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For people with disability
Can I get legal support during COVID-19?
We are still providing legal support over the phone and via Skype/videoconference.
You can call our Infoline (1800 771 800) 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.
How can I engage with the Royal Commission?
You can tell your story in 4 ways:
- Make a submission
This means you write or record your story and send it to the Disability Royal Commission.
This means you ask to tell your story at a public meeting organised by the commission. The commission will tell you if you can speak at the forum. You will also need to tell your story in a submission.
- Register to speak at a community forum
- Ask for a private session
This means you ask to tell your story in person to one or more commissioners. The commission cannot promise that everyone who asks for a private session will get one. It depends on how many people want private sessions.
- Ask to be a witness in a public hearing
This means you ask to tell your story in person to the commissioners and others in a public hearing. They may ask questions about your story. The commission needs to invite you to be a witness. Not everyone asking to be a witness will receive an invitation.
Call Your Story Disability Legal Support for:
- legal advice or
- more information about these options.
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 (AEDT). Or visit www.blueknot.org.au
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.
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).
Am I allowed to name organisations or people?
It is your choice if you want to use the name of an organisation or a person at the Disability Royal Commission. But there are risks.
It is possible, but very rare to be taken to court for naming someone in your story to the Royal Commission. This is defamation. If you have to go to court it can be time consuming and expensive.
To protect yourself against the risk of going to court it's best not to name people or organisations.
If you are writing your story, you can use a random letter, like “X” instead of the name of the organisation or person. For example: I was working at X when it happened.
If the Disability Royal Commission thinks it needs to know the specific name, it can ask you to use the name.
If the Disability Royal Commission tells you to use the name of an organisation or person call us on 1800 771 800 for help. We can give you specific advice.
What if I choose to name names?
It is important that you follow these steps if you want to use the name of an organisation or a person. Step 1
- Make sure your story is truthful.
- Do not tell your story with the goal of hurting the reputation of the organisation or person. This is a malicious complaint.
- Do not repeat what you say at the Disability Royal Commission to friends and family.
Do not post your story, or any names, on social media.
You could also think about making a confidential submission.
If you want to make a confidential submission call us on 1800 771 800 for help. We can give you specific advice.
How can I make a submission?
You can make a submission in a way you feel comfortable—by phone, email or by using the form on the Disability Royal Commission website
You can make a submission in your first language.
For more information, visit the Royal Commission website or call them on 1800 517 199.
When do I have to have my submission in by?
The Royal Commission has not yet set a closing date for submissions.
The 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 Royal Commission. They may also be able to help you prepare your submission. They are independent.
Find your closest disability advocacy organisation. Services tagged with 'Disability Royal Commission Advocacy Support' may be able help.
Your Story Disability Legal Support can refer you to a disability advocate. Call us on 1800 771 800.
Do I need to talk to a lawyer?
Not everyone will need legal advice to tell their story to the Royal Commission.
A lawyer can help you decide the best way to tell your story to the Disability Royal Commission. Talking to a lawyer does not mean you are in trouble.
You should talk to Your Story Disability Legal Support if:
- you want to use the name of an organisation or person in your story
- you want to keep your story private
- you have a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement stopping you from telling your story
- you have concerns about payback if you tell your story
- you have worries about telling your story because:
- you or someone else will be unsafe
- you or someone else will lose access to services or employment
- your or someone else's rights will be affected.
How can I keep my submission confidential?
If you ask to keep your submission private, the Royal Commission will do so until April 2022. This is when the Royal Commission will submit their final report. The Royal Commission has asked the Australian Government to change the law. This is so submissions will be confidential after the Royal Commission ends. See their website. The Australian Parliament needs to decide this.
The Royal Commission can publish your submission without naming or identifying you.
Your Story Disability Legal Support can give you advice about confidentiality. This includes how to ask to keep your submission private.
I am a witness. What do I do?
You can have a lawyer represent you.
Your Story Disability Legal Support can help you find a lawyer. They can also talk to you about how to get financial help to pay for a lawyer.
Find out more about the Legal Financial Assistance Scheme. (Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department)
Why do I have to give you my personal details (eg 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 Royal Commission. We will not pass your information to the Royal Commission unless you agree.
We need to collect some information to meet our reporting needs. This includes:
- jurisdiction (state/territory)
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
- cultural background and other languages
- nature of disability.
We will only use this information after removing identifying details. We need dates of birth so we can record the advice we give you in our case management system.