Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 19, November 2022

In this issue ...

A message from our lawyer Jack

I am a person with autism and a lawyer at Your Story Disability Legal Support.

I know the difficulties that people with disability can face. As a person with autism, I found it hard to find employment. I found interviews challenging and often felt like I was being judged on personal qualities not relevant to the role. But I was also scared to tell employers that I had autism. Scared for what it would mean for my chances. Scared because I didn’t think people would understand it. Where I did find work, it felt like there was a barrier between me and success.

But since I started at Your Story and found a workplace that is willing to make reasonable adjustments and to learn about and understand disability, I have been able to realise my potential. I have been given the opportunity to display my skills and talents, to work in a welcoming environment, and to do good work. It has been rewarding and a relief.

Unfortunately, not everyone with autism has been afforded the same opportunities to fulfil their potential. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with autism in 2018 was 34.1 percent – almost eight times the rate of people without disability (4.6 percent). We believe it is important for the Royal Commission to hear about this issue, and the stories and ideas of people with autism, so that it can make recommendations to address it.

In this blog for Living on the Spectrum, I talk about my employment experiences and how we at Your Story can support the Autistic and neurodivergent community to contribute to the Royal Commission before submissions close at the end of the year.

The Royal Commission recently announced additional closing dates for submissions. The closing dates are:

  • Electronic submissions (via email or web form) – to be submitted by 31 December 2022
  • Hard copy submissions – postmarked no later than 31 December 2022
  • Phone submissions – to be completed by 23 December 2022
  • Submissions in Auslan to a Royal Commission staff member – to be booked by 12 December 2022

Your Story will be here to support you to share your story right up to 31 December. Visit our website to read more about the closing dates and our opening hours during the festive period.

I am currently in the process of making a submission myself. If, like me, you have a positive story to share, that too is important. Sharing positive experiences can help give the Royal Commission an example of how things can be done better.

No matter how big or small your story is and no matter whether it is a positive or negative story, you can contact us, and we can support you to share it.


Jack Anderson
Lawyer, Your Story Disability Legal Support

Have you requested a private session?

Private session registration closed in June. The Disability Royal Commission is encouraging anyone who registered for a private session to consider making a submission due to the high volume of private session requests it has received.

You may wish to consider making a submission instead, which can be in any language or format.

If you’re waiting for your private session to be scheduled, call us on 1800 77 1800, or visit our website for other ways to get in touch. We can discuss your options with you, give you free legal advice and support you to make a submission by 31 December.

New webinar recordings available

Last month, we marked National Carers Week with an online celebration of carers and their contributions to communities and the Disability Royal Commission.

The one-hour webinar was hosted by Michelle Bowler, a Your Story lawyer and a mother and carer of a child with disability, and featured two guest speakers: Jenny Nguyen, a social worker and a young carer, and Dr Jo Watson, a disability and inclusion expert who cares for two family members with disability.

Jenny, Jo and Michelle shared their carer journeys and discussed the impact of culture, carers’ role in the Disability Royal Commission, and their tips for self-care. Michelle’s daughter also made an unexpected cameo during the event.

Catch up on National Carers Week: Our stories matter too! on YouTube and Facebook. You can read more about Michelle and her carer journey in this op-ed for Mamamia.

A recording of our webinar with Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion, Who decides? Guardianship and administration in Queensland, is also now available to watch with subtitles and Auslan on our YouTube channel, as well as on our Facebook page.

Southwestern Queensland communities raise concerns about service access

Your Story’s Infoline Assistant Director Bradley Heilbronn recently travelled to Cunnamulla and Charleville in southwestern Queensland to deliver information sessions with our partner Lotus Support Services.

Bradley said the events were well attended, with about 20 people turning out in Charleville. “We heard about people’s difficulties accessing services out west and the lack of choice of providers,” he said. “We also heard about the need to sometimes travel hours to get to appointments.”

While in the area, the team stopped at tourist attractions such as the Cunnamulla sign, and sampled local fare, including camel burgers. The trip capped off a busy year of travel to regional and remote parts of Queensland, with locations visited including Blackwater, Barcaldine, Goondiwindi, St George, Roma, Dalby, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns, Hughenden, and Mt Isa.

The Queensland team will next host an event for the LGBTIQA+ community in Brisbane on 16 November. See the upcoming events section of the newsletter for more details.

Submission support for people in prison

Your Story’s lawyer in Tasmania, Jane Green, recently attended the Tasmania Prison Service’s (TPS) Wellbeing Expo at the Ron Barwick Prison in Risdon Vale, where dozens of community health and welfare organisations offered information and support.

