A WODONGA disability services leader says police are not taking seriously those with a disability when they are affected by crime.
Disability Advocacy and Information Service’s Martin Butcher is keen for disabled people to share their experiences with police, courts or the prison system at a forum on Wednesday.
“Those with a disability are hesitant to report a crime or even being a victim of crime,” he said.
“Police do not see them as a believable witness; they don’t take the time to listen and support them.”
Mr Butcher said the agency came across the problem every month.
“We would have two incidents a month in Albury and Wodonga,” he said.
“People ring our agency and say they have been to the police to report something and they get told to go away.
“It’s not until we send a support worker with them that they actually take the time to listen.
“What we would like to see is disabled people treated fairly and police take more time to listen to them.”
Sgt Larry Goldsworthy, of Wodonga police, said staff approached any situation on its merit.
“Depending on what the disability is, information and clarity may be difficult to gain but that is the extent of it,” he said.
“We are working with the disability service in trying to identify areas in the service that we can offer or improve.”
Guest speakers at the law and justice forum will include Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes and president of the Australian Law Reform Commission Professor Rosalind Croucher.
Mr Butcher said the agency would like to hear from anyone with a disability, including mental illness, their family and supporters who have come in contact with the justice system.
“The telling of real-life true stories by people with disabilities can be a powerful way to bring about change on a local and national level,” he said.
“Senior officers from police and justice departments, as well as the two commissioners, will be coming to listen to the stories.”
The event will be held at the Hovell Tree Inn, from 1pm to 3pm.
To book a place, email email@example.com or phone 6056 2420.