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Your Story Disability Legal Support update—Issue 9, November 2021

In this edition, we reflect on our second birthday celebration, welcome a new Advisory Group member, let you know about our many upcoming events (including a privacy protections webinar happening today), and much more.

Message from our Director

Firstly, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being a Your Story supporter and for working with us to ensure people with disability, as well as their family, friends, carers and advocates, can safely share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission.

Whether you’ve helped us to deliver services, made a referral, joined a webinar, shared our resources, or simply read one of our newsletters, you’ve contributed to the success of Your Story.

As you may be aware, the service recently turned two and we’ve been busy celebrating this shared milestone with our staff and many partners.

We’ve created a short animation highlighting some of our achievements, which we invite you to share with your networks. You can watch the animation on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

We also spoke to the AAP and ABC about increased demand for our free legal support, and why we’re encouraging more people to come forward for advice.

Demand for disability legal advice doubles.

From a lightning speed service set up to a global pandemic, we’ve encountered many challenges in the short time we’ve been running.

I’m proud of the way our team has adapted and shaped Your Story into what it is today – a national legal service with staff in every state and territory who deliver a trauma-informed and accessible service and raise vital awareness about the Disability Royal Commission.

Our work wouldn’t be possible without you and we can’t thank you enough for your support.

With just under two years to go until the Royal Commission delivers its final report, and new privacy protections for participants, we’re excited to continue working with you towards creating a more inclusive, just Australia.

You can read more highlights from our first two years on our website.

With gratitude,
Susannah O'Reilly, Director

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about the new Disability Royal Commission privacy protections, we invite you to join our free webinar for people with disability and supporters today. This webinar will include Auslan and live captions and you can watch it on Facebook or GoToWebinar.

Advisory Group update

The Advisory Group was established to guide our service design and delivery, providing expertise and advice, facilitating suggestions and feedback from the disability community, and sharing information about our service.

The group meets twice a year and is made up of people who represent each state and territory and a cross-section of the disability community. At the October meeting (our final for 2021), the Advisory Group welcomed it newest member, Dr Kirsten Harley.

Kirsten is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy and a Board Member of MNDNSW. She brings with her impressive policy, research, and academic experience.

A self-described “passive activist” for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Kirsten was diagnosed with the disease in 2013. She has appeared before the Disability Royal Commission, has her own blog, and has written for the ABC about life during lockdown.

Kirsten’s media and communications expertise was well utilised during the meeting where the primary topic of discussion was effective communication strategies for the disability community.

Your Story would like to extend a warm welcome to Kirsten, as well as a big congratulations to her fellow Advisory Group member, Margherita Coppolino. At the 2021 Victorian Disability Awards in September, Margherita received a lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the disability community in Victoria and throughout Australia.

Your Story would like to thank all Advisory Group members for their enthusiastic participation in the October meeting and their ongoing commitment to our service. We look forward to applying the group’s advice going into and throughout 2022.

Visit our website to learn more about the Advisory Group.

Focus on Ability Film Festival winners announced

Your Story is proud to be a sponsor of the 2021 Focus on Ability Film Festival, a short film festival that aims to raise awareness about the abilities of people with disability.

This year, there were 264 finalists from 22 countries vying for over $100,000 in cash and prizes. Focus on Ability hosted a virtual awards show on 27 October and we were blown away by the quality and creativity of the entries.

You can watch the awards show on Focus on Ability’s YouTube channel. We hope you find the short films as entertaining, moving and inspiring as we did!

Upcoming events

October was another busy month for Your Story staff who attended events across the country. Pictured above are staff from Your Story and partner organisations at the Fraser Coast Regional Disability Expo in Hervey Bay (Qld), Mental Health Week events in Queenstown (Tas) and Perth (WA), the Brisbane Disability Expo in Brisbane (Qld), and the Disability, Ageing and Lifestyle Expo in Adelaide (SA).

Visit the events section on our website to view all of our upcoming events or see some highlights below.

