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For carers

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a general guide. It should not be relied on as legal advice and we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your particular situation.

Can I get legal support to engage with the Disability Royal Commission during COVID-19?

We are still providing legal support over the phone and via Skype/videoconference.

You can call our Infoline (1800 77 1800) and reach us through our contact form.

Recognising the particular vulnerability of people with disability to COVID-19, we have temporarily suspended face-to-face advice, outreach and community engagement activities. We will continue to monitor the advice from the Chief Health Officer to decide when we can resume these activities.

If you prefer or need face-to-face activities, you will not miss out. You can call our Infoline and register for face-to-face legal support in the future. We will contact you when face-to-face services resume.

The Disability Royal Commission has also suspended all face-to-face activities, such as community engagement activities, information session, public hearings and private sessions for the time being. You can still make a voluntary submission to the Disability Royal Commission and register for private sessions.

More information about COVID-19 is available in answer to the FAQ "Where can I get more information about COVID-19?"

How can I engage with the Disability Royal Commission during COVID-19?

You can make a submission

A submission is a record of your story.  It can be made in any language (including Auslan) and it can be recorded using words, pictures, video or audio.

Your Story Disability Legal Support can provide you legal support and advice to prepare your submission. Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us form on our website.

You can also look at our resource “Ideas for preparing your submission” found under our Factsheets tab for ideas to start planning and preparing your submission.

For more information about making a submission to the Disability Royal Commission visit their website.

You can register your interest in a private session

Registering for a private session means you ask to share your story directly with one or more commissioners. The Disability Royal Commission cannot promise that everyone who asks for a private session will get one. It depends on how many people want private sessions.

For more information about registering interest in a private session contact the Disability Royal Commission on 1800 517 199.

Please refer to the Disability Royal Commission website for updates about private sessions during COVID-19.

How can I make a submission?

There are four ways you can make a submission to the Disability Royal Commission.

  1. Online
  2. By phone: 1800 517 199 (9.00am to 5.00pm AEST Monday to Friday excluding national public holidays)
  3. By email: DRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au
  4. By post: GPO Box 1422, Brisbane QLD 4001

Your submission can be in any language or format. It can be:

  • In writing
  • An image
  • An artwork
  • An audio clip
  • A video clip

You can attach an image, artwork, audio clip or video clip to the online form or send it by email or post.

 The Disability Royal Commission has different PDF submission forms available for download. You do not have to use these forms if you do not want to.

 You can look at our resource “Ideas for preparing your submission” found under our Factsheets tab for ideas to start planning and preparing your submission.

Am I allowed to name organisations or people in a submission to the Disability Royal Commission?

It is your choice if you want to use the name of an organisation or a person in a submission to the Disability Royal Commission. But there are risks.

If you are naming a person or organisation, they may get upset about what you have said. They might say it has caused damage to them. They might even threaten to take you to court for what you have said if they hear about it. This is defamation.

To reduce the risk of this happening, it is important that if you want to use the name of an organisation or a person you:

  • Make sure your story is truthful
  • Be as clear as possible about the facts as you remember them
  • Do not repeat the story you share with the Disability Royal Commission to other people, including on social media.

You can look at our “Can I name names?” factsheet found under our Factsheets tab for further general information.

Your Story Disability Legal Support can answer your questions about using the names of a person or organisation when sharing your story with the Disability Royal Commission. Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us form on our website. 

When do I have to have my submission in by?

The Disability Royal Commission has not yet set a closing date for submissions.

The Disability Royal Commission is running for 3 years. An interim report is due by 30 October 2020 and the final report is due by 29 April 2022.

Can somebody help me with my submission?

Disability advocates can help you understand more about the Disability Royal Commission. They may also be able to help you prepare your submission. They are independent.

Your Story Disability Legal Support (Freecall: 1800 77 1800) can refer you to a disability advocate or you can find your closest disability advocacy organisation using the Disability Advocacy Finder. Services tagged with 'Disability Royal Commission Advocacy Support' on the Disability Advocacy Finder website may be able help.

Do I need legal support to engage with the Disability Royal Commission?

Not everyone will need legal advice to share their story with the Disability Royal Commission. But if there is something you are worried about; our service can give you free, independent legal advice to support you protect your rights and share your story.

Some of the things Your Story Disability Legal Support can provide legal advice about include: 

  • using the name of an organisation or person in your story
  • how to keep your story private
  • what to do if you have a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement that stops you from sharing your story
  • what to do if you are concerned about payback if you share your story
  • what to do if you are worried about sharing your story because you or someone else will be unsafe, lose access to services or employment or your rights will be affected.

