advocacy for those who are vulnerable and who have got disabilities. Particularly in an incarceration system I think it is particularly important that we make sure for those that are already experiencing difficulties as a result of having disabilities that their issues are addressed. I am more than happy to review the current situation and work out a way forward to improving what can be improved and I look forward to having discussions with her on that as we progress the matter.
Dr CARLING-JENKINS (Western Metropolitan) — I thank the minister. I do really appreciate that response and I look forward to having a more in-depth conversation with her about this. As I mentioned in my substantive question, a really great tool to ensure communication accessibility is the translation of documents into plain English, so I ask: will the government consider publishing reports such as the Corrections Victoria Disability Framework 2016-2019 and its annual report in plain English in order to include people with disability, who are currently being excluded from this conversation because of inaccessible communications?
Ms TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) — As part of my inquiries in determining what information is readily available, I will certainly take that into consideration. Can I say in terms of language and written form in straightforward language, that it is an absolute priority. I understand that in terms of people that have got disabilities but I also understand that in terms of previous work experience with those that come from other countries where English is not their first language. Indeed their own language is often denied to them in a written form. So I do understand the importance of communication, and again look forward to that conversation with the member.