4 November – It’s safer to share your story: Webinar for people with disability and supporters

It’s safer to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission. Find out more at this free lunchtime webinar with Your Story Disability Legal Support. This event will include Auslan and live captions.

5 November – Disability Royal Commission information workshop for Brisbane LGBTI communities

Are you a member of the LGBTI community living with disability in Brisbane? Join us for a discussion about living with disabilities and ways to improve the lives of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities. Visit our website to find out more about this workshop.

9 and 17 November – Meet Your Story’s Tasmania team at The Disability Expo

Tasmanians can meet their local Your Story team and learn more the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available at The Disability Expo, which is being held in Burnie on 9 November and Hobart on 17 November.

9 November – Your Story joins multicultural seniors celebration in Perth

Your Story Disability Legal Support will be at the Multicultural Seniors’ Festival to raise awareness about the Disability Royal Commission and the free supports available to people with disability and their supporters.

13-14 November – Meet Disability Royal Commission support services at the Source Kids Disability Expo Brisbane

Your Story and local partner Micah Projects will have a stall at the Source Kids Disability Expo, which

18 November – Get on the record with Eva Sifis and Disability Royal Commission support services

Join us to discover Eva Sifis’ story of living with an acquired brain injury and how you can get free support to share yours with the Disability Royal Commission. This free online event is being hosted by Your Story Disability Legal Support, Relationships Australia Victoria and Leadership Plus.

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

Community workers can find out more about the Disability Royal Commission and Your Story’s free legal support at this webinar hosted by Legal Aid Queensland. Visit our website to register for this event.

3 December – Celebrate the “fearless and fabulous” disability community with Your Story Disability Legal Support

On the International Day of People with Disability, Your Story will hold a free one-hour online event featuring three panellists from the disability community, who will share their perspectives on disability, inclusion and the Disability Royal Commission.

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 in December. Your Story Disability Legal Support 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.

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 in December. Your Story Disability Legal Support 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.

Event recap: Reaching regional and remote NSW

On 6 October, Your Story presented to the New England North West Services Provider Network with our partner Disability Advocacy NSW. The network is made up of over 100 cross-community organisations, which have responsibility for a huge and geographically dispersed region in New South Wales.

Our presentation provided an overview of the Disability Royal Commission, our services, and how we can work with the network to support clients to safely share their story. It was well received, and Your Story was invited to be a part of the network going forward to keep members up to date on the Royal Commission.

If you’d like to arrange an information session with Your Story, or partner with us on an event, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with our Stakeholder Relations Manager Fiona today.

Disability Royal Commission news

Police responses to people with disability

A research report commissioned by the Royal Commission has found justice systems across Australia may enable, rather than prevent, mistreatment. Other evidence suggests many people with disability have contact with police due to their disadvantaged circumstances and inability to access effective social services.

Your Story contributed to the report, Police responses to people with disability, which draws on extensive research and consultations with the disability community to outline alternative models and practices to improve police responses. You can find the full report on the Royal Commission's website.

Public hearing 17: The health and safety of women and girls with disability

On October 13 and 14, the Royal Commission held part one of public hearing 17, which examined evidence of domestic and sexual violence experienced by women and girls with disability, including those who identify as L(G)BTIQ+.

Over two days, Commissioners heard from expert witnesses and disability advocates who presented alarming statistics and research, including:

  • 90% of women with intellectual disability have experienced sexual abuse.
  • Almost 1 in 4 girls with disability reported experiencing abuse.
  • In the first three months of the pandemic, 8.6 per cent of women with disability had experienced choking or strangulation by their partners.
  • Girls as young as seven have been sterilised and there is a lack of data on how decisions for sterilisation are made.
  • First Nations women with disability are "invisible" and there is a lack of services to support them.

Part two of public hearing 17 is expected to take place in Hobart from 28 March to 1 April. It will further examine the experiences of women and girls with disability, with a particular focus on family, domestic and sexual violence.

Public hearings are just one way to share a story with the Disability Royal Commission. Contact Your Story Disability Legal Support on 1800 77 1800 to discuss your options.


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