Newsletter Issue 14, May 2022

In this edition, we introduce you to our new National Coordinator, invite you to our Private sessions 101 webinar with People with Disability Australia and Blue Knot Foundation, and much more.

A message from our National Coordinator

I am super excited to be a part of this service supporting people engaging with the Disability Royal Commission. As an Aboriginal woman with family and friends with disability, I am acutely aware of the struggle for equal access to services and a good quality of life.

I joined Your Story Disability Legal Support as the Community Engagement Cultural Officer and Advisor based at the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia in April 2021, two years into the Royal Commission. I was then lucky to be offered the National Coordinator role in March this year.

As with other issues, unless you are amid it all, you will never understand the need out there. This role has been an eye opener for me. We whinge and moan about our own lives and often we don't think of those living with disability who've been mistreated or experienced injustice in a society that too often fails to accommodate and prioritise their needs.

I have a son (pictured below) who has hearing and vision loss. Without the support he has been given, he would never have achieved the successes in his life. He played blind cricket and travelled Australia and the world to compete in international games against countries like England, India and New Zealand. He also competed in blind tennis and again played locally and internationally. He won the trophy and brought the gold home. My son is now attempting marathon running. It proves that with the right support anything can be achieved.

But we know from speaking with community and our clients that getting and maintaining access to disability supports such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be challenging. On 30 May, we invite you to join us for a webinar with an NDIS legal expert, who will cover topics such as access criteria and appeals. This free online event will provide you with the tools to navigate the NDIS, and give you information about where to get support.

Then in July, the Royal Commission will look at the operation of the NDIS for Indigenous people with disability in remote and very remote communities. This public hearing is scheduled to take place in Alice Springs, NT, from 11 to 15 July.

This Royal Commission is an opportunity to advocate for change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with disability. There is no word for disability in Aboriginal languages. Whilst some Aboriginal languages have words for specific impairments, the fact that there is no word for disability more broadly reflects that people with impairments are not separated from the rest of the community for their difference. Some Indigenous people may not have a general concept of disability, which can result in under-reporting and, potentially, under-utilisation of the available supports from government or service providers. This is where you come in.

Under this Disability Royal Commission, the goal to protect people with disability from mistreatment, and promote a more inclusive, just society is relevant to all cultures. Your Story Disability Legal Support is delivered in partnership with community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services. These services are available to support Indigenous people to share their stories in a culturally safe way.

Call us on 1800 77 1800 or refer clients to Your Story using the referral form on our website.

Ruth Miller
National Coordinator, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

Your Story news

Private sessions deadline fast approaching

The deadline to register for a private session with the Disability Royal Commission is fast approaching. A private session is a confidential meeting with a Commissioner from the Royal Commission and registration closes on 30 June.

We have a wide range of resources to support people to share their stories, including two factsheets about private sessions, which you can view and download for free on our website:

On 6 June, Your Story Disability Legal Support, People with Disability Australia and Blue Knot Foundation will host a webinar about private sessions for people with disability and their supporters. Disability Royal Commission countdown: Private sessions 101 will answer frequently asked questions about private sessions and let people know about the free supports available.

Reaching people experiencing or at risk of homelessness

Anyone can be affected by homelessness. However, people with disability may be more at risk of experiencing homelessness and face additional barriers to finding safe and secure housing.

In recognition of this, Your Story has been focused on connecting with homeless services as well as people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in Brisbane, Queensland, and Sydney, NSW.

Members of the Queensland team (pictured top right) recently attended Homeless Connect Brisbane, a one-day event run by Brisbane City Council where people can access support including housing referrals, medical support, legal advice, haircuts, food, toiletries and clothing.

In Sydney, we have partnered with Rev. Bill Crews Foundation to provide support to clients and staff interested in sharing their stories and ideas for change with the Disability Royal Commission.

If you're interested in collaborating with Your Story, please email Fiona McLean, Manager of Stakeholder Relations.

New webinar recordings available to watch

In late April and early May, we hosted two webinars as part of our monthly webinar series.

Wanted: Meaningful employment for Autistic people featured two proud Autistic women, Elise Muller and Tammy McGowan, who led a compelling conversation about autism and employment.

During Multiculturalism and disability, Dominic Golding, Farzana Choudhury and Zakia Patel discussed how disability is defined by different cultures and languages and shared their tips on supporting people with disability from multicultural backgrounds.

These webinars are now available to watch with subtitles on our YouTube channel.

Your Story in the community

Client Information Officer Tom Dennehy (left) helping to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission support services at the Brisbane Disability Connection Expo in April.

