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Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 12, March 2022

In this edition, we invite you to join the conversation about multiculturalism and disability at our Harmony Week webinar on Friday. We also cover International Women's Day, our new video series, upcoming events, and much more.

A message from Your Story lawyer Rania

March is shaping up to be a very special month, with a focus on women. As a woman with disability, and a carer for my daughters, both of whom have a disability, I feel very fortunate that I get to be part of the conversation around women with disability.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion with our newest Advisory Group member, Dr Kirsten Harley, and Legal Aid NSW lawyer and carer, Ruth Pilkinton.

It was an emotional, insightful conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability and their carers. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on our YouTube channel.

Breaking the bias

We also celebrated International Women's Day, acknowledging the many women who contribute to our service and those who have shared their stories to help make Australia safer and more inclusive of women and girls with disability.

This year, the theme of International Women's Day was "break the bias". Growing up, I always wondered about the intersectionality of my gender and my disability and how much harder it would be for me to achieve my personal and professional goals.

I have always believed that our differences should be valued and celebrated, woven into the fabric of society rather than set aside and discarded.

In both my personal and professional lives, I've found myself thrust into an advocacy role because I could not see inequality and injustice and ignore it. It is an honour to be working with Your Story where I get to put that advocacy into action on a daily basis by supporting others to safely share their stories, ideas and recommendations for change with the Disability Royal Commission.

I really believe that when we share our stories, we are effecting change, enlightening people and making the world fairer and kinder to people with disability. I love this video created by Women with Disabilities Victoria to educate the world about the lived experience of women with disability.

Royal Commission to focus on violence against women and girls with disability

Next week, the Royal Commission will hear from women and girls with disability who have experienced violence and abuse. The week-long public hearing will not be open to the public, but witnesses will appear in person in Hobart and Brisbane, with proceedings livestreamed on the Royal Commission's website.

It follows part one of public hearing 17, which highlighted alarming rates of family, domestic and sexual violence against women and girls with disability.

A report commissioned by the Disability Royal Commission and compiled by the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health revealed that over their lifetime, 64 percent of people with disability report experiencing physical violence, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, emotional abuse and/or stalking compared to 45 percent of people without disability.

Further, women with disability were more than twice as likely to report sexual violence as women without disability.

Safety, gender and disability: Are we getting it right?

We will explore this issue further in the next edition of our monthly webinar series, Safety, gender and disability: Are we getting it right?, on Tuesday 5 April.

The lunchtime webinar will be facilitated by my Your Story colleague Josie Short and feature two strong female advocates with disability, Deborah Thomson and Heidi La Paglia Reid. They will reflect on public hearing 17.2 and discuss what can be done to make Australia safer and more inclusive of women, girls, feminine-identifying, trans, inter-sex and non-binary people with disability.

Deborah is a woman with disability and a domestic violence survivor and advocate based in Burnie, Tasmania. She is passionate about advocating for change for survivors of violence and people with disability, particularly those who have experienced abuse by their partner, who can be their carer as well, and recently shared her ideas and recommendations with the Disability Royal Commission.

Heidi is a proud Autistic, feminist activist from Hobart, Tasmania, and the Director of Policy and Programs at Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). She is also a member of the Your Story Advisory Group and recently shared why she joined.

I hope you will join us on Tuesday 5 April to hear these remarkable women speak.

Your story matters and together we can break the bias.

Yours in solidarity,
Rania Saab, Your Story lawyer

Your Story news

We're excited to launch the Your Story Matters video series.

In the six videos, our staff answer frequently asked questions about the Disability Royal Commission and explain how we can support you to safely share your story.

You can watch the videos on our website and YouTube channel. Please help us spread the word by sharing the Your Story Matters series on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Sharing stories about guardianship and financial management arrangements

Last week, ABC's Four Corners program looked at the guardianship system, sharing the stories of Australians under the control of trustee agencies.

