Human rights agenda
Kelly Vincent is the second youngest person elected in an Australian parliament. She is 23 years old and has cerebral palsy. She is passionate about human rights. Kelly wants to help improve the lives of people with disabilities. She wants changes to laws in South Australia to give people with disabilities more support in the law courts. Kelly believes Victoria leads the way in raising standards for people with disabilities. She is pushing for the federal government to bring in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Posted by: Susan Frankel, on 08/03/12
Parliamentarian Kelly Vincent
Australia's second youngest member of parliament Kelly Vincent is 23 years of age. She was elected to South Australia's Legislative Council in 2010 as a candidate for the Dignity for Disability party. She has cerebral palsy but it is no barrier to her ambition.
One of her major goals is to reform the justice system in South Australia. She wants to see changes to the law that allow more flexibility in the court system for people with disabilities.
There needs to be a greater focus on human rights, Kelly says.
Accessing facilitators who are trained people, not just interpreters with language, is a right. We need people trained to interpret the gestures, for example, of those who can't speak but can express themselves through other modes. As it is right now, people's rights in South Australia are being forgotten.
Last year Kelly called on the South Australia police to set up a special branch of police officers. She said they should be specially trained in dealing with victims of crime who have a profound intellectual disability and do not communicate in a traditional way. Her call came after child sex charges against a man were thrown out of court, allegedly because the presumed victims had communication disabilities and could not give evidence.
Kelly is therefore calling for amendments to the South Australia Disability Act to work in a human rights framework. She believes there are shortfalls in the justice system in South Australia compared to Victoria, which has different modes of communication for people with disabilities.
The rights of the disabled are taken more seriously in Victoria than here. The more thorough systems used for dealing with non-verbal communication is a good example of that.
Kelly is aware of Victoria's history of vibrant struggle for the rights of people with disabilities that goes back decades. Victoria has many women to thank for the number of existing organisations that have a huge impact on people's quality of life and improvements.
On a broader scale, Kelly is campaigning for the National Disability Insurance Scheme she says has been promised by the federal government.
We are yet to see where the rest of the $6.3 billion is going to come from. If the states cut ministerial chauffeurs that would help. We need more equitable funding and an expectation of higher standards, she says.
When asked if she has already faced her hardest achievement yet, she gives a deft reply.
No, not yet. It's possibly to come. Politics is hard. One of the big challenges will be to get changes within the judicial system in South Australia.
I look at the opportunities that my disabilities have presented me not just my job but my rights. I want people who are different to have their rights recognised. Perhaps if I didn't have a disability I would not have fought so hard.
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