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People with intellectual disabilities fighting to be recognised as victims of crime

``A 21-year-old woman, with an intellectual disability placing her mental capacity on par with a seven-year-old, was allegedly raped in August 2019 by a man who climbed into her bedroom through a window. ....
Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service principal solicitor Naomi Anderson said there was a
need for specialised training at all touch points in the justice system including with police who may tell alleged victims to make a report to the NDIS Commission.
“The fact that the alleged perpetrator provides disability support does not make the incident an issue that should be dealt with by a complaints procedure,” she said. “Meanwhile, the crucial time for investigating passes as the individual goes back and forth between police and complaints, and no evidence is gathered.” Ms Anderson said the successful prosecution rate was “definitely” lower for victims with intellectual disabilities and while legislative changes had been made, there was still a long way to go. Disability advocate Sarah Forbes is aware of several cases where police didn’t prosecute because of the victim’s intellectual disability. “Police, disability support staff and services appear to have a tendency to question the credibility of people with intellectual disability,” said Ms Forbes, an advocacy manager with the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability.``

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Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service executive officer Deidre Griffiths said in many cases where a client with a disability was in the spotlight, it was not because of their disability but because they were not being properly supported by service providers.  “Many people with severe autism or an intellectual disability have behaviours that mean they need to be appropriately supported, redirected and supervised,” Ms Griffiths said.

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Villamanta solicitor Viv Avery said the government’s decision to back down was a “great turn-around”.  “It should take a lot of weight off the shoulders of our clients with disabilities,” he said.  “It gives people with disabilities and a degree of dignity and a degree of certainty for families who are supporting their children.”