Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 28, December 2023

Reflecting on 2023 and looking ahead to the new year

Dear Supporter,

This year has been momentous, overwhelming at times, but also full of hope and optimism.

In September, the final report of the Disability Royal Commission was released with 222 recommendations for a more accessible and inclusive future free of violence and abuse. We look forward to the government responses due in March, and beyond that to being part of real and tangible change.

Meanwhile, the NDIS review has recently been released and it makes 26 significant recommendations regarding NDIS 2.0 and disability services more broadly.

These events show us that the time for change is NOW. They remind us that 2024 will bring with it great promise, thanks to the hard work of so many people with lived experience of disability.

We thank our stakeholders, and the many hard working and skilled individuals in the disability sector, who collaborated with us in 2023. We are grateful for the contributions you make to our collective work.

Most importantly, we thank the many clients who have placed their trust in our service in the past year, often sharing deeply personal experiences of adversity. It has been a privilege to work with and alongside you.

Best wishes,

Susannah O'Reilly
Director, Your Story Disability Legal Support

Have your say on Royal Commission recommendations

The Australian Government is doing an online consultation to get feedback from individuals and organisations about the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

To provide your feedback, go to the website

At that site, you can also register for updates about future consultations regarding the Royal Commission report and the implementation of its recommendations.

If you have questions about the report or how some recommendations might affect you, we are here to provide free advice and information to you. Contact us on 1800 77 1800 or go to the Contact Us section on our site.

In 2024 we will provide more information and education events focussing on the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Details to follow in the new year.

Festive season operations and support

During the festive season, Your Story will be closed while its staff members take a short break.

Your Story will close at 2 PM AEST on December 22 and resume operations on January 2.

This time of year can be challenging for some people, but support is available.

  • If you or someone you know is at risk of harm, please call triple zero (000) to seek police or ambulance assistance.
  • If you are distressed, in crisis or in immediate need of support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
  • The Blue Knot Helpline provides counselling for people who have experienced childhood trauma, and its number is 1300 657 380.
  • If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who requires counselling or crisis support, you can also contact 13YARN on 13 92 76.

Legal advice pilot project for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

Our Victorian lawyers are running legal clinics for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

At these clinics in Melbourne, they provide free legal advice and information about a wide range of everyday legal issues. This includes issues commonly experienced by people with disability.

We are providing this free service in partnership with Victoria Legal Aid and Deaf Victoria.

More information about the clinic is available online. In a video made by Deaf Victoria, our lawyer Michelle speaks about her assistance for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Free legal support across Australia

We provide free legal support to people with disability and to their carers, family members and supporters.

Our support can include information, general legal advice, preliminary assistance and guided referrals.

Call us on 1800 77 1800 Monday to Friday (free call) or go to our Contact Us page for other ways to reach us.

If you need an interpreter, we can arrange one for you free. Tell us your language and we will organise it for you. 

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, we can connect you with an Aboriginal legal service.

If you are hearing or speech impaired, you can contact us by calling the National Relay Service on 133 677 or TTY 02 9219 5126.

A powerful story on an important day

The thought-provoking remarks below were made at an International Day of People with Disability event that we helped to organise in Sydney.

They were delivered by Deaf Aboriginal man Daniel McDonald, from the First Peoples Disability Network, when he presented the Welcome to Country at that event.

Daniel is pictured above. Here is an excerpt from his speech.

I want to tell you a story. It’s called “Birdcage”.

We are humans who have tried to open our wings and fly in the sky

only for someone to catch us and put us in our birdcage.

We stayed for far too long, locked away, trapped in silence,

while people would watch us from afar in our birdcage

blaming us all at the same time, giving our representation, our visual.

While some people don't want to see us in the birdcage,

we remain silent and hidden away.

We must act now. We must do our best for our community.

It is our job to champion everyone's right to seek better happiness for our disabled communities in Australia.

It is time to let us out of our cage now to spread our wings out and fly.

The dreams and the hopes of many have been fulfilled, but we must make sure that we continue to have hope and dream.

Never let us fade away into silence.

Celebrating International Day of People with Disability

On the International Day of People with Disability, our staff participated in events across Australia.

Our stakeholder relations manager Lauren Macaulay joined a Legal Aid WA event in Perth that looked at Royal Commission recommendations and their impact on people in the justice system.

At our Sydney event, disability advocate George Ayoub presented an insightful and inspiring speech, and he was joined by other speakers including our Director Susannah O’Reilly and Rania Saab who chairs the disAbility Network at Legal Aid NSW.

Brisbane Homeless Connect

Staff from our Info Line recently attended the Brisbane Homeless Connect event that highlighted free services for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of it.

This includes services focusing on medical care, housing, legal support, food and clothing, and employment assistance.

About 50 people visited our information stall to pick up some of our free resources and chat with our staff members including Liz (pictured).

Expression Australia Deaf Festival

Our Victorian lawyer Michelle recently attended the Expression Australia Deaf Festival in Melbourne.

It provided a great opportunity to make connections and let people know about accessible legal services.

“This event was a fantastic opportunity to connect with deaf people in person and to learn more about some of the barriers they experience in accessing legal services,” said Michelle.

As shown in the photo, Michelle was joined at the festival by Mark from the Community Legal Education team at Victoria Legal Aid.

Law for Community Workers webinar

It can be very beneficial for community workers to have a broad understanding about legal issues that impact on their clients.

Our lawyer Danny recently took part in a Law for Community Workers webinar about legal assistance that is available for people with disability.

With Stacey McMillan from the Legal Aid NSW NDIS team, Danny also spoke about how community workers can collaborate with legal aid services and refer clients to them.

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