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Your Story Disability Legal Support update— Issue 10 December 2021

In this edition, we cover International Day of People with Disability and other upcoming events, Your Story's Christmas closure, recent webinars and public hearings, and much more.

A message from Fiona, our Manager of Stakeholder Relations

I’m so excited about Fearless and Fabulous, our free online event to celebrate International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD) on Friday. Our guest speakers remind me of the opening line of an old joke: a comedian, a lawyer and an advocate walk into a bar…

It sounds like a bit of light-hearted fun and we expect it will be at times (and much more)! We could all do with a laugh after another year of living with COVID-19 and all the unknowns and challenges it has brought us.

I recently enjoyed an evening of fun and glamour when I attended Mr and Miss Deaf in Sydney, along with my fellow Your Story team member Oliver Moore. You might be thinking aren’t beauty pageants a bit outdated? Well, this one was different!

There were so many categories reflecting the diversity and intersectionality of the Deaf community, including a Miss Trans and Mr Gay category. The winners of both are pictured below. The way Oliver and I were welcomed into this event was a great reminder of what I love about being part of the Disability community.

Although I have lived with a significant hearing loss caused by an enlarged vestibular (they think!) since my teenage years and wear two hearing aids, I don’t see myself as being part of the Deaf community, and only know a little Auslan. Yet these weren’t barriers while attending Mr and Miss Deaf. Instead, we were embraced with oodles of warmth and an immediate sense of connection and inclusion.

Caption: Your Story team members Oliver Moore and Fiona McLean with the winners of Mr and Miss Deaf in Sydney

I believe connection is an essential ingredient for an inclusive society. In times of need or uncertainty it’s important to know where or who to turn to for support. In this role I have learnt of the many networks and services available for people with disability and their loved ones.

Unfortunately, many do not know they exist or can be put off by complex requirements to access them. Wouldn’t it be great if the Disability Royal Commission came up with a solution to address these barriers?

On Friday, we’ll be asking our IDPWD panellists what recommendation they’d like to see in the Royal Commission’s final report. Comedian Imaan Frank Hadchiti, carer and lawyer, Dr Bridget Cullen, and disability advocate Michael Baker will also share their views on inclusion and the Disability community.

I have no doubt their responses will be insightful, at times funny, and, above all, reflective of their unique circumstances and perspectives. I hope you can join us, and that you are able to feel a sense of connection on this important day. For more information and to register for Fearless and Fabulous, please visit our website.

In solidarity with the Disability community ahead of IDPWD,
Fiona McLean, Manager of Stakeholder Relations

P.S. If it’s not too much to ask, we’d be grateful if you could help us spread the word about our IDPWD event on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Thank you in advance for your support!

Webinar recap: Get on the record with Eva Sifis and Disability Royal Commission support services

We recently teamed up with our partners in Victoria to host an online panel discussion about the Disability Royal Commission and free supports available.

The main drawcard of the event was guest speaker Eva Sifis, who shared her powerful story of living with an acquired brain injury (ABI), beating cancer, and starting her own workshop and public speaking business to help others with ABI.

Her speech was followed by our lawyer Anna and local partners Leadership Plus and Relationships Australia Victoria talking about the Royal Commission and support services, with our lawyer Michelle moderating the discussion.

The Auslan-interpreted webinar was livestreamed to Facebook, so you can watch it at any time.

Connecting with remote Aboriginal communities

Your Story lawyer Jo (centre) with members of a women's yarning circle at Quarantine Bay near Cooktown

Storytelling is central to Aboriginal culture. On a recent visit to Guugu Yimithirr country in Far North Queensland, our lawyer Jo was lucky enough to be invited to speak at a women’s yarning circle conducted at Quarantine Bay near Cooktown.

If you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, we can support you to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission. Call 1800 77 1800 for free, independent legal support.

Why you should share your story with the Disability Royal Commission

“Often people say that they don’t want what happened to them to happen to anyone else, and that after they tell their story they feel like a weight has been lifted. If you choose to share your story, and your ideas and recommendations for change, you will be listened to and treated with respect.”

Our lawyer Michelle has been busy getting the word out about the Disability Royal Commission and our free legal support. Read her article for Hireup.

Webinar recap: It’s safer to share your story

On 4 November, we hosted a webinar for people with disability and their supporters about the new Disability Royal Commission privacy protections.

