By April Murphy
There is now an opportunity for people wanting to tell their stories about living with a disability.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability offers free legal help and information through a website that has just been launched.
In Australia, royal commissions are the highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance. Recent inquiries and reports have shown that people with disability are more likely to experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation than people without disability.
What is learnt from the commission will help to inform local governments, institutions and the wider community on how to prevent, and better protect people with disability from experiencing these situations in the future.
National Legal Aid Chair Brendan Thomas said the new Disability Royal Commission Legal Service website will help ensure people and their families or carers can access free independent advice about engaging with the organisation.
“The Disability Royal Commission Legal Service is a free national legal service providing information and advice to people wanting to participate in the Royal Commission,” Mr Thomas said.
“It is independent from the Disability Royal Commission and is a joint initiative between National Legal Aid and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.”
The Disability Royal Commission Legal Service will give priority to people with disability (as well as those engaging on their behalf) in particular those who:
• are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
• are from a culturally and linguistically diverse background
• who identify with LGBTIQ+
• Live-in institutions such as care facilities and prisons or detention centres.
“The website is a one-stop-shop for information about how to get legal help and making a submission to the Royal Commission and provides links to support services such as counselling and referral services, help to prepare submissions, or financial help with appearing before the commission,” Mr Thomas said.
A submission is the main way people and organisations can provide information to the Royal Commission about their experiences of violence, neglect, abuse or exploitation of people with disability. Anybody can make a submission. A submission can be submitted in any way you feel comfortable – by telephone, email or through the website.
On 5 April 2019, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and Minister for Families and Social Services, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, announced the establishment of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
The Disability Royal Commission wants to hear from all Australians about their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
People can access the Disability Royal Commission Legal Service online www.drclegalservice.org.au or by phone: 1800 771 800 Monday to Friday from 9.15am to 5.15pm (AEDT).