Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 23, June 2023

In this issue ...

A message from Your Story lawyer, Amilee Myson

I am a Your Story lawyer supporting people in Western Australia who are impacted by the issues being investigated by the Disability Royal Commission. Last year a group of passionate and well organised advocates and community members from Deafblind West Australians (DBWA) and SensesWA reached out to us about the Deafblind community in WA.

Over the coming months we met regularly with those advocates and community members. Your Story hosted the Deafblind WA Board Meeting and attended monthly gatherings at the Deafblind Hub. We were generously welcomed, and, in turn, we learned lots about how our service could better serve people with sensory loss, and their families and carers.

Submissions to the Disability Royal Commission have closed now. But we remain in close contact with the Deafblind community in WA. We also keep in touch with Deafblind Australia who we collaborate with to support Deafblind clients in legal matters such as NDIS appeals, employment, or discrimination matters. Recently the WA government announced that it plans to reform the Disability Services Act 1993. The Government is consulting with West Australians about how the Act should change.

We are again teaming up with the Deafblind community to prepare a resource that is accessible in the Deafblind community and working with community members and the Government to design a public consultation event that Deafblind community members can be a part of. We’ve made a resource, which you can view here.

We’ve learnt many new and important lessons about getting information out to, and working alongside, the Deafblind community:

  • Always consult with the people who you want to get information to. It’s important to get a mix of people with different levels of sensory loss to ensure all views are considered.
  • There are a wide range of methods for communicating with a Deafblind person. Some sign, some don’t – for starters.
  • Auslan is a visual language and does not translate directly from English and English is not the first language of many Deafblind people (and to that end, Easy Read or text only resources aren’t necessarily accessible – video or in-person might be better).
  • Register matters a lot in Auslan. When we wrote the script for our Deafblind actor, Eddie, the interpreters were very conscious of how Eddie would use Auslan, how he would visually communicate. Because it wouldn’t be quite right, for this resource, if we chose a word or sign that wasn’t in Eddie’s normal register.
  • Lighting, size and colour are important factors for visibility. For example, where you stand in relation to a window or what you’re wearing or what your backdrop is.
  • Being trauma-informed might mean that each person should have a chance to contribute, if they want to. Being overlooked or ignored in group settings or multi-party conversations happens repeatedly and too often to our clients with sensory loss.

Sometimes I learn something and feel like I should’ve known it already. And sometimes it takes a couple of goes to get it right. I’m always grateful to have the chance to learn more, and to be corrected if someone is generous enough to do so.

The Deafblind community in WA wants their opinions sought, and considered, in every decision that impacts them. So they should! It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to be involved.

In solidarity,

Amilee  Myson, Your Story lawyer

Do you have a disability or care for someone who does?

Do you have a legal problem? Check out our new service brochure!

It explains what Your Story and the Disability Royal Commission are about and how we can support you, or a loved one, with legal and non-legal problems.

Visit our website to view and download the brochure.

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 received over 10,000 enquiries and 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.

Read more about our work on the website and help us spread the word on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Your Story in the community

The NSW/ACT Disability Royal Commission Funded Network Services held a face to face Reflections Day on Friday 26 May at the Teachers Federation Building in Surry Hills Sydney facilitated by Silva from Your Story.

Services came together to reflect on the achievements of the disability community over the course of the Disability Royal Commission and how we can all contribute to continued advocacy after the recommendations are released.

In April, the SA Your Story team conducted an outreach trip to the Yorke Peninsula and visited the towns of Kadina, Wallaroo and Moonta.

It was great meeting with some local stakeholders in the region and letting the services know that Your Story is still able to assist clients with questions regarding the Disability Royal Commission and other legal problems which people might be experiencing.

In WA we’ve been working on the WA Department of Communities consult called “Have Your Say: Reforming WA Disability Legislation”. Click here to read more.

The WA Government is looking to reform the Disability Services Act which governs how people with disability receive services across the state. We have also been working with a network of organisations based in WA to draft a submission to the Government on the reform.

What Australia told us

The Queensland Your Story team attended the first of the What Aust Told Us! National Information Sessions, delivered by the Disability Royal Commission.

This series of in-person sessions were designed to provide the public and other stakeholder information about the range of themes and issues communicated through voluntary written submissions, private sessions, public hearings and community forums.

Most attendance was online but there was some in-person public attendance, giving Your Story an opportunity to speak with potential clients and to hear about the individual experiences of people who have engaged with the DRC.

We also had the opportunity to catch up with key members of the DRC team and some of our other stakeholders before and after the event.

Upcoming events

Tuesday 13 June - Melbourne

What Australia Told Us!

Ibis Hotel Melbourne – 9:30 am - 11:30 am
Registrations close midnight Monday 5 June 2023

Register your attendance for this event by clicking here.

Tuesday 15 June - Adelaide

What Australia Told Us!

Elder Hall Adelaide – 9:30 am - 11:30 am
Registrations close midnight Monday 5 June 2023

Register your attendance for this event by clicking here.

Monday 19 June - online event

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Register your attendance for this event by clicking here.

Thursday 22 June 2023 – online event

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Register your attendance for this event by clicking here.

Royal Commission publishes final progress report

The Disability Royal Commission received nearly 8000 submissions, with 1700 arriving in the final month, according to its seventh progress report.

Chair of the Royal Commission, the Honourable Ronald Sackville AO KC, said more than 9500 people and organisations had shared their experiences and made significant suggestions for change. “We are most grateful to all those who have made submissions or participated in private sessions,” he said.

The Seventh Progress Report summarises the work of the Royal Commission from 1 July to 31 December 2022, and is available in a variety of formats, including Auslan and Easy Read. For more news from the Royal Commission, visit the website.

Final substantive hearing now complete

The final substantive hearing for the Disability Royal Commission three days. It is a case study and of two people living with disability, Kaleb* and Jonathon*.

Public hearing 33 ran for three days and explored the case of Kaleb and Jonathan (not their real names).

Police found Kaleb and Jonathon locked in their bedroom, unclothed and malnourished. Their father and carer were deceased in the next room.

The hearing explored how and why Kaleb and Jonathon experienced violence, abuse, neglect and were deprived of their human rights.

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