Demand for disability legal advice doubles
Demand for legal advice for those considering sharing their stories to the Disability Royal Commission has almost doubled in two years, new data shows.
Almost 3000 calls, emails and web inquiries were received in 2020/21 by Your Story Disability Legal Support, a national service providing free advice about taking part in the commission
This is compared to just over 1500 the previous financial year.
"With just under two years to go until the royal commission delivers its final report, and new privacy protections for participants, there's never been a better time to speak to one of our lawyers about sharing your story," director Susannah O'Reilly said.
Recent changes to the Royal Commissions Act make it possible for stories of harm or other mistreatment to remain confidential beyond the life of the inquiry.
Previously, these stories had the potential to be accessed through Freedom of Information requests when the commission ended in September 2023.
"Now people with disability and their supporters can safely and confidently share sensitive stories knowing they will be protected beyond the life of the royal commission," Senior Solicitor Sifa Mtango said.
A Sydney man living with post-traumatic stress disorder, speaking under the pseudonym Mark, received advice before sharing his story of feeling hopeless and isolated while dealing with service providers.
He wanted to name specific people and organisations, so a lawyer recommended giving details in a private session to afford extra legal protections.
The lawyer also worked with Mark so he could tell his story "safely, confidently and without exposing himself to legal risk".
Your Story Disability Legal Support is an independent service separate from the Disability Royal Commission and funded by the federal government.
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails