People with disability and their supporters who want a private session with the Disability Royal Commission have two weeks to register from today.
The Royal Commission is holding private sessions as part of its investigation into the mistreatment of people with disability and will close registration on 30 June as it prepares to hand down a final report to government next year.
Your Story Disability Legal Support (Your Story) is a national service that gives free, independent legal advice and support to people considering taking part in the Disability Royal Commission.
“Private sessions are a chance to speak directly with a Commissioner about the violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation you, or a person you care about, may have experienced,” said Your Story Director Susannah O’Reilly.
“As the name suggests, private sessions are a private way to share a story with the Royal Commission. Information you share will be kept confidential for 99 years.
“Private sessions also give you special protections, which prevent someone using information you’ve shared against you in court and makes it illegal to hurt or disadvantage you.”
Ms O’Reilly said a Your Story lawyer can give clients free legal advice about their situation and support them to register for a private session by the 30 June deadline.
“We can also work with you to prepare for and attend your private session,” she said.
“You will still have the chance to make a submission until the end of the year, but we know that many people prefer to share their story by speaking directly with a Commissioner, and this may be an accessible option that works well for them.”
Your Story is funded by the Australian Government and delivered through Legal Aid Commissions and community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services in each state and territory.
Your Story National Coordinator and Wirangu/Kokatha woman, Ruth Miller, said these services are available to support Indigenous people to share their stories in a culturally safe way.
“This Royal Commission is an opportunity to advocate for change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with disability,” she said.
“Our goal is to support people with disability, and their family, friends, carers and advocates, to share their stories and ideas for change in a safe and informed way.”
Ms Miller added that Your Story is independent and separate from the Royal Commission.
“We can talk you through what the Royal Commission is all about, give you free legal advice, and support you to share your story in a way that helps protect you from any people or organisations that you want to complain about,” she said.
“We also have a wide referral network to put you in touch with free counselling and advocacy support and help with other legal problems you might have, such as NDIS.”
Ms O’Reilly acknowledged that sharing stories of mistreatment can be a daunting prospect, emphasising that there are many different ways to take part in the Disability Royal Commission and support, including free counselling, is available.
“If you do miss the private session registration deadline on 30 June, there is still time and other ways you can take part in the Disability Royal Commission. Call us on 1800 77 1800 and we can discuss your options with you,” she said.
Contact Your Story Disability Legal Support on 1800 77 1800 (free call) or visit the website for other ways to get in touch: yourstorydisabilitylegal.org.au/Contact-us
People can also apply directly to the Disability Royal Commission for a private session. Further information is online at disability.royalcommission.gov.au/share-your-story/apply-private-session.