The Disability Royal Commission wants to hear about people with disability who've been mistreated under trustee and guardianship arrangements.

We can support you, or your client, to share your story safely and privately. Call 1800 77 1800 for free, independent legal support.

Free resources for multicultural people with disability and supporters

Harmony Week is an annual celebration of Australia's cultural diversity held each year in March. It also coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which commemorates the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 in South Africa.

This Harmony Week, we want to raise awareness about our translated resources for multicultural people with disability and supporters. These include our service brochure, which is available in Arabic, Tagalog, Hindi, Mandarin (Simplified Chinese) and Vietnamese.

We've also translated our two animations into these languages and Auslan. You can watch Worried about sharing a story with the Disability Royal Commission? and Sharing your story with the Disability Royal Commission? on our website.

Australian Japanese communities can learn about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available thanks to Speak My Language, which recently interviewed bilingual Your Story team member Silva to produce a podcast in Japanese.

Please download, watch and share these resources with your networks to ensure multicultural communities can access our free support to safely share their stories with the Royal Commission.

Your Story in the community

Celebrating International Women's Day in Alice Springs

On 5 March, Your Story lawyer Amelia Gilroy attended the Equal Futures: An International Women's Day Fair at the Women's Museum of Australia in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

The event brought together female owned, focused and controlled organisations from across Central Australia. Amelia said: "I felt privileged to take part in an event that celebrated the strength, power and resilience of women.

"There was live music from local female artists, a panel discussion, food and market stalls and a smoking ceremony. I was lucky enough to meet with Alice locals and talk about how they can share their story with the Disability Royal Commission."

Reaching multicultural communities in regional New South Wales

Last week, Your Story team members travelled to Albury and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales to deliver information sessions to local multicultural communities alongside the Red Cross, Regional Disability Advocacy Service and the Disability Royal Commission.

Pictured is our ACT lawyer Danny Philippa speaking to Albury's Nepalese community about how we can support people to safely share their stories and ideas for change with the Royal Commission.

Upcoming events

25 March - Webinar for community workers: Multicultural stories matter

On Friday 25 March, join Your Story Disability Legal Support and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance for a conversation about multiculturalism, disability and the Disability Royal Commission.

26-27 March - Meet Disability Royal Commission support services at the Source Kids Disability Expo in Sydney

Your Story Disability Legal Support and Family Advocacy will be at the Source Kids Disability Expo to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available.

1-2 April - Meet Disability Royal Commission support services at the Melbourne Disability Expo

Your Story Disability Legal Support, Relationships Australia Victoria, Leadership Plus and Drummond Street Services will be at the Melbourne Disability Expo to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available.

5 April - Safety, gender and disability: Are we getting it right?

The Disability Royal Commission has highlighted that women, girls and LGBTIQA+ people with disability experience alarming rates of family, domestic and sexual violence. On Tuesday 5 April, join Your Story Disability Legal Support for an online discussion about safety, gender and disability, and the opportunity to share ideas for change with the Royal Commission.

29 April - Celebrate young carers and meet the Your Story team at the Sydney Young Carers Festival

Your Story Disability Legal Support will be raising awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at this annual event for young carers, special siblings, family and friends.

4-26 May - Your Story joins regional Victoria roadshow to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission

People with disability and their supporters living in regional Victoria can learn about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at a series of information sessions in May.

Disability Royal Commission news

Change starts with your story: Royal Commission launches national advertising campaign

Have you been hearing about the Disability Royal Commission over the airwaves, or spotted an ad in your local newspaper? The Royal Commission has launched a national advertising campaign to raise awareness about closing dates for the inquiry. 

You have until 30 June to register for a private session and until 31 December to make a submission, which can be in any language or format.

As well as providing free legal advice, we can support people to make a submission, prepare for and go to a private session, and connect with support services and other legal help.

Help us spread the word that "change starts with your story" by sharing the Royal Commission's video on Twitter and Facebook.


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