Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 17, September 2022

In this issue ...

A message from Sifa, our senior lawyer

“Thank you for your support… it gave me strength and a better understanding of the process.”

Sophie (not her real name) is the parent of a child with disability and a Your Story Disability Legal Support client. Our lawyer first met with Sophie to give her free legal advice and discuss her options for sharing her story with the Disability Royal Commission.

The lawyer then supported Sophie in a private session, where she was able to get special legal protections while telling her story to a Commissioner in a confidential meeting.

Sophie is one of thousands of people the Your Story team has supported since the service was launched in September 2019.

Over the past three years, our lawyers have provided over 10,000 legal services to people with disability, as well as their family members, friends, carers, advocates and supporters. This includes legal advice, support preparing submissions, with private sessions and at public hearings, and referrals for counselling, advocacy and other legal support.

Our Infoline team has fielded over 8000 phone, website and email enquiries, and provided more than 4300 information and referral services.

When possible, we’ve travelled extensively – from Bunbury (WA) to Barcaldine (Qld), Malmsbury (Vic) to Manyallaluk (NT), Port Macquarie (NSW) to Port Augusta (SA), Gawanggal (ACT) to Geeveston (Tas), and everywhere in between – to raise awareness about our service and deliver face-to-face legal advice.

You can read more highlights from our first three years on our website.

As we mark our third birthday, we recognise the strength of people such as Sophie, who share their stories and ideas for change in the hope of creating a more inclusive, just society. We also acknowledge the commitment of Your Story team members to ensure our clients feel safe and supported throughout the process.

We also want to acknowledge and thank our partners and supporters, including you. With three months to go until submissions close, your continued support is more important than ever, to ensure that everyone who wants to share their story has the chance to do so.

Help us spread the word about the free supports available – please share our message on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

With gratitude,
Sifa Mtango, senior lawyer

Your Story Advisory Group member admitted as a lawyer

Congratulations to Your Story’s Queensland representative Brianna Bell on being admitted as a lawyer.

Brianna is a wheelchair user and assistance dog handler living in Brisbane. She has been a part of our Advisory Group since its inception in April 2020, providing invaluable advice on supporting young people with disability.

Brianna holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland and was this month admitted as a lawyer. While studying, she worked in a range of roles with UN Youth Australia, including as CEO, from 2011 to 2016, before becoming the UQ Union Disability Officer in 2017.

Brianna is currently employed by Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion. With her strong sense of justice and commitment to making a difference, we know she’s going to be a fantastic lawyer.

Who decides? Guardianship and administration in Queensland

In Queensland, an adult who is considered to lack decision-making capacity may have someone else formally appointed to manage their personal and financial matters. This is called guardianship and administration, and there are similar laws in each state and territory that aim to protect the right of decision-making autonomy for adults with impaired capacity.

On Monday 26 September, Your Story and Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion (QAI) hosted a webinar about guardianship and administration in Queensland. Lead presenter and QAI Principal Solicitor, Dayne Kingsford, provided an overview of the Queensland system, with Your Story lawyer Steve Wettenhall talking about the supports available to share guardianship stories with the Disability Royal Commission.

It comes ahead of a public hearing on guardianship, substituted and supported decision-making, which will take place in Homebush, Sydney, NSW, from 21 to 25 November. If you missed the webinar, you can watch the Facebook livestream. A recording with subtitles will also soon be available on our YouTube channel.

One years since confidentiality amendments became law

It's been one year since the law changed to make it safer for you to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission.

The confidentiality amendments improve legal protections for people giving sensitive information to the Royal Commission, with information and documents marked ‘restricted’ kept confidential for 99 years.

Our factsheet What do the Disability Royal Commission confidentiality amendments mean for me? explains more.

If you want to keep your story private, we can discuss your options with you and give you free legal advice and support. Call us on 1800 77 1800 (free call) or visit our website for other ways to get in touch.

Your Story in the community

Your Story lawyers Georgina Davey (far left) and Peter Im (far right) with representatives from Interrelate, the Intellectual Disability Rights Service, and the Rev. Bill Crews Foundation at an afternoon tea for people with disability and supporters in Sydney’s Inner West on 14 September

A starstruck Rania Saab and Jaclyn Hall with a colourful character at the Regional Disability Expo (RDE) Sunshine Coast in Caloundra earlier this month. You can meet the Your Story team at the final RDE of the year, in Toowoomba on 7 October.

Your Story lawyers Jack Anderson and Peter Im at the Living on the Spectrum Family Gala Day, an all-inclusive event for Autistic people and their families and friends held at Sydney Olympic Park on 10 September.

Disability Matters Shepparton and Bendigo

Your Story’s lawyer in Victoria, Michelle Bowler (far right), recently travelled to Bendigo and Shepparton to deliver information sessions with our local partners, Relationships Australia Victoria, Drummond Street Services, Rights Information and Advocacy Centre, and Leadership Plus.