Together with Disability Royal Commission counsellor Vicki Hobbs from Relationships Australia Tasmania, Jane told people about the free advocacy, legal and counselling support available to those wishing to make a submission to the Disability Royal Commission.

“It was a tremendous opportunity for people in prison to be able to speak up and have someone listen to their stories. Their options to express their opinions are so limited in such a closed environment,” said Jane. “Some were particularly keen to make submissions, not only about their prison experiences as people with disabilities, but also their lived experiences as family members and carers.”

Jane will soon hold information sessions for TPS staff and provide submission support to people in TPS facilities.

Sharing Great Southern stories

Our team in Western Australia has been travelling far and wide to get the word out about the Disability Royal Commission and our free legal support. Pictured is lawyer Demi Thackrah at the Great Southern Ability Festival in Albany last month, where hundreds of eventgoers had a chance to meet with over 40 disability service and product providers.

While in the Great Southern region, Demi also hosted a community information session and morning tea in Esperance with our partner Sussex Street Community Legal Services. The event featured a presentation about the Disability Royal Commission, how to make submissions, and the free supports available to those wishing to make a submission. “It was well attended by community support workers and case managers, and a great success,” said Demi.

Upcoming events

16 November – Your Story Matters

Guest speaker Cody Skinner will share his experiences as a First Nations gay man living with disability and taking part in the Disability Royal Commission at this free event for the LGBTIQA+ disability community in Brisbane. Staff from Your Story Disability Legal Support, Lotus Support Services and Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion will also be there to provide information and onsite support.

17-18 November – Disability Matters Horsham!

Are you a person with disability, or a supporter, living in the Wimmera region? Don’t miss our free events in Horsham. You’ll have a chance to access information and onsite support and speak with staff from Your Story Disability Legal Support, Rights Information and Advocacy Centre, and the Disability Royal Commission.

30 November – IDPwD 2022: Not All Disabilities Are Visible

Your Story Disability Legal Support will join a panel discussion with lawyers, counsellors and social justice advocates to explore the theme ‘Not All Disabilities Are Visible’ ahead of International Day of People with Disability. Hosted by Relationships Australia NSW, the online event is free to attend and will be held on Wednesday 30 November at 1pm AEDT. 

Royal Commission hears from culturally and linguistically diverse communities

By Abdul Ahmed, Victoria lawyer

The Disability Royal Commission conducted its 29th public hearing at the Melbourne Convention Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, from 24 to 28 October. The theme was “The experience of violence against, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities”.

The hearing was chaired by the Honourable Ronald Sackville AO KC. Other commissioners who were present included Dr Rhonda Galbally AC, Barbara Bennett PSM and Alastair McEwin AM.
Over the week, the Commissioners heard from people with disability from CALD communities, advocates and experts with lived experience, as well as representatives from peak bodies and organisations.

Witnesses included Anaab Rooble, who was 17 when she arrived in Australia from Somalia as a refugee. Now 43, Anaab wears a brace and walks with a limp.

She told the Royal Commission that on her way to the hearing, she found that the lift at Melbourne Central was out of order and she almost did not make it. She added that while her disability did not hold back her career, inaccessible workplaces did.

Commissioners also heard from witnesses about the challenges people from non-English backgrounds face when navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Your Story’s Victoria team was at the hearing to let people attending know about our free legal support. You can find recordings and transcripts from public hearing 29 on the Royal Commission’s website.

Royal Commission announces additional closing dates for submissions

The Disability Royal Commission has announced additional closing dates for submissions. Anyone can make a submission, which can be in any language or format, including over the phone, in writing, an artwork, or an audio or video recording.

The closing dates are:

  • Electronic submissions (via email or web form) – to be submitted by 31 December 2022
  • Hard copy submissions – postmarked no later than 31 December 2022
  • Phone submissions – to be completed by 23 December 2022
  • Submissions in Auslan to a Royal Commission staff member – to be booked by 12 December 2022

Visit the Royal Commission’s website for more information about making a submission. Your Story is here to support people to share their stories right up to 31 December. Read more about the closing dates and our opening hours over the festive period.

Next public hearing to focus on guardianship system

The next public hearing will focus on guardianship, substituted and supported decision making. Public hearing 30 will take place at Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, 11A Olympic Blvd, Sydney Olympic Park, in Sydney, NSW, from 21 to 25 November.

Keep an eye on the Royal Commission’s website for updates on this public hearing. Watch our webinar about the guardianship system in Queensland on YouTube.

Service provider public hearing moved to February 2023

The ‘Service Providers Revisited’ public hearing, now public hearing 32, has been moved to next year. The hearing will now take place from 13 to 17 February at Level 5, Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane, Queensland.

See the public hearing schedule on the Disability Royal Commission’s website.

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