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[They will use]

A virtual reality documentary sharing the experiences of people with intellectual disability in Australia's criminal justice systems


VALID, the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability presents “[They will use] My First Name”, a virtual reality documentary exploring the experiences of people with intellectual disability in Australia’s criminal justice systems. View the film below, or contact VALID for previews in a VR headset.


With the police. In court.  In prison.  People with intellectual disability, especially First Nations people, are overrepresented across all areas of Australia’s criminal justice systems, often resulting from trauma and lifelong disadvantage. 


A 2013 Victorian parliamentary inquiry reported that people with intellectual disability were “anywhere between 40 and 300 percent more likely to be jailed than people without intellectual disability”. Yet this is a problem that successive governments have so far been unable to solve.


[They Will Use] My First Name has been released by VALID to accompany a year long participatory research project by the advocacy organisation titled “Justice For All”. The project was established in response to the increasing need for support and advocacy VALID witnessed for people with intellectual disability involved in the criminal justice system.

Download and read the Justice For All report written by VALID here:

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People with intellectual disability are over represented in Australia's criminal justice systems.

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Download and read the Barriers to the NDIS for people with intellectual disability and/or complex support needs involved with the criminal justice systems: The current state of literature article written by Claire Spivakovsky (2021) here:

“When the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced rollout in metropolitan Melbourne, demand for VALID’s individual advocacy service increased. At the same time, the state government began rolling back direct service provision, including case management.” states VALID project coordinator Emily Piggott.

“The increase in requests for VALID’s advocacy was often from people who had previously not come to the attention of disability advocacy services. They were slipping through the system’s cracks. They did not have adequate disability support, or in some instances, any support at all.”


They stripped me and left me naked, and I got nothing to do but cover myself with my hands.

Guided by the powerful voices of people with lived experience in the system, [They Will Use] My First Name takes audiences on an immersive journey into the vulnerability, neglect and loss of dignity people with intellectual disability experience in Australia’s criminal justice systems.

“By using immersive video to take people into the courtroom, behind 20ft prison walls, and into a small, bare prison cell we wanted audiences to get a sense of the confusion, isolation, erosion of identity and trauma we heard in the stories of our courageous contributors” says producer on the film Peta Khan from digital studio Maitree.

[They Will Use] My First Name is a short virtual reality documentary sharing the experiences of people with intellectual disability in Australia's criminal justice systems. 

Please note: This film is intended to be viewed in a VR headset, for the best online viewing experience use headphones and watch in 4k.

“And most importantly we wanted the film to be a chance to hear from people with intellectual disability themselves - what do they want to change in the system? And what we heard from almost every contributor was the same: ‘we just want to be treated like humans, be listened to and be believed’.”

It’s about believing, you know. No one believed me if I told a story like that.

The film and report also shine a light on the cyclical nature of the system for people with intellectual disability who are more likely to experience homelessness, trauma, drug and alcohol abuse, and physical and mental health concerns.


Developed with the film interviewees and consultants, VALID’s Justice for All report also has a series of recommendations for the change that is needed in the system including putting an end to the use of solitary confinement and restrictive practice for people with intellectual disability and ultimately an end to detention for people unfit to plea.

Justen's story
00:00 / 02:26

Listen to Justen's story about growing up in a troubled home and sleeping rough on the streets as a person with intellectual disability, and how this inevitably led him to enter the justice system.

Ashley's story
00:00 / 03:02

Listen to Ashley's story about living as a person with intellectual disability, entering the criminal justice system for the first time and their experiences in court.

Jay's story
00:00 / 02:35

Listen to Jay's story about entering the criminal justice system for the first time when he was 14 and his experiences once inside such as the impact of his medications being restricted. 

FA's story
00:00 / 03:31

Listen to FA's experiences as a person with intellectual disability inside prison.

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“The purpose of this project is to listen to those with lived experience, to understand and fight for what they really need," states Piggott. "Like access to safeguards, complaint mechanisms, advocates, case managers and most of all, a trauma-informed justice system."


With its accompanying report, the film will be presented to people working in various levels of the justice system in Australia, including the Australian Government’s Royal Commission enquiry into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.


To view the film in virtual reality, please contact project coordinator Emily Piggott at VALID

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