During the Auslan-interpreted webinar, our senior lawyer Sifa Mtango and lawyer Oliver Moore explained what the changes mean and how we can support people to take advantage of them, to keep their story or parts of it confidential after the Royal Commission ends.

A recording of the webinar is now available on our YouTube channel and Facebook page, which we invite you to share with your networks.

Your Story Christmas closure

Please be advised our Infoline (1800 77 1800) will be closed for the Christmas and New Year period from 12pm AEST on Friday 24 December 2021. We will reopen on Monday 10 January 2022.

If you or someone you know is at risk of harm, please call the police. In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000). If you are distressed, in crisis or in immediate need of support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you need support from a counsellor to engage with the Disability Royal Commission, you can call Blue Knot Foundation on 1800 421 468.

This information will be available on our website during the closure period. Season's greetings from the Your Story team, we hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

Upcoming events

On International Day of People with Disability, Your Story will celebrate the “fearless and fabulous” disability community with an Auslan-interpreted panel discussion featuring comedian Imaan Frank Hadchiti, carer and lawyer, Dr Bridget Cullen, and disability advocate Michael Baker.

Join us on Friday to hear their perspectives on the Disability community, inclusion and the Disability Royal Commission. Read about our other upcoming events below.

2 December – Your Story to present a free webinar for Queensland community workers

Community workers in Queensland can find out more about the Disability Royal Commission and Your Story’s free legal support at this webinar hosted by Legal Aid Queensland. The webinar will be presented by our Queensland Your Story lawyer Steve Wettenhall.

2 December – You can do that: Providing services to people with disability

On Thursday, Your Story and Legal Aid Western Australia will host an event for International Day of People with Disability in Perth. “You can do that” will feature an afternoon tea followed by a panel discussion with four people with expertise in providing disability services, including Your Story Advisory Group Member Nita King.

3-4 December – Meet Disability Royal Commission support services at the Sydney Disability Expo

Sydneysiders can meet learn more about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at the Sydney Disability Expo this week. Your Story and local partner Relationships Australia NSW will be among over 150 exhibiting service and product providers at the event, which will take place over two days at the Sydney Showground.

8 December – Meet the Far North Queensland Your Story team at the Douglas Shire Services Expo

Do you live in Far North Queensland? Come along to the Douglas Shire Services Expo to meet your local Your Story lawyer and learn about the Disability Royal Commission and our free legal support. Your Story will have a stall at the event, which is being hosted by Mission Australia NDIS Cairns Region to mark Disability Action Week and International Day of People with Disability.

Hearing queer voices at the Disability Royal Commission

Are you a member of the LGBTIQA+ community living with disability?

On 9 December, join us for a conversation with Luna (they/she), a young queer, non-binary trans woman with disability, and Oliver (he/him), a lawyer from Your Story.

Luna will share how they came to hear about the Disability Royal Commission and the process of sharing their story to create positive change, not just for themself, but for others in their community.

Oliver will talk about how Your Story can support members of the LGBTIQA+ community to take part in the Disability Royal Commission, and ways to keep their story, or parts of it, private.

10-11 December – Meet Disability Royal Commission support services at the Nepean Disability Expo

New South Wales residents can learn more about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at the Nepean Disability Expo this month. Your Story and local partner Relationships Australia NSW will be among over 100 exhibiting service and product providers at the event, which will take place over two days at the Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre.

23 January – Your Story to celebrate Midsumma Festival in Melbourne

Your Story is gearing up for one of the biggest events in the LGBTIQA+ calendar, Midsumma Carnival. The Victorian Your Story team will be at the annual outdoor event to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and free supports available.

Disability Royal Commission news

Public hearing 18 took place on 8 and 9 November. It focused on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and how it can be applied in Australian law, policies and practices to prevent the mistreatment of people with disability.

Public hearing 19, held from 22-26 November, was about open employment, with a particular focus on employer policies and practices for recruiting and retaining employees with disability. The Royal Commission is planning to consider the Disability Employment Services program, and segregated employment settings, in later hearings and work of the Royal Commission.

The next public hearing is scheduled for 7-16 December and will examine how disability service providers prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, focusing on two case studies involving group homes.

For more information about public hearings, visit the Royal Commission’s website.


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