Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 26, October 2023

The Royal Commission's final report 

The final report of the Disability Royal Commission has been released.

We are hopeful and excited for positive change to come, and for a more inclusive Australia where people with disability can live free from violence and abuse.

We thank everyone who contributed to the Royal Commission, and we also acknowledge those who were unable to.

We thank people for making submissions to this inquiry - often relating to experiences of trauma but also resilience - and for the privilege of working with, and for you, through that process.

Inquiry ends, problems do not

The Royal Commission recommendations provide a unique opportunity for Australia to better protect and advance the rights of people with disability. But if that is to happen, legal and advocacy services must be supported.

It is crucial for ongoing legal supports to be in place for people with disability to ensure they can advance and protect their own rights.

Do you have questions about the final report?

We are here to support you if you have questions about the Royal Commission and its final report.

We continue to provide free legal support to people with disability as well as their families, carers and supporters. This can include support with issues such as the NDIS, discrimination or guardianship, or problems with your employment, schooling or housing.

For information or assistance, please contact us on 1800 77 1800online or email.

We know the conclusion of the Disability Royal Commission might raise mixed emotions for many people.

For emotional support, contact the National Counselling and Referral Service at Blue Knot on 1800 421 468. That service provides trauma-informed telephone counselling and will remain available until 31 December 2023. To yarn with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter, contact 13YARN on 13 92 76.

Thank you

The Royal Commission’s final report makes 222 recommendations to government. Many of the recommendations focus on what needs to change to ensure people with disability are safe and have their human rights upheld.

Thank you, again, to those of you who made a submission. Without your story, and the submissions of other people who took part in this inquiry, the government would not have heard directly from people with disability about what needs to change.

Your bravery and generosity in sharing your story will benefit other people with a disability – both now and in the future.

Your Story Director Susannah O'Reilly

Disability Royal Commission closes with a Ceremonial Sitting

The Royal Commission formally marked its completion with a Ceremonial Closing Sitting on September 15.

A highlight of that event was award-winning poet Andy Jackson reciting this powerful poem he wrote called Listen.

Andy wrote it to honour the courage and insight of all who gave evidence or provided information to the Royal Commission - and to acknowledge those who were not able to.

Turning four – and so much more!

We recently marked our fourth anniversary and that provided a chance to reflect on some much bigger numbers.

In the four years since Your Story was established, we have helped thousands of people. The numbers below provide a snapshot of some of our services.

  • We have handled almost 12,000 enquiries and provided more than 15,000 legal services.
  • We have delivered 1,300 community legal education events and they reached millions of people.
  • We created almost 250 legal education resources including Easy Read guides and Auslan videos.
  • Our Aboriginal Legal Service lawyers worked with community-controlled organisations and provided legal advice and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
  • We have travelled to hundreds of locations around the nation to deliver legal assistance and education. Those locations included mental health facilities, group homes, youth detention centres and prisons. Our Prison Line received almost 3,000 calls from people in those facilities.

Seeking your feedback

We are being evaluated!

Have you used our services? Or do you know someone who has?

If so, we encourage you to do this short survey and to share it with your networks.

Your responses will be used to help us understand the difference we make to our clients, what has worked well, and what we can improve.

Your responses to the survey will be anonymous. You won’t be asked to share personal details about yourself or your legal issues.

To find out more about the evaluation, visit our website.

Accessible information about the Voice & voting

The referendum on the Voice to Parliament takes place on Saturday 14 October.

Here are some places to find accessible information about voting and the Voice proposal.

The First People’s Disability Network has prepared this Easy Read guide about the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

The Council for Intellectual Disability has prepared this Easy Read guide about the Voice to Parliament

The Australian Electoral Commission provides information – about resources in eBraille, large print, First Nations languages and other formats – on this page of its website

SBS provides information in Auslan about the Voice referendum. 

We support the rights of people with disability to have accessible information about the Voice and to vote in a way that works for them.

We also lend our support to our First Nations brothers and sisters during this time that we know is difficult for many people. To yarn with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter, contact 13YARN on 13 92 76

Accessible voting options

Here is some information about different voting options and the support that is available for people with disability.

This Australian Electoral Commission page has information about:

  • wheelchair accessible polling places
  • polling places with hearing loops
  • virtual Auslan interpreters
  • voting using text-to-speech pens
  • secure telephone voting if you are blind or have low vision
  • mobile voting
  • early voting
  • postal voting.

The Electoral Commission also has Easy Read guides about voting.

This Auslan video explains what to expect at a polling place and how to correctly complete a ballot paper.

The Electoral Commission also provides this simplified online education activity about the process of a referendum. It outlines what a referendum is, how to enrol, how to vote and how to ask for help.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can use the National Relay Service to contact the Electoral Commission.

Call using one of the following options:

  • if you use TTY, phone 133 677 then ask for 13 23 26
  • if you use Speak and Listen, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 13 23 26
  • if you use internet relay, connect through the National Relay Service website, and then ask for 13 23 26.

Disability Pride Fest

We take part in Disability Pride events across Australia and recently attended one in Sydney.

At the Inner West Disability Pride Fest, we had a stall with the NDIS service from Legal Aid NSW.

This festival was organised by a team of volunteers – all people with disability – and it celebrated our collective achievements in the disability rights movement. It put a spotlight on a wide range of activities involving people with disability – ranging from sailing to pole dancing to ukelele playing!

The festival began with a beautiful Welcome to Country in Auslan by Daniel McDonald from Deadly Hand Talk and Auslan Stage Left.

A wall of remembrance illustrated how our community continues to face abuse, neglect and violence. It was a timely reminder of the need to act collectively to ensure the recommendations of the Disability Royal Commission are implemented.

For us, it was a moving, entertaining and inspiring day. We were honoured to be able to support people to assert their rights. We encourage everyone, with or without a disability, to come along to celebrate disability pride at events like this across Australia.

By Your Story lawyer Jack Anderson and Shaana Dekker from the NDIS service at Legal Aid NSW

Speak Out

Your Story’s lawyer in Tasmania, Jane Green, recently attended the annual Speak Out Advocacy Disability Expo in Hobart.

At this event, people with disability and their supporters had a chance to take part in activities and meet with about 60 providers of disability services and products.

Jane talked to people about the free legal support available to people with disability, their family members and carers.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to speak to so many people about the Royal Commission as well as the legal support they can get through Your Story,” said Jane. “They are so keen to have past wrongs acknowledged and to see systemic change occur in the sector”.

Towards Inclusion Expo

We attend many disability expos around Australia and were pleased to be part of the Towards Inclusion expo in Sydney.

Events like this help us to connect with community members, inform them about our free support, and provide legal assistance to them.

We had a stall at the expo alongside many other organisations, from local community groups to government services.

The Towards Inclusion expo brought together representatives from services focusing on education, youth assistance, counselling, advocacy, health, social supports and legal assistance. It was great to be there with organisations including the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association, the Diversity and Disability Alliance, and the Tenants’ Union.

By Your Story lawyer Anton Karla

Upcoming events

National Carers Week is held this month and provides an opportunity to recognise, celebrate and raise awareness about the millions of Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend.

There will be events across Australia, including a Carers Day Out function in NSW

Meet Your Neighbour event is being held this month in Sydney's inner west. This event is a free networking function for frontline workers and organisations that support people with lived experience of mental health issues.

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