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The Australian Government is funding free and independent counselling, as well as advocacy, legal and financial supports for people engaging with or affected by the Disability Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission) will run for three years, or until 2022. Even if you are not interacting directly with the Royal Commission inquiry, there will be much focus on the public hearings and other processes of the inquiry in the media and political sphere and this may have an impact on people with disability living with trauma or other conditions associated with violence, abuse or neglect.

People with disability, their families and carers who are affected by the machinations of the Royal Commission, including those making submissions to the Royal Commission, are entitled to access counselling, advocacy, legal advice and financial assistance services.

The Royal Commission held its first public hearing, in Townsville from Monday 4 November to Thursday 7 November 2019. The subject of the hearing was education, which included the following topics:  

  • Inclusiveness in education as it relates to students with disability; and
  • The implementation of existing policies and procedures relating to inclusive education of students with a disability, with a focus on the Queensland government education system.

The Royal Commission published responses to its Education and Learning issues paper on August 13, 2020. Royal Commission Chair Ronald Sackville AO said many of the responses received were thoughtful, detailed and carefully documented.

"We have been told that bullying is a prevalent and serious issue for students with a disability, in particular students with autism, who report significantly higher levels of physical and verbal abuse than their peers without autism. We have also been told about a lack of resources, supports and training for educators and a lack of adjustments and individualised supports for students with disability."

IDEAS has prepared a separate blog with details of further issues paper the Royal Commission is seeking comment on.

You can also visit: disabilityroyalcommission.gov.au

National Counselling and Referral Service

Blue Knot Foundation provides free counselling services for people with disability, their families and carers, and anyone affected by the Disability Royal Commission.

This service can offer support for your emotional wellbeing, support for making choices about telling your story (especially in regards to making a submission to the Royal Commission), as well as information or other practical supports available.

This service is available between 9 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday or 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. 

If you are currently experiencing any form of violence or abuse, or are concerned for your safety, call emergency services on Triple Zero (000).

Phone: 1800 421 468 or 02 6146 1468

National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP)

Further, the Australian Government has extended the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) to include individual advocacy services for people who need additional support to engage with the Disability Royal Commission.

Advocacy support is for people with disability (or family members or carers acting on their behalf) who may have difficulty in communicating or understanding how to engage with the Commission.

An advocate will be able to help people with disability to understand how to tell their story to the Disability Royal Commission, how to work out problems or avoid discriminatory issues, find communication supports such as interpreters, and access other supports such as legal or financial services.

To find an advocate in your area, you can use the Disability Advocacy Finder tool on the Department of Social Services website.

Visit: disabilityadvocacyfinder.dss.gov.au

National Legal Advisory Service

National Legal Aid (NLA) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) will provide free and independent legal advice to people with disability, and their families, carers, supporters and advocates and will be able to explain your legal rights and the options available to engage with the Royal Commission, including by making a submission, participating in a community forum, providing evidence at a hearing and sharing information about your experiences.

This service will also be able to make referrals to counselling and other support services where appropriate. The full service is currently in development. In the meantime, NLA has established a telephone helpline to provide procedural information on how to engage with the Royal Commission, including how to make a voluntary submission. Through the telephone helpline, NLA is also registering the details of people interested in accessing legal advice about engaging with the Royal Commission, so that they can be contacted as soon as the full legal advisory service is available.

The helpline can be called for free between 9.15 am and 5.15 pm.

Phone: 1800 771 800 

Financial Assistance

The Australian Government is also funding legal financial assistance to individuals and organisations to assist with meeting the costs of legal representation and disbursements associated with engaging with the Royal Commission. This scheme is available from the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department.

Legal financial assistance will be provided for an individual and may be provided to a business or organisation, for their reasonable legal representation and disbursement costs resulting from:

  • being called, or granted leave to appear, as a witness at a hearing of the Royal Commission, or
  • being requested to attend, or attending an interview of the Royal Commission, or
  • complying with a notice to give information or a statement in writing that will be used as evidence in the Royal Commission, and/or
  • complying with a notice to produce issued by the Royal Commission, and
  • where the entity, excluding an individual, would not able to meet these costs without incurring serious financial hardship.

The Attorney General Department’s Financial Assistance Section is available on the telephone number or email address below (between 8.30 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday), and application forms can be downloaded from the Department's website.

Download: Application form 
Phone: 1800 177 955
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Information sourced from the Department of Social Services