National Network calls for lived expertise membership on new NDIS ‘justice expert’ team

On Friday, Minister Bill Shorten MP, announced a team of ‘justice experts’ will examine the management of prisoners exiting prisons who have been identified as current or potential participants on the NDIS.

As a national organisation made up of women and girls, currently or formerly incarcerated, the National Network urge the government to set aside a seat at that ‘expert’ table for a member of our Network. Real ‘justice experts’ are those with actual lived/living expertise. Many of our members have both knowledge from their professional experience, their academic work and from their time in the cage. Further, the women on our network are accountable to the women inside, responding to issues happening right now, ensuring that our knowledges of what is happening on the ground for women and girls is always contemporaneous and relevant.

Our Network has a specific interest in access to and reform of the NDIS for people in prison. We share expertise with staff of Sisters Inside who have been navigating this system for several years with the women they work with. We believe it would be incumbent on the Government to appoint a lived experience member from Sisters Inside also, given their staff have actual expertise with this system both in terms of living it inside as well as supporting women to access it during their time in prison.

Appointing people with lived expertise is critical if any change is to be meaningful. The ‘experts’ appointed so far, including a former police chief, and former supreme court judge, are not representative of us as criminalised women and girls. They will not have the invaluable connections inside that we do, therefore will not have the kinds of insights necessary for real meaningful change.

We urge Minister Shorten to consider appointing a National Network member and a staff member of Sisters Inside and would welcome discussing this with him while we are in Canberra this week.

Let’s make real change for people in prison.

For further comment, please contact Debbie Kilroy on 0419 762 474or Tabitha Lean 0499 780 226