16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 March 2023

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

From Gaol to Geneva; How Changing My Life is Helping Change the System

In 2019 Justen was selected as a member of Australia’s Civil Society Delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As a member of this team Justen reported on how Australia is doing at protecting the rights of people with disability in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Issues Justen raised included; indefinite detention, fitness to plead, the importance of reasonable accommodations and support for people with disability in the criminal justice system and the role of peers in restoration.
Justen will explain his role in the delegation, the reporting process and the committee’s recommendations (Concluding Observations) to the Australian Government. He will share ways the recommendations can be used as an advocacy tool for change by disability advocates, people in the criminal justice system and mainstream services supporting people to reintegrate into community.
He will highlight current opportunities for change through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the development of a new National Disability Strategy.
Justen’s experience provides an example of how one person’s lived experience can influence policy and practice, ultimately changing systems, seasons and lives.


Justen Thomas
Council for Intellectual Disability

Justen is a trained peer-to-peer facilitator, advocate, and motivational speaker. He believes in raising the bar to achieve his goals and to inspire future generations to come. He has used his personal experiences of living with intellectual disability and coming in contact with the criminal justice system to inspire others to turn the negatives into positives and to make smart choices to stay on the right track.

Ben Garcia-Lee
Inclusive Research Development Officer
, Disability Innovation Institute at UNSW

Ben is a Scientia PhD scholar in the School of Education at UNSW. He is also an Inclusive Research Development Officer at the Disability Innovation Institute at UNSW. He is using an inclusive research approach in his PhD about what belonging means to people with intellectual disabilities experiencing multiple forms of marginalisation. He has been an advocate and ally for and with people with intellectual disabilities and complex support needs for close to a decade.