Our legal advice is provided by:

  • lawyers from Legal Aid Commissions
  • lawyers from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services. 

Speaking to a lawyer does not mean you are in trouble. Our service will not pass your information to the Disability Royal Commission unless you agree. We won’t tell anybody what you tell us, unless you want us to.

You can look at our “Legal support to engage with the DRC” factsheet found under our Factsheets tab for further information.

Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us  form on our website if you would like legal support. 

How can I keep my submission confidential?

If you ask to keep your submission private, the Disability Royal Commission will do so until April 2022. This is when the Disability Royal Commission will submit their final report. After this date the documents will be transferred to the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department and may be subject to requests made under Freedom of Information law.

The Disability Royal Commission has asked the Australian Government to change the law so that a confidential submission will stay confidential even after the Disability Royal Commission ends. See the Disability Royal Commission website. The Australian Parliament needs to decide this.

The Disability Royal Commission can publish your submission on its website or in its report without naming or identifying you.  If you don’t want this to happen you should let the Disability Royal Commission know in your submission.

Your Story Disability Legal Support can give you advice about confidentiality and ways you can keep all, or parts, of your submission private. Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us  form on our website. 

Can I share my story if someone else makes decisions for me?

Yes you can.

If someone else has been appointed to make decisions for you, you can still share your story directly with the Disability Royal Commission.

If a court said you can’t give evidence in a legal case in the past, you can still share your story with the Disability Royal Commission.

The Disability Royal Commission wants to hear your story if you are a person with disability and have been hurt, treated badly, refused help or taken advantage of.

People, including disability advocates, lawyers from Your Story Disability Legal Support or staff at the Disability Royal Commission, can support you in different ways to share your story.

Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us form if you would like support from Your Story Disability Legal Support when sharing your story with the Disability Royal Commission.

You can look at our “Can I share my story?” factsheet found under our Factsheets tab for further general information.

Will I get in trouble for sharing a story?

The Disability Royal Commission wants to hear your story if you, or someone you know has been hurt, treated badly, refused help or taken advantage of.

You might have a story to share about what you have seen at the place:

  • you live
  • you work
  • you volunteer

You might be worried about sharing your story with the Disability Royal Commission because:

  • you think the person in authority (for example, your boss or staff at a care facility) may not want you to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission
  • you think you or another person might be unsafe/treated badly if you share your story
  • you have signed legal documents that say you can’t tell outsiders about your work or what you have seen.

Your Story Disability Legal Support can give you advice about the different ways you can protect yourself or protect someone else. Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us form.

You can look at our “Will I get in trouble” factsheet found under our Factsheets tab for further general information.

How do I keep safe?

Your safety and security are important. The Disability Royal Commission can work with you to protect you if you have been, or are being, hurt or treated badly and you want to share your story.

Your Story Disability Legal Support can give you legal advice about safe ways to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission. We can support you to:

  • share your story without giving your name or contact details; or
  • share your story privately.

Contact us on 1800 77 1800 (free call)  or use the Contact Us form.

What happens after I share my story with the Disability Royal Commission?

Royal Commissions make recommendations to government about what should change to improve our society. 

The Disability Royal Commission is due to deliver a final report to the Australian Government by 29 April 2022. In this report, the Disability Royal Commission will recommend how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society for people with disability.

When you share your story with the Disability Royal Commission, they may use that information to help make these recommendations for change. If you agree, your story might be included in the Disability Royal Commission’s reports or published on its website.  You can request your details remain private if the Disability Royal Commission publishes your story.

You can look at our “What happens after I share my story at a private session” factsheet found under our Factsheets tab for further general information. 

What will the Disability Royal Commission do to address my abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation?

The Disability Royal Commission will make recommendations in its report, however it is then up to governments to decide to follow up on these recommendations. These recommendations about what should change to improve our society are likely to look at broad issues. The Disability Royal Commission will not make recommendations that only relate to you and your story.

There may be a rare occasion where the Disability Royal Commission could pass on information to other investigating organisations, like the police.  Those organisations then make the decision about whether they carry out an investigation. 

If you believe a crime has been committed, you should report this directly to your local police.

If you would like advice about whether there are other legal options outside the Disability Royal Commission in relation to the violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation you have experienced, you can contact Your Story Disability Legal Support on 1800 77 1800 (free call). We will try and refer you to an appropriate lawyer for this advice. 

Who do I call if I want emotional support?