“It was great to deliver information to people in Shepparton and Bendigo,” said Michelle. “The sessions were well attended, which shows that people in regional Victoria are interested in sharing their experiences and accessing the supports available.”

Michelle is looking forward to travelling to Mildura and Horsham next month to deliver more information sessions and attend local events. You can find more details in the events section of the newsletter.

Snapshots from WA’s Great Southern and Wheatbelt region

Your Story’s WA team has been on the road with People With disabilities WA (PWdWA) to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available in the Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions.

PWdWA Disability Royal Commission Advocate Oliver Offer and Your Story lawyer Demi Thackrah (pictured above) hosted storytelling workshops in Narrogin, Wagin, Katanning, Denmark and Kojonup from 29 August to 2 September. They were joined by a team from the Royal Commission in some locations.

“We also provided information and materials to many relevant organisations throughout the region, including disability service providers, government agencies, and Aboriginal health centres,” said Demi.

Read more about the trip in the Great Southern Herald. Demi will soon be heading to Esperance and Albany in southern WA. Keep an eye on our website for more details.

Snapshots from WA’s Great Southern and Wheatbelt region

On 13 September, Your Story’s South Australia team hosted an information session in the remote outback town of Coober Pedy. The event was a chance for the Coober Pedy community to find out about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available, with Your Story lawyer Hiran Lecamwasam (centre) and community engagement officer Sharon Lucas (far right) providing information and answering questions.

The pair then travelled to Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (also known as APY Lands) to meet with service providers and community members. They were joined by representatives from the Working Women’s Centre and the Defence and Veterans Legal Service.

Listen to Hiran’s interview with Coober Pedy community radio station, Dusty Radio.

Upcoming events

5 October – Broken Hill community invited to Disability Royal Commission Drop-in Hour

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Broken Hill? Come along to the Broken Hill City Library on 5 October to have a cuppa and a yarn about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you

7 October – Meet the Disability Royal Commission support services at the Regional Disability Expo Toowoomba

Your Story Disability Legal Support and Lotus Support Services will be at the Regional Disability Expo in Toowoomba to let people know about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to them.

13 October – Disability Matters Mildura!

Mildura residents with disability and their supporters can find out about the Disability Royal Commission and the free legal and advocacy support available at this free event hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support and the Rights Information and Advocacy Centre.

14-15 October – Meet the Disability Royal Commission support services at Brisbane Disability Expo

Heading to Brisbane Disability Expo? Visit booth 104 to meet friendly staff from Your Story Disability Legal Support, Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion and Lotus Support Services, and find out how you can access free support to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission.

18 October – National Carers Week: Our stories matter too!

On Tuesday 18 October, during National Carers Week, join Your Story Disability Legal Support for a special event celebrating carers and their contributions to disability communities and the Disability Royal Commission.

20 October – Disability Matters Horsham!

An information session about the free supports available for the Horsham community to contribute to the Disability Royal Commission.

People with disability and family members share detention experiences

Earlier this month, the Disability Royal Commission held a public hearing in Perth, where it examined conditions for people with disability in youth detention and adult prisons. Lived experience witnesses, advocates and experts, including our partner the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia, gave evidence during the first four days of the hearing.

Transcripts are now available on the Royal Commission’s website. Due to the public holiday, the final day of public hearing 27 will be held virtually on 6 October when the Royal Commission will hear from corrective services and the WA Government. 

The next public hearing will be held in Brisbane from 10 to 14 October and focus on the mistreatment of people with disability in public places, including physical and online settings. Visit the Royal Commission’s website for more information and to find out how you can share your story at public hearing 28.

Hearing highlights lack of affordable and accessible housing

This month, the Royal Commission wrapped up a public hearing into experiences of poverty and homelessness. Public hearing 26 was held in Sydney from 29 August to 2 September.

It highlighted that less than one percent of rental properties in Australia are affordable to people on the disability support pension, while people with disability are waiting years for accessible social housing.

During the hearing, Commissioners heard evidence from people with disability who have experienced homelessness or live in insecure or inadequate housing in New South Wales and Victoria, as well as representatives from the National Disability Insurance Agency and government departments.

You can catch up on the public hearing on the Royal Commission’s YouTube channel.

Sixth progress report shows surge in submissions

sixth progress report has been released, highlighting the work of the Royal Commission in the first six months of 2022.

From 1 January to 30 June, the Royal Commission held five public hearings, conducted 294 private sessions, and facilitated two policy roundtables on guardianship and supported decision-making.

The report also shows a huge increase in submissions, which jumped 65 percent (a total of 1389 submissions) compared to the previous six months. It’s available in a variety of formats, including Easy Read and Auslan.

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