A new disability legal centre aiming to curb high rates of imprisonment and child removal has been launched in Canberra.
The ACT-focussed Disability Rights Law Centre was opened on Thursday morning by disability rights group Advocacy for Inclusion.
The centre, one of the only of its kind in Australia, aims to vastly improve the outcomes for people with disabilities who find themselves caught up in the justice system, using volunteer solicitors, partnerships with legal firms, and legal researchers.
Advocacy for Inclusion general manager Christina Ryan said at least half of the Australian prisoner population have some type of disability.
There are also high rates of child removal from parents who have a disability.
Roughly 37 per cent of parents involved in the ACT child protection system have a disability.
Ms Ryan described the figures as "quite shocking".
She said many people with disabilities struggle to understand the justice system, and miscommunication and misunderstanding between lawyers and clients was common.
"The general principle that we are trying to achieve is that people with disabilities have a better justice experience," she said.
"That sounds a bit vague, but what we do know is that many people with disabilities go through justice processes, both civil and criminal, and they don't actually have a clue what's happened."
The centre opened its "virtual doors" on Wednesday, adding a major arm to the Advocacy for Inclusion organisation based in Civic.
Ms Ryan said there was no suggestion lawyers were currently doing anything wrong when representing those with a disability.
But she said misunderstanding had led to some cases where there had been poor and unacceptable outcomes.
"We've seen things like people with disabilities who have been part of a group activity but they end up taking the rap for the whole lot.
"Or people not understanding that when they've stolen something, that actually they can't have it back, it doesn't belong to them."
"There are things like this that seem like little things, but they actually stack up to people with disabilities generally having very poor outcomes."