Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 21, February 2023
Issue 21 – February 2023
In this issue ...
Your Story Disability Legal Support update
A message from our Tasmania lawyer, Jane
My goodness, December 2022 was a remarkable, whirlwind month for Your Story! With many of our team working over the festive period, we strove to support people to lodge their submissions with the Disability Royal Commission before the final 31 December deadline. It was the extraordinary high point of 3.5 years of effort, commitment and resolve – not only for the Your Story team but also for our partners in the advocacy and counselling services, and the entire disability community, who fought long and hard for this Royal Commission.
Since our inception in September 2019, Your Story has provided over 13,000 accessible legal services to people with disability, families, carers, advocates and supporters, with nearly a quarter of these delivered in the second half of 2022. As of 7 February, the Royal Commission had received 7945 submissions, 357 of which were sent on the closing date! I certainly relished my annual leave and the opportunity to return to work refreshed and ready for the new year and the next chapter of the Royal Commission and supporting people with disability to access the legal system.
As a person with lived experience of disability and the carer of our son who has a disability, it has been a privilege to support members of the community to make their submissions. The experience of witnessing people find their voices – sometimes after years of feeling unheard – has been profoundly humbling. I am in awe of their strength, courage, grace, resilience, selflessness and compassion. As people with disability and their families, carers, and supporters know, just making it through each day can be enough of a challenge, let alone finding the time and energy to assist the Royal Commission. This is a priceless gift of altruism for Australia and deserving of everyone’s respect.
Working with people on their submissions has raised many emotions for me – compassion as I have heard what they have endured; awe as I have pondered how they have managed to keep going; frustration as I have been told about mistreatment; and joy as I have witnessed their pleasure when they express their thoughts and ideas, often gleaned over a lifetime. The people we have helped have incredible knowledge, experience, stories, and ideas for change to share with the broader Australian community, all in the hope of creating a more inclusive society.
Inspired by their efforts, I finally lodged my submission at 6pm on the last day! Fuelled by the midnight deadline, I poured out my thoughts on my lived experiences of disability, caring and working as a Your Story lawyer. Eleven pages later, I was tired but elated. The act of putting years of thoughts about Australian disability matters on paper was very satisfying and the subsequent acknowledgement I received from the Royal Commission made me feel heard and seen.
I am now eagerly anticipating both the release of the Royal Commission’s final report and seeing how these recommendations for change will be met by governments and Australian society. I’m also excited to continue supporting Tasmanians with disability and their families, carers and supporters, whether that’s with questions about their submissions, at private sessions or with other legal issues they are dealing with. Please do not hesitate to contact us as we’re here to support you.
Jane Green, Your Story lawyer in Tasmania
Your Story delivers over 13,000 accessible legal services
Thousands of people across Australia sought legal support from Your Story ahead of the Disability Royal Commission closing submissions on 31 December 2022.
From July to December, the Your Story Infoline received 2145 phone, webchat, email and online enquiries, which accounted for over 21 percent of all enquiries received since the service started in September 2019.
In that time, our lawyers provided over 3000 legal services, with many working over the festive period to give legal advice and support people to make submissions – including by phone, in writing and Auslan, and through art, music and video – right up to the closing date.
In total, Your Story has delivered more than 13,000 accessible legal services to people with disability, families, carers, advocates and supporters. This wouldn’t have been possible without your support.
Help us spread the word about our impact on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Your Story clients share feedback
It has been great to get feedback from people about what working with our service and taking part in the Disability Royal Commission meant to them...
“Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and also to hear my story and concerns as well. I really appreciated the input but mostly how comfortable and, yes, more empowered I felt while talking to you. I am so glad that I got to talk to you personally and through the serious conversation, we managed to have a few laughs.”
Visit our website to read more feedback from our clients.
Ongoing legal support for people with disability and supporters
Your Story will continue to provide free legal support to people with disability and their families, carers and supporters in 2023.
A Your Story lawyer can give you legal advice if you made a submission or have a question about the Disability Royal Commission. They can support you at a private session or a public hearing.
Your Story can also support you with legal problems you might be dealing with, such as the NDIS, discrimination, guardianship, or family violence, and connect you with other support services, including free advocacy and counselling.
We will continue to provide accessible legal education for the Disability community in 2023. If you would like to request a session for your clients or staff or are interested in hearing about a particular topic, please complete our survey.
You can contact Your Story by phone at 1800 77 1800 (free call), by webchat, email, or online form at yourstorydisabilitylegal.org.au, or via the National Relay Service (133 677) or the Translating and Interpreting Service (131 450).
4 March – Your Story heads to Healthy Lifestyles Expo in Hobart
More than 5000 people are expected at the Healthy Lifestyles Expo in Hobart, where Your Story will have a stall. Presented by Think Big Run the Bridge and Rotary Tasmania, the event will be a celebration of all things health and wellness and feature local charities and businesses. It’s happening at Princes Wharf 1, Castray Esplanade, from 10am to 3pm.
23 March – Webinar: What is the NDIS Independent Expert Review?
The National Disability Insurance Agency has introduced the Independent Expert Review (IER) program to provide better and earlier outcomes for NDIS participants who have lodged an application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Join this free online event to find out how you can access free advocacy and legal support if you are invited to take part in the IER program.
New public hearing announced
The Disability Royal Commission has scheduled a new public hearing for May.
Titled ‘A case study’, public hearing 33 will be held in Brisbane, Queensland, from 9 to 11 May. Visit the Royal Commission’s website for updates.
Royal Commission counts the economic cost of mistreatment
The mistreatment of people with disability costs Australia $46 billion annually, according to a new report from the Disability Royal Commission.
With 4.8 million people living with disability (19 percent of the Australian population), preventing mistreatment would save on average $9600 per person with disability.
Titled Economic Cost of Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability, the report takes into account systemic failures and neglect, such as loss in labour force productivity, and mistreatment perpetrated by individuals, including additional hospital stays.
It’s available in a variety of formats, including Easy Read and Auslan, on the Royal Commission’s website.
Royal Commission hears disability advocates “at capacity all the time”
The Disability Royal Commission has heard that people are being turned away from advocacy services amid increased demand and capacity issues.
Disability advocates from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria were among 38 witnesses to give evidence at public hearing 32, which was held in Brisbane, Queensland, from 13 to 17 February. They painted a picture of an “underfunded” and “under-resourced” sector, leading to staff burnout, long wait times for people with disability, and unmet needs.
Titled ‘Service providers revisited’, the hearing looked at the themes raised by people with disability at previous hearings and how service providers can prevent mistreatment from happening in the future.
Representatives from Afford, Life Without Barriers and Sunnyfield also returned to the witness stand to report on how they had responded to instances of abuse, violence and neglect at facilities run by the organisations. Transcripts and videos from the hearing are now available on the Royal Commission’s website.
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