Main content anchor

Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 13, April 2022

In this edition, we invite you to join us for tomorrow's webinar about autism and employment, which will feature two prominent Autistic women as guest speakers. We also let you know about new resources and our many upcoming events, and share the latest updates from the Disability Royal Commission.

A message from Your Story lawyer Josie

In recent weeks, the focus has been on women with disability, in particular, those who've experienced violence.

During public hearing 17.2 from 28 March to 1 April, we heard some horrific stories about sexual, domestic and family violence against women with disability. We also witnessed the strength of those same women who were willing to share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission in a fight for change. The bravery of those women and their harrowing stories helped shine much-needed light on some of the darkest corners of our society.

Following the public hearing, I was privileged to facilitate a discussion with Heidi La Paglia Reid, the Director of Policy and Programs at Women With Disabilities Australia, and Deborah Thomson, a woman with disability and a domestic violence survivor and advocate. Heidi and Deb kindly gave up their time to share their many insightful ideas and recommendations to ensure the safety of women, girls, non-binary and feminine identifying people with disability. The relentless advocacy of these two women is remarkable and being in the same room as them, even virtually, was empowering. If you missed the webinar, I encourage you to watch it on our YouTube channel.

As a Your Story lawyer based at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service in Tasmania, which has the highest rate of disability in Australia, I have witnessed the barriers that people with disability face daily. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability often face multiple barriers.

I also practise in employment law and have seen that workplaces can be rife with bias, discrimination and barriers for people with disability. These issues will be explored tomorrow (Friday 29 April) during the latest edition of our monthly webinar series, Wanted: Meaningful employment for Autistic people. I am very much looking forward to hearing from our guest speakers Elise Muller and Tammy McGowan.

Elise is an Indigenous elite athlete and autism advocate on the autism spectrum, who is widely regarded as one of Australia's leading change-makers in autism. Elise's achievements include becoming AFL's first Disability Ambassador Player and founding Active Support, a social enterprise for at-risk people with disability. As a proud First Nations Australian, part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and an elite athlete in mainstream sport, with lived experience of autism and mental health, Elise will bring a unique, multifaceted insight to the conversation about autism and employment.

Tammy is Autistic and has raised two Autistic children. She wears many hats including Your Story Advisory Group member and project officer at both the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand, and Autism CRC Sylvia Rodger Academy. Tammy is based in South Australia and has over 14 years' experience working in the community services sector, with a focus on disability advocacy, social inclusion and trauma informed and person-centred practice.

The lunchtime webinar will be facilitated by my Your Story colleagues Hiran Lecamwasam and Mikele Prestia. Please join us on Friday for this important conversation.

Your story matters and together we can create an inclusive society where everyone feels they belong.

Josie Short, Your Story lawyer

New resources for multicultural communities and supporters

Do you support a person with disability who speaks Kiswahili? Listen to this podcast episode from Speak My Language Disability featuring our senior lawyer Sifa Mtango.

She explains in Kiswahili that free legal, counselling and advocacy support is available to people interested in sharing their stories and ideas for change with the Disability Royal Commission.

Don't forget there's also an episode in Japanese featuring Your Story team member Silva Osaki.

Last month, more than 40 people tuned in for a conversation about multiculturalism, disability and the Disability Royal Commission during Harmony Week.

Sifa hosted the discussion with Blanca Ramirez, a multicultural woman with disability and Senior Research and Policy Officer at the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA).

They talked about the insights multicultural communities can bring to the Royal Commission, as well as the barriers they face, and how community workers can help to address these.

The webinar was co-hosted with NEDA and also recognised the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. You can watch it on our YouTube channel.

Your Story featured on Triple J's Hack

"We need more focus on disability, especially those experiencing abuse in the home." 

In this interview with Triple J's Hack program, our client Deborah Thomson talks about why she made a submission to the Disability Royal Commission, and the support she received from Your Story Disability Legal Support.

Your Story Director Susannah O'Reilly was also interviewed, along with Heidi La Paglia Reid, Your Story Advisory Group member and Director of Policy and Programs at Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), and Tess Moodie from WWDA.

The story aired on 28 March, which was the first day of public hearing 17.2 into the experiences of women and girls with disability.

Your Story in the community

Melbourne Disability Expo

After two years of cancelled events and working from home, including a record-breaking 263 days in lockdown, Your Story's Victoria team was excited to join other disability service providers at the Melbourne Disability Expo earlier this month.

"It was great to attend the Melbourne Disability Expo and connect with people in person for the first time in a long time," said Your Story lawyer Michelle Bowler (pictured right).

