Australia’s Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Disability Royal Commission) was established in April 2019.
The Disability Royal Commission is investigating:
- Preventing and better protecting people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation;
- Achieving best practice in reporting, investigating and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability;
- Promoting a more inclusive society that supports people with disability to be independent and live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Your Story Disability Legal Support (Your Story) is a free, independent legal service that supports people to engage with the Disability Royal Commission.
Funded by the Australian Government and delivered by National Legal Aid and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Your Story has lawyers in every state and territory.
Your Story empowers people with disability – as well as their families, carers, supporters and advocates – to safely share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission and connect with local support services. Their team works in partnership with communities to deliver a person centred, trauma-informed and culturally safe legal service.
Hiran Lecamwasam, a lawyer at Your Story, said the service works with people to help them to decide how they want to tell their story, support them to make a submission, and provide general legal advice and information.
“We can also connect them with other free services – including counselling and advocacy supports,” he said.
“If there’s something we can’t help with, we will refer that person to another service that may be able to help.”
Why a person may require legal support before sharing their story with the Disability Royal Commission
Hiran said not everyone would require legal support before sharing their story with the Disability Royal Commission. However, a person may have concerns about their safety, or about whether sharing their story will impact their access to services or employment.
“Someone may want to name a person or organisation that hurt or mistreated them, but they’re worried about some form of retribution or payback,” Hiran said.
“They may have signed a document that says that they can’t talk about what happened. Or, they may have some ongoing legal proceedings and be worried that sharing their story could have an impact on that.
“This is why it can be helpful to speak to one of our lawyers to ensure that you are sharing your story safely.
Why sharing experiences with the Disability Royal Commission is important
Sharing experiences of disability with the Disability Royal Commission is important to ensure that it understands the various challenges, complexities, barriers and types of mistreatment that people with disability face, so it can promote positive change for people with disability.
The Disability Royal Commission will deliver a final report to the Australian Government by 29 September 2023, recommending how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society.
There is still time to engage with the Disability Royal Commission to share your experiences and Your Story is available and ready to help.
You can ask Your Story for advice about issues including:
- How to share your story
- Disclosing the name of an organisation or person
- How to keep your story private
- What to do if you have a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement that says you can’t share your story
- What to do if you are concerned about the potential impact that sharing your story may have – and whether it may affect your rights or cause you or someone else to be unsafe or lose access to services or employment.
You can call Your Story on 1800 771 800 Monday to Friday or visit yourstorydisabilitylegal.org.au.