Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 18, October 2022
In this issue ...
A message from our Victorian lawyer, Michelle
I am a Your Story lawyer supporting Victorians to safely share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission. I’m also a member of the LGBTIQA+ community and a proud mother to four young children (including triplets!), one of whom has a disability.
Balancing my work at Your Story with raising four kids, caring for my Autistic son, and further study is a constant juggling act that my partner and I share. Data from Carers Australia shows we’re not alone, with an estimated 2.65 million Australians providing unpaid care and support to a family member or friend.
Being a carer can be challenging. It has its ups and downs. It’s an extra layer on top of being a parent. Working at Your Story has opened my eyes to the diversity of carers and caring roles, and the incredibly varied experiences of carers, families and people with disability across Australia.
You can read more about my carer journey on the Mamamia website.
Carers make a huge contribution to our communities. They also have a unique perspective to offer the Disability Royal Commission. Tonight, during National Carers Week, Your Story will host a free online event to celebrate carers and raise awareness about the opportunity to access free support to share caring stories and ideas for change with the Royal Commission.
Having a child with a disability is one of the reasons I became a Your Story lawyer, which is the most rewarding job I have ever had. It has been a privilege to be in this role supporting people with disability, other carers and parents, and other supporters to take part in the Royal Commission.
My experience as a carer helps me to empathise with other carers and parents who contact our service. It can also make me a bit more vulnerable at times when I hear about awful experiences. Seeing their strength and determination to make a difference motivated me to recently share my own story and recommendations in a written submission to the Royal Commission.
Tonight, I will share what the process of making a submission was like for me, and how we at Your Story can support carers and their loved ones to safely tell their stories. We will also hear from two other carers with diverse experience.
Jenny Nguyen is a social worker, a carer for her younger brother, and a Youth Ambassador with Little Dreamers Australia. Dr Jo Watson is a speech pathologist and a disability and inclusion expert, who balances research projects and lecturing at Deakin University with supporting her mother and sister, both of whom live with disability.
During the one-hour webinar, Jenny and Jo will share their own carer journeys and their ideas for change for people with disability. National Carers Week: Our stories matter too! is free to attend and will include Auslan interpreters and live captions.
I hope you can join us tonight as we celebrate carers, their contributions to our communities, and the chance to influence meaningful change for our loved ones through the Disability Royal Commission.
Michelle Bowler, Victoria lawyer
Your Story marks three years
In case you missed it, we’re celebrating our third birthday!
In 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. You can read more highlights on our website.
Our work wouldn’t be possible without our partners and supporters, including you! Thank you for helping to get the word out about our free legal support. If you’d like to celebrate with us, you can share our message on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Your Story in the community
Your Story team member Kimberley Vlasic (right) with representatives from Lotus Support Services and TASC Legal and Social Justice Services at the Toowoomba Regional Disability Expo (RDE). More than 600 people attended the expo, which was the last RDE of the year and featured over 100 disability service, program and product providers.
Victoria lawyer Michelle Bowler at the Become Connected Expo in Mildura last week. Hosted by Mildura Rural City Council, the event was a chance for local seniors, people with disability and carers to meet service providers, such as Your Story Disability Legal Support, and enjoy presentations and activities.
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 last month. We look forward to co-hosting another event at the Rev. Bill Crews Foundation in the coming weeks.
Supporting Tasmanians to speak out
Your Story’s lawyer in Tasmania, Jane Green, recently attended the annual Speak Out Advocacy Disability Expo in Hobart, where people with disability and supporters had a chance to participate in activities and meet with 58 disability service, program and product providers.
Together with our partners Speak Out Advocacy and Relationships Australia Tasmania, Jane let eventgoers know about the free advocacy, counselling and legal support available to people interested in making a submission to the Disability Royal Commission.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to speak to so many people with disability, families, carers and support workers about the work of the Royal Commission,” said Jane. “They showed immense interest in sharing their stories to prompt systemic change. Some said they had been waiting for this opportunity all their lives.”
