1. What commitments will you make in response to urgent legal assistance needs?
The Arts Party supports increased funding, and expansion of personnel and facilities, to allow timely and effective legal assistance for those in need. There is far from enough insight into the necessity of legal assistance for those who are disempowered whether it be due to their gender, sexuality, race, age, education level and/or religion.
2. How will you support community legal centres to meet the increasing demand for family violence help?
The Arts Party believes that education and community development are pivotal to enhancing understanding of and support for those experiencing family violence. As the Women’s Legal Service Queensland website notes, “The law recognises the importance of personal safety and freedom, and that domestic and family violence is unacceptable behaviour that should not be tolerated in society. Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone, crosses all age groups and all social, financial and cultural demographics.” We enthusiastically support this view.
There are many intolerable outcomes from family violence that result in great damage to people in our community… legal support and counselling services are necessary to help repair this damage, as are finding better ways to educate about this issue and problem solve earlier rather than later.
80,000 people being turned away from community legal support facilities is not an acceptable statistic (see below) and there are too many people, particularly from marginalised groups, not receiving the help they need.
“Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services chief executive James Farrell said community legal centres nationwide were facing the same issues, with federal funding dropping by 30 per cent. ‘In Queensland, community legal centres helped 50,000 people last year, but 80,000 were turned away.’” http://communitylegalqld.org.au/sites/default/files/downloads/mentions/wlsq_courier.pdf
3. What commitments and responses are you making to the proposals of the Safety First in Family Law five-step plan?
The Arts Party absolutely supports this plan. We particularly applaud its proactive approach.
4. What plans and proposals do you have to prevent and respond to legal problems experienced by people with disability?
The Arts Party believes that empowerment of people with disabilities is an important part of the process in promoting the needs of all minority groups in society. We support increased funding and support including advocacy for those with a disability and the elderly, and we believe they offer far more than the general community realises. We also propose the following ways to support those with a disability:
- People with disability, their families and carers, should be able to actively participate in a fulfilling cultural life alongside every other Australian.
We also believe that:
- People with a disability make significant contributions to arts and culture in Australia;
- People with a disability should be able to live creative lives and their artistic aspirations and achievements should be a valued and visible part of our culture;
- Participation in arts and cultural activities by people with a disability helps to expand creative and social networks and to create more socially inclusive and equitable communities; and
- People with a disability have a valued role in the workplace.
NDIS is an excellent start in addressing the disparity in opportunity and access for disabled Australians, but we want to see continued progress, particularly in employment opportunity. Employment of people with disabilities in the Australian Public Service (APS) has steadily declined from 5% in 1999 to 2.9% in 2012, despite over 18% of Australians living with disability. We call on a federal APS commitment to return to a 5% threshold. We would also support creating a grants system designed to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities across the country.
There also needs to be greater commitment in Australia for making the arts accessible to people with a disability. Around the world governments have legislated for accessibility in the arts, including film, television, theatre, festivals and galleries. Australia has fallen behind in some areas. For example, the US, UK, New Zealand and much of Europe have audio described television for their blind and vision impaired communities. New Zealand has had audio described free-to-air television since 2011. Australia has had two audio description trials - one on free-to-air in 2012 and another running for 15 months from April 2012 on iView. Of all the other channels in Australia, free-to-air, pay and internet-based, only Netflix provides any audio description at all.
All TV channels in Australia should be obliged to provide audio description and captioning of their programming on either or both of their free-to-air or internet platforms. Theatres, festivals and galleries should be required to provided captioned and audio described options of their programming. Informational or educational internet videos should be audio described and captioned. Costs for audio description at least can be offset by selling audio description files online, eg, iTunes. As many shows and movies have been audio described for DVD and film release, there is a considerable back catalogue available for most stations. Like captioning, audio description is not only useful for people with a vision impairment but also the wider community.
5. What is your response to the Change the Record blueprint and proposals, and what other policies to you have for addressing these issues?
The Arts Party support the Change the Record blueprint and proposals. As noted when I signed the Change the Record Pledge: “I want to be part of an Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and families are safer and stronger. I want to change the record.”
We are currently developing policies with a number of Indigenous leaders to refine policies specifically to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples. These will be available within the next week.
We also have a number of other policies to help improve our community here: http://www.artsparty.org/policy