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Thick Forest

About the Program

Truth Justice Repair is a program of research led by socio-legal scholar
Associate Professor Linda Steele.


The program is driven by the question:
How do we reckon with and repair injustices against disabled people and older people?

Truth Justice Repair focuses on two categories of overlapping injustices:
Injustices of institutionalisation
Disability-specific and older age-specific injustices

Injustices of institutionalisation

Institutionalisation is a dominant feature in the historical and present-day cultural representations, political experiences and everyday lives of disabled people and older people.


Many disability institutions have now closed without any official recognition and redress to those who were institutionalised.


Many of the injustices of disability institutionalisation (e.g., physical and sexual assault, restrictive practices, sterilisation, labour exploitation, segregation) continue to be perpetrated against disabled people in community settings.


In contrast, governments are yet to commit to deinstitutionalisation of aged care.


Institutions such as nursing homes and residential aged care facilities continue to operate and are largely socially and politically accepted.

In institutions older people (including older disabled people who have previously been in disability institutions) are subjected to similar injustices as occurred in disability institutions. These injustices are rarely recognised, let alone redressed.

Disability-specific & older age-specific injustices

Disabled people and older people are subjected to forms of violence, incarceration, segregation and discrimination that are not perpetrated on the wider community.

Examples of these forms of violence, incarceration, segregation and discrimination in relation to disabled people include: restrictive practices, sterilisation, paid employment below the minimum wage in segregated settings, and segregation in school, accommodation, transport and employment settings.


Examples of these forms of violence, incarceration, segregation and discrimination in relation to older people include: restrictive practices, denial of disability support available to younger disabled people, and segregation in aged care settings. 

These experiences are rarely recognised as harmful, wrong and unjust. They are instead viewed as medically or socially beneficial and in the best interests of people with disability and older people.

Often these injustices are clinically and socially authorised and lawful on the basis of disability or older age.

Truth Justice Repair explores:

  • The meaning of ‘truth’ and ‘repair’ in the context of injustices experienced by disabled people and older people.

  • The principles and ideal practices that should guide development of safe, inclusive and accessible truth-telling and reparations processes for disabled people and older people, their families and communities.

  • The utility and limits of law in responding to injustices experienced by disabled people and older people, particularly given the complicity of legal and justice systems in many of these injustices.

  • Non-judicial responses to injustices experienced by disabled people and older people, such as state-led redress schemes, national apologies and truth commissions.

  • Community-led practices such as sites of conscience, community education, and reparative school and university pedagogies.

  • The importance of truth and repair for realising disabled people’s and older people’s human rights.

  • Lessons and insights that can be drawn from truth-telling and reparations in the contexts of institutional harms against other marginalised communities.


Truth Justice Repair involves collaborations with scholars and disability civil society organisations on aspects of the project.


Current and recent collaborators include:

Council for Intellectual Disability

People with Disability Australia

Dementia Alliance International

Phillippa Carnemolla

Kate Swaffer

Justine Lloyd

Elisabeth Punzi

Nicole Matthews

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