Jane is looking forward to travelling to Burnie today and Launceston next month to attend more local disability events.
18 October – Your Story to celebrate carers at Sydney’s Carers Day Out
After a three-year hiatus, Carers Day Out returns to Sydney today and Your Story Disability Legal Support will be there to let people know about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available. Hosted by Carers NSW, the event is an opportunity for carers to connect with one another, enjoy a range of entertainment and activities, and meet with service providers and supports.
18 October – Webinar: CaLD Communities and the Disability Royal Commission
Today, Your Story Disability Legal Support will join a panel discussion about how Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities can take part in the Disability Royal Commission, and the free supports available. This free online event is being hosted by the National Ethnic Disability Alliance from 12pm to 1.30pm AEDT.
18 October – National Carers Week: Our stories matter too!
Tonight, 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. Tune in at 5.30pm AEDT to hear from three carers with diverse experience, who will share their carer journeys and their ideas for change.
20 October – Disability Matters Horsham!
People living in Horsham, Victoria, can find out about the Disability Royal Commission and the supports available at this free event. There'll be light refreshments, information, demonstrations on how to share your story, and the chance to access onsite support from Your Story Disability Legal Support, Relationships Australia Victoria, Drummond Street Services, Rights Information and Advocacy Centre, and Leadership Plus. Students from Horsham Primary School will also attend to open the event and talk about how students are learning Auslan.
25 October – Free information sessions for people with disability, families and service providers in Charleville
Are you a person with disability, a family member or a service provider living in Charleville, Queensland? You can find out about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at information sessions hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support, Lotus Support Services and TASC Legal and Social Justice Services. Separate events will be held for people with disability and families, and service providers. For more information, visit our website.
26-27 October – Free information sessions for people with disability, families and service providers in Cunnamulla
Are you a person with disability, a family member or a service provider living in Cunnamulla, Queensland? You can find out about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at information sessions hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support, Lotus Support Services and TASC Legal and Social Justice Services. Separate events will be held for people with disability and families, and service providers. For more information, visit our website.
28 October – Disability and Police Complaints: Your Rights and Remedies
People with disability often encounter multiple barriers when interacting with police, either as victims of crime, witnesses or when in custody. Hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support and Legal Aid NSW’s Human Rights Team, this webinar is designed to help participants identify the issues and the remedies available to address different forms of police misconduct.
Your Story attends public hearing in Brisbane
Last week, the Disability Royal Commission held a public hearing in Brisbane, where it examined violence against and the abuse of people with disability in public places.
Over five days, Commissioners heard from people with disability, who told of the verbal and physical abuse, harassment and humiliation to which they’d been subjected to in public places, often at the hands of strangers.
Witnesses included our partner in Tasmania, Speak Out Advocacy, which shared a survey of 110 members with intellectual and cognitive disability, over 70 of whom had experienced some form of violence, abuse, exploitation or bullying in the community by someone they did not know.
In his opening statement, Royal Commission Chair, the Honourable Ronald Sackville AO KC, said: “The principal message from this hearing is that progress towards the ultimate goal of eliminating ableism is the responsibility of everyone in this country. Not just governments, institutions or businesses, everyone.”
Your Story’s Queensland team, including Infoline Director Katrina Smith and Infoline Project Officer Rachael Broadhurst (pictured above), was at public hearing 28 to let people attending know about our free legal support. You can find recordings and transcripts from the public hearing on the Royal Commission’s website.
Royal Commission to hear from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
People with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds will share their experiences with the Disability Royal Commission at a public hearing next week.
Public hearing 29 will be held in Melbourne from 24 to 28 October at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf.
Commissioners will hear from people with disability from CaLD communities about issues including different cultural attitudes and understanding of disability, the language and other barriers they experience, and the impact of language deprivation on the d/Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing community.
Representatives from governments and peak representative bodies and organisations will also give evidence. For more information about public hearing 29, visit the Royal Commission’s website.
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