The 2022 Public Advocate Award has been awarded to the Funds in Court Human Rights Advisory Committee.
Funds in Court is an Office of the Supreme Court of Victoria and is responsible for the administration of all funds paid into the Court in civil proceedings. The Funds in Court office also administers funds paid as compensation to persons with a legal disability.
The Funds in Court Human Rights Advisory Committee was initiated in 2016 by Miranda Bain, Director of Strategy Government and Community Relations of Funds in Court. The committee aims to improve the lives of Victorians with disability, by removing any barriers facing them in the justice system.
When determining the winner of the 2022 award, Dr Colleen Pearce, the Public Advocate acknowledged the incredible work being done to remove potential barriers facing people with disability.
"I was extremely pleased to learn that there is a dedicated Human Rights Advisory Committee that actively seeks and removes barriers that can face people with disability.”
“Through the work my office does, we have found that the majority of challenges experienced by people with disability are a result of disabling systems and environments, rather than being due to an inherent ‘lack’ in the individual
"One of the most important human rights is the right of all people to play an active role in decisions that affect them, and to receive the support they need to do so.”
This Human Rights Advisory Committee has implemented programs that provide direct support provided for people with disability. This includes working with the Department of Justice and Community Safety to introduce the Intermediates Program, which assists people with complex communications needs who are require an intermediary for a criminal matter. The Committee also promoted the use of Communication Facilitators in Civil Matters to make sure people with disability have their voice heard in the management of their affairs.
There has also been significant work done to prevent people with disability who are initially a victim of crime from becoming offenders themselves, as has been common for people with intellectual disability. The community wrap around approach implemented through the Human Rights Advisory Committee is showing that a reduction in the number of police contacts and divert these young victims of crime into a positive and productive alternative pathway.
As well as the main committee, the Human Rights Advisory Committee invites members with specific expertise to join working groups tasked with delivering key Committee initiatives. The Human Rights Advisory Committee was able to elevate the Lived Experience voice through the establishment of the Beneficiary Advisory Committee, to hear from those involved with Funds in Court.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the Funds in Court Human Rights Advisory Committee.
Find out more about Funds in Court on their website fundsincourt.vic.gov.au.