Your Story delivers over 13,000 accessible legal services as submission deadline drives demand for legal support

Your Story Disability Legal Support (Your Story) has delivered more than 13,000 accessible legal services to people with disability, families, carers, advocates and supporters across Australia.

This includes over 4000 legal advice services, as well as support with submissions, private sessions and public hearings, and connecting people with counselling and advocacy support.

From September 2019 to December 2022, the Your Story Infoline received over 10,000 phone, webchat, email and online form enquiries.

The Infoline provided nearly 5000 information services about how to access the Disability Royal Commission and our service and made over 600 referrals to other services.

Your Story teams travelled across the country to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the supports available, delivering over 1200 legal education activities in the community since 2019, including information sessions, morning and afternoon teas, and webinars.

Strong demand as submission deadline draws closer

With submissions to the Royal Commission closing on 31 December 2022, many people came forward in the second half of the year to seek legal advice and support.

From July to December 2022, we:

  • received over 2000 phone, webchat, email and online form enquiries (21 percent of total)
  • provided more than 3000 accessible legal services (24 percent of total)
  • delivered nearly 400 community legal education activities (29 percent of total).

Many Your Story staff worked over the festive period to provide 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.

Your Story clients share feedback

It was 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.”
“I want to express my gratitude for your professional and compassionate way of dealing with my case.”
“Thank you for your patience, empathy, compassion, skill and understanding. I feel a lot more comfortable after receiving your advice and am excited to use my voice.”
“Thank you for your assistance and tacit counselling. I appreciate everything you’ve said and done more than you’ll ever know.”

Here’s how our staff supported people in your state or territory in 2022:

Western Australia

Our team in WA travelled extensively to raise awareness among West Australians with disability and their supporters. In 2022, they covered thousands of kilometres to deliver events and legal support across the Goldfields, South West, Mid West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Kimberley regions.

The team represented Your Story at public hearings, hosting a stall at public hearing 27 in Perth and supporting witnesses to share stories about guardianship and NDIS access for First Nations people in remote and very remote communities.

In June and July, our WA lawyers worked with the Deafblind community to support people with lived experience of deafblindness to safely share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission. They presented at the 11th National Deafblind Conference, ran tailored legal advice clinics, and collaborated with local organisations to hold an event, where members of the Deafblind community could access legal advice, submission support and Auslan counsellors. 

South Australia

Our team in South Australia travelled across the state to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available in places such as Coober Pedy, Indulkana, Mimili and Fregon/Kaltjiti in the AŠĻČangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, Ceduna, Port Lincoln and Mount Gambier.

They worked with local service providers to deliver events, such as a forum for LGBTIQA+ youth with disability experiencing homelessness, where they worked with participants to create a group submission. The team also visited correctional centres and supported many people with disability in prison to share their stories.

Your Story’s Hiran Lecamwasam published an article in the Law Society of South Australia’s journal, The Bulletin, encouraging lawyers to let their clients know about the Royal Commission and reflecting on his experiences delivering legal services and community legal education in remote parts of the state.

Victoria

In 2022, our lawyers in Victoria supported many people with disability in prison to share their stories, visiting correctional centres to provide information sessions and submission and private session support. Reaching people in regional Victoria was another focus for the team, who worked with local disability advocacy and counselling services to deliver events in different parts of the state, including flood-affected areas.

They also connected with parents and carers. During National Carers Week, Your Story lawyer Michelle Bowler wrote an article for Mamamia about the Royal Commission and her experiences as a mother and carer of a child with disability. She also facilitated an accessible webinar featuring two other carers, Jenny Nguyen and Dr Jo Watson, who shared their experiences and hopes for the Royal Commission.

Queensland

In 2022, the Queensland team travelled to dozens of locations – from Cairns to Cunnamulla, Mackay to Mt Isa, Brisbane to Barcaldine – to raise awareness and provide legal support. This included an event for the LGBTIQA+ community and allies in Brisbane, which was hosted with local advocacy and counselling services, and featured guest speaker Cody Skinner (pictured second from right), a Queensland disability advocate and a First Nations gay man living with disability.

Our Queensland lawyers supported many people with disability in prison to safely share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission, visiting correctional centres across the state and taking calls from the prison phone line. They also assisted people to give evidence at public hearings about guardianship and NDIS access for First Nations people in remote and very remote communities.

Tasmania

Your Story’s team in Tasmania worked with disability organisations and service providers to support people with intellectual disability, multicultural communities, students and young people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to safely share their stories.

They travelled extensively – from Launceston to Lady Barron, Hobart to Huon Valley, Queenstown to King Island, and everywhere in between – to raise awareness and provide free legal support to Tasmanians, including people with disability in prison.

Your Story lawyer Jane Green was also interviewed by Too Peas in a Podcast about the Disability Royal Commission and her experiences as a parent of a child with disability.

Australian Capital Territory

Your Story’s ACT team worked with disability groups and service providers to deliver joint events, including a compassion fatigue workshop for carers, and information sessions for students with disability at Australian National University.

They supported people living in mental health facilities, correctional centres, and youth detention to prepare submissions and safely share their stories. This included working with a group of young people in youth detention to prepare a group submission.

Your Story lawyers Nicola Clarke and Samantha Lawford were also interviewed for Legal Aid ACT’s podcast series, At the Heart of Legal Aid. Nicola shared how her sister, who has an intellectual disability and epilepsy, motivated her to work in a legal role that assists people with disability and deepens her understanding of some of the challenges faced by her clients.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, Your Story raised awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available in communities including Nhulunbuy, Jilkminggan, Binjari, Manyallaluk, Yirrkala, Katherine, Alice Springs, and Tennant Creek.

Our lawyers supported many adults and young people with disability in prison to share their stories, travelling to facilities across the Territory to provide legal advice, submission support, and information sessions. This included delivering 18 community legal information sessions to people in custody at Alice Springs Correctional Centre.

In July, the Disability Royal Commission visited Alice Springs to hold a public hearing about NDIS access for First Nations people with disability in remote and very remote communities. Your Story lawyer Amelia Gilroy supported a lived experience witness to share her experiences with the NDIS. 

New South Wales

Your Story travelled across New South Wales to reach communities including people experiencing homelessness, people in regional and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and multicultural communities. The NSW team also focused on supporting people with disability in prison to take part in the Disability Royal Commission, visiting a large number of prisons to deliver information sessions and outreach.

We put on a webinar about disability and police complaints with Legal Aid NSW to help people identify issues and the remedies available to address different forms of police misconduct.

Your Story lawyer Oliver Moore was interviewed by the Law Society Journal of NSW about finding a place in the law as a lawyer with Bipolar II and anxiety. He also wrote an article about improving legal services for people with disability. Jack Anderson shared his experiences of gaining employment as a lawyer with autism in an article for Living on the Spectrum.