"We shared a booth with some other fantastic Disability Royal Commission support services: Leadership Plus, Drummond Street Services and Relationships Australia Victoria.

"Together we were able to talk to people about all the supports available when you want to share a story with the Disability Royal Commission. The expo was well attended, and we provided lots of people with information along with stress balls and hand sanitiser!"

Check out this great video from the expo featuring Your Story lawyer Anna Potter and John McKenna from Drummond Street Services.

Inner West Disability Pride Festival

A collage with a photo of Your Story lawyer Jack standing behind the Your Story stall; and a photo of Your Story team member Fiona McLean speaking into a microphone during a panel discussion at the Inner West Disability Pride Festival.

On 9 April, Your Story Disability Legal Support joined a colourful celebration of people with disability in Sydney. The 2022 Inner West Pride Festival was held in Newtown and featured music, dance, arts, crafts and speakers.

Fiona McLean (pictured top right), a woman with disability and Your Story team member, took part in a panel discussion about celebrating disability culture and its positive contributions to society.

At Your Story's stall, festivalgoers could take part in a group submission by writing an anonymous message to the Disability Royal Commission.

"People could also choose a take home pack, which contained some art materials to create an artwork expressing their message to the Royal Commission," said Your Story lawyer Jack (pictured top left).

28 April - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Bundaberg

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Bundaberg? You are invited to a free information session (Bundaberg) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

29 April - Wanted: Meaningful employment for Autistic people

Join us for a conversation about autism, employment and the Disability Royal Commission with two proud Autistic women, Elise Muller and Tammy McGowan.

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 in Sydney for local young carers, special siblings, family and friends.

3 May - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Mt Isa

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Mt Isa? You are invited to a free information session (Mt Isa) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

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.

5 May - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Hughenden

 

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Hughenden? You are invited to a free information session (Hughenden) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

10 May - Your Story monthly webinar series: Multiculturalism and disability

Hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support, this lunchtime webinar will feature three guest speakers who will share their insights and offer practical tips and advice on supporting people with disability from multicultural backgrounds.

18 May - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Cairns

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Cairns? You are invited to a free information session (Cairns) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

19 May - Your Story Disability Legal Support to offer support to people experiencing homelessness in Brisbane

Homeless Connect is a one-day event that brings together people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with local community groups and businesses available to provide free services.

20 May - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Townsville

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Townsville? You are invited to a free information session (Townsville) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

28 May - Your Story to deliver a free information session for people with disability and supporters in Rockhampton

Are you a person with disability or a supporter living in Rockhampton? You are invited to a free information session (Rockhampton) about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to you.

30 May - Webinar: Navigating the NDIS

Hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support and Legal Aid NSW's NDIS team, this webinar is designed to help people understand how to navigate the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

3 June - Celebrate young carers and meet the Your Story team at the Victoria 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 in Melbourne for local young carers, special siblings, family and friends.

Disability Royal Commission news

 Share your Omicron story before 29 April

The Disability Royal Commission is asking the public to share their views on the impact of, and responses to, the Omicron wave for people with disability.

The issues paper asks 14 questions to help people and organisations provide responses, which can be submitted electronically, in writing, by phone, or by video or audio recording.

You have until Friday 29 April to respond to the issues paper. After this date, any comments can be made via the submissions process. Visit the Royal Commission's website for more information about the issues paper, including in Auslan.

Australian Disability Enterprises under scrutiny

The Disability Royal Commission has heard that people with disability are being paid as little as $2.37 an hour in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE).

Former and current ADE employees and their family members were among the witnesses to give evidence at public hearing 22, which took place from 11-13 April.

Transcripts and videos from the hearing are now available on the Royal Commission's website.

Royal Commission announces new public hearings

Guardianship, education, homelessness, and First Nations experiences of the NDIS are among the wide range of themes the Disability Royal Commission will focus on at upcoming hearings.

The public hearing schedule has been updated with new hearings to be held both online and in person throughout the year. The location and timing of hearings is subject to change.

Private session deadline fast approaching

The countdown is on to the end of the Royal Commission, with about two months to go until private session registration closes (30 June), and eight months until submissions close (31 December).

For free, independent legal support to share your story or someone else's, call Your Story Disability Legal Support on 1800 77 1800 Monday to Friday or visit our website for other ways to get in touch.


Do you support a person with disability?

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter. We’ll keep you up to date on the latest news from Your Story, including upcoming events, new resources, and updates from the Disability Royal Commission.

Sign up