Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (TILES)

TILES Director gives testimony at the Disability Royal Commission

On Wednesday 12 October, TILES Director Professor Nicole Asquith gave testimony at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Drawing on her 20 years of experience as a hate crime researcher, Professor Asquith provided testimony to a public hearing into violence against and abuse of people with disability in public places.

Professor Asquith stated that for disabled people experiences of violence are, ‘in the everyday. It’s in carparks, shopping centres, on the bus, on the train, going in and out of the workplace, getting lunch. All of those everyday things that most people take for granted.’

She stated, ‘We know that often disabled people do not know that what they experience is a crime, let alone targeted violence,’ and that an educative and supportive response can assist, but broader community education and prevention was also critical.

Screencap of a woman with short wavy gray hair, pale skin, and glasses with blue frames is a Zoom screen. She is wearing a grey open collared shirt and a black necklace with round beads. Her Zoom background has a University of Tasmania log on the top left. The background is an aerial shot of blue-green clear ocean with lots of rocks. At the bottom of the screen is a purple banner with an Australian coat of arms. The text on the banner states: Professor Nicole L Asquith. Disability Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. On the left sign of the screen is a Auslan interpreter signing. He is wearing a dark blue suit and is standing in front of a light blue background.

Professor Asquith speaking at the Disability Royal Commission

Possible responses to targeted violence discussed during testimony included third party systems for reporting, specialised police units, and police liaison officers. Professor Asquith stated that specialised police supports are limited without the knowledge and skills of frontline officers in identifying targeted violence.

However, Professor Asquith also stated that ‘Disabled people themselves often feel a punitive response is not appropriate, and they really want a restorative and preventative response … so often they also talk about, “I wish I could go to my local primary school and speak to the children about why disability is not something to be scared of or to hate.”’

The Human Library was one awareness tool discussed. The Human Library provides an interpersonal educative role, and could enable a preventative approach that is by and for disabled people, rather than on behalf of.

The transcript to Professor Asquith’s testimony is available at this link. Professor Asquith was also interviewed the following morning on ABC Radio about targeted violence against disabled people and her testimony.

The Disability Royal Commission was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability. It has received 5,665 submissions, held 1,411 private sessions and 28 public hearings so far.

Submissions to the Commission close on 31 December 2022.

Published on: 19 Oct 2022