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Disabled childChallenging restrictive and discriminatory practices

Cape Mental Health supports advocacy as an important means of improving the quality of life of service-users, ensuring their human rights and challenging restrictive and discriminatory practices. Advocacy operates at the levels of direct service delivery, liaison with other agencies and government, and policy making.

Various campaigns have addressed urgent issues such as: the funding crisis in the non-government sector, access to disability grants, employment equity, inclusive housing, access to public transport, opportunities for 16 to 18-year-olds with intellectual disability, the implementation of the Mental Health Care Act, and the Social Assistance Policy.

Disability grants
Our staff are equipped to direct referrals appropriately and help service-users access disability grants.

Right to Education
Years of lobbying the Western Cape Education Department to provide for children with mild or moderate intellectual disability in Khayelitsha, resulted in the opening of the K1 School for learners with special needs in 2002. 

Years of lobbying initiated by Cape Mental Health and taken further by the Western Cape Forum for Intellectual disability (WCFID) led, finally, to a landmark judgment on 11 November 2010 by the High Court of South Africa (Western Cape High  Court, Cape Town). The judgment (Case no: 18678/2007) ruled that the State, by failing to provide quality basic education for children with mental disabilities, had violated their rights to education, equality, dignity and protection from neglect and degradation. The Court ordered the State to take reasonable measures to ensure that “every child in the Western Cape who is severely and profoundly intellectually disabled has affordable access to a basic education of an adequate quality” and to report back to the Court on its progress towards implementing the order.

Right to Medication (RTM)
A Right to Medication Forum was formed to campaign about the lack of medical supplies for service-users with psychiatric disabilities. Service-users participated in media interviews to highlight their plight.

Victim Empowerment
Cases of sexual abuse of women and children with intellectual disability were often not prosecuted prior to 1991. Our SAVE programme (Sexual Abuse Victim Empowerment) came about at the request of the Justice Department and the South African Police Services who wanted to ensure that justice was pursued.

We are the only organisation in the Western Cape to provide this very specialised services, offering complainants (largely from disadvantaged communities) the same chance of seeing their abusers brought to justice as any other complainant would have.

Our staff educate victims and their families regarding their rights and help them cope with the after-effects of the abuse. We also train prosecutors and police to ensure that complainants with intellectual disability are dealt with compassionately.