Blue Knot is a free counselling and referral service. They offer support for your emotional well-being and information on practical supports available.

Call Blue Knot on 1800 421 468 or 02 6146 1468 from 9:00am to 6:00pm weekdays and 9:00am to 5:00pm weekends (AEST). Or visit Blue Knot here.

You can call the National Relay Service on 133 677 to contact Blue Knot.

Call the free Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 for help in your language. You can ask for an interpreter.

There are face-to-face counselling services related to the Disability Royal Commission in each state and territory. Find out the details of these services on the Department of Social Service’s website.

You can also call:

  • Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 (24 hours/ 7 days). They offer free, immediate, short-term counselling, advice and referral to anyone in Australia. Available over the  phone, webchat or email.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 24 (24hours/7 days) or chat to a crisis supporter online (7:00pm – midnight/7 nights).

Why do you ask for my personal details (e.g. age, gender, location)?

We collect personal information from you to:

  • give you an accessible legal service
  • make sure our service is accountable
  • plan and report on our services.

We use and store this information in line with privacy legislation. You can apply to access and correct the information we hold about you.

Your Story Disability Legal Support gives free legal help. We are independent and separate from the Disability Royal Commission. We will not pass your information to the Disability Royal Commission unless you agree.

We ask for some information to plan and report on our service. This includes:

  • the state or territory in which you live
  • your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
  • your cultural background and other languages
  • the nature of disability.

We will only share this information after removing identifying details. 

How can I engage with the Disability Royal Commission normally (no COVID-19)?

You can share your story in 4 ways with the Disability Royal Commission:

  1. Make a submission (which you can also do during COVID-19) This means you write or record your story and send it to the Disability Royal Commission. 
  2. Register for a private session (the Disability Royal Commission has temporarily stopped private sessions because of COVID-19, but you can still ask for one in the future). Call or email the Disability Royal Commission to ask for a private session. A private session is when you share your story in person to one or more commissioners. The Disability Royal Commission cannot promise that everyone who asks for a private session will get one. It depends on how many people want private sessions.
  3. Register to speak at a community forum (the Disability Royal Commission has temporarily stopped community forums because of COVID-19). This means you ask to share your story at a public meeting organised by the Disability Royal Commission. The Disability Royal Commission will let you know if you can speak at the forum.
  4. Let the Disability Royal Commission know you would like to share your story at a public hearing (the Disability Royal Commission has temporarily stopped public hearings because of COVID-19). This means you ask to share your story in person to the Disability Royal Commission and others in a public hearing. The Disability Royal Commission may ask questions about your story at a public hearing. The Disability Royal Commission needs to invite you to be a witness. Not everyone who asks to be a witness will be invited by the Disability Royal Commission.

You can look at our “Protecting your Story” factsheet which provides more information about the 4 ways to share your story found under our Factsheets tab.

Contact Your Story Disability Legal Support (freecall: 1800 77 1800) for:

  • legal advice or
  • more information about these options.

Where can I get more information about COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new form of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. 

Where you get up-to-date information about COVID-19, and the Government response to COVID-19, will depend on what information you need and where you live in Australia. 

The websites below have information about COVID-19 for the disability community and also include phone numbers you can call for more specific information and support. 

Getting information about the Coronavirus on the phone or through a website is safer than getting information face-to-face.

If you are feeling sick and you are worried it might be related to COVID-19, there is a national 24/7 hotline 1800 020 080.  Alternatively, call your local GP or hospital. 

National Relay Service can be contacted on 1300 555 727 if you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment.

For translating or interpreting services call 131 450.

What’s the risk of sharing my story on social media?

It is your choice whether you want to share your story on social media.

However, the Disability Royal Commission’s protections don’t apply to a story shared on social media.

When you share your story with the Disability Royal Commission there are protections that apply.

These protections can help keep your story private.

These protections should also stop others from:

  • harming you
  • cancelling your services or
  • disadvantaging you in other ways

because you have shared your story with the Royal Commission. They should also protect you if someone takes you to court for sharing your story with the Royal Commission

If you share your story on social media, the people and organisations you name might see it. They might threaten to take you to court, cancel your services or disadvantage you in other ways. It may be difficult to stop this because the Royal Commission’s protections do not apply to a story shared on social media.

If you share your story on social media you have less control of your story

If you share your story on social media, other people can share your post and comment on it. People or organisations you name can also use the information against you. Even if you delete your story from social media later, there will be a permanent record of it on the internet.

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a general guide. It should not be relied on as legal advice and we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your particular situation.