Criminal record should not mean access to NDIS denied

9th Apr 2024

Access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) should not be used as a means of ongoing punishment of people who have a criminal record, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“We note media reports about former prisoners and offenders accessing NDIS.  Any implication or message that this is somehow wrong, is misplaced.  The right to health is a human right that applies to all Australians whether they have a criminal record or not,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“Once someone has served their sentence, they should not be further punished by denying them access to government support services, if they are eligible for them. Further, access to NDIS should be made available to people who are in prison, many of whom have serious mental and physical health disabilities.

“In fact, while people are imprisoned and serving their sentence they are entitled to the same level of health care as others in the community. This should not change when they are released from prison.

“The NDIS is designed to provide assistance to people who have severe and profound disabilities. By providing essential supports, the NDIS program can be a very important tool in assisting the rehabilitation of offenders.

“As lawyers we have seen cases where support through the NDIS is positive for the offender because it means addressing the cause of behaviours which have led to offending. In short, it is in the community’s interests for people with past convictions to access the NDIS.”

Tags: NDIS Criminal justice