Your Story lawyer Steve Wettenhall (right) speaks with Beverley English about the free legal support he can offer at the Regional Disability Expo in Bundaberg last month.

Your Story lawyers Hiran Lecamwasam and Mikele Prestia at Adelaide's Closing the Gap Day, an annual event that brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and service providers.

The disability community turned out in droves for the Hunter Disability Expo earlier this month, an event described as "joyful" by Your Story staff who attended.

Your Story team members Silva Osaki and Peter Im (pictured far left and far right) joined Disability Advocacy NSW and Interrelate to raise awareness about the free supports available to people interested in sharing their stories with the Disability Royal Commission.

"It seemed like the whole community came out this year and it was a very joyful event," said Silva.

Upcoming events

26 May - ADCET webinar: Sharing stories and ideas for change with the Disability Royal Commission

Hosted by the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET), this webinar will explain how Your Story can support students, teachers and tertiary education workers to safely and confidently engage with the Disability Royal Commission. Visit ADCET's website for more information and to register.

26 May - Tell your story: Disability Royal Commission basics

Tonight, Your Story Disability Legal Support will present at a free online information session hosted by Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA). The event aims to demystify and simplify the process of sharing a story with the Disability Royal Commission, and provide parents and caregivers with tools and tips to discuss the Royal Commission with their child or young person with disability. Visit the Eventbrite page for more information and to register.

26 May - Free information session for people with disability and supporters in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria

People with disability and their supporters living in Bacchus Marsh can learn about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at a free information session (Bacchus Marsh) today.

Various dates - Meet Disability Royal Commission support services in Queensland at the Regional Disability Expos

Your Story Disability Legal Support and Lotus Support Services will be at the Regional Disability Expo in Rockhampton (27 May), Fraser Coast (12 August), Sunshine Coast (8 September) and Toowoomba (7 October). Visit our website to find out more about the expos.

28 May - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Rockhampton

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Rockhampton? You are invited to a free information session (Rockhampton) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

30 May - Webinar: Navigating the NDIS

Hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support and Legal Aid NSW's NDIS team, this webinar is designed to help people understand how to navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

3 June - Celebrate young carers and meet the Your Story team at the Victoria Young Carers Festival

Your Story Disability Legal Support will be raising awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at this annual event for young carers, family and friends.

6 June - Disability Royal Commission countdown: Private sessions 101

On 6 June, join Your Story Disability Legal Support, People with Disability Australia and Blue Knot Foundation to find out everything you need to know about private sessions and how to get free support to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission.

30 June-1 July - Your Story to deliver Disability Royal Commission information session at the 11th National Deafblind Conference

Your Story Disability Legal Support, alongside Midlas, Deaf Australia and Deafblind Australia, will raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at the 11th National Deafblind Conference. Hosted by SensesWA, the event aims to support connection and reconnecting people with deafblindness and those who support them across Australia.

Disability Royal Commission news

Major disability service provider under scrutiny

Last week, the Disability Royal Commission examined in a public hearing the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Foundation for Disability - also known as Afford - to safeguard participants in their day programs from mistreatment.

During the five-day hearing, which focused on a day program run in Sydney, Commissioners heard from former staff and parents of participants about their experiences between 2018 and 2021. 

Afford executives were also asked to explain the measures taken to prevent and respond to abuse at day programs. Read a summary of public hearing 23. 

Changing attitudes and behaviour towards people with disability

A research report commissioned by the Disability Royal Commission has found leadership by people with disability must be visible to change community attitudes and behaviour towards people with disability.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales and Flinders University looked at existing research and canvassed the views of more than 60 people from business, government, community and advocacy organisations around Australia for the study.

They found that the key to changing attitudes, behaviours and outcomes was interventions based on information and education, such as promoting leadership by and the contributions of people with disability.

Next public hearing to focus on education

The experiences of children and young people with disability across different school settings will be the focus of the Disability Royal Commission's next public hearing in June.

From 6 to 10 June, the Royal Commission will hear from young people and their families about how and why decisions are made about different education options; the key transition points and pathways across their education; and the provision of support in different education settings.

Representatives from education authorities will also give evidence about the education options and special education settings for children and young people with disability in Western Australia and South Australia.

Your Story's ACT team will have a stall at public hearing 24, which will be held in Canberra and open to the public, as well as livestreamed to the Royal Commission's website.


Do you want to keep up to date with Your Story news?

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! We’ll share the latest insights and updates from our teams across the country, as well as upcoming events and news from the Disability Royal Commission.

Sign up