The Disability Royal Commission (DRC) into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with a disability was established in 2019 in response to increasing community concerns. The DRC has been extended due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions and the identified issue of low submission numbers. The DRC will now accept submissions up to 31st December 2022.
Strengthened privacy protections address concerns of unintended legal implications and provide reassurance for anyone contemplating a submission to the DRC.
A significant number of clients require ongoing support as they transition from intent to completion of a submission to the DRC and this process can extend over a considerable time frame.
As the client engage with the advocate sharing stories of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation, trust is established and the relationship grows. It is all too common that this person faces other issues (tenancy, NDIS, mental health, DSP) and the advocate will seek to refer to specialists in whatever field is appropriate. As an active participant organisation of the DRC network, referrals to counselling through Relationships Australia and legal checks through Your Story Disability Legal Support are readily available and frequently used. The advocate works to ensure a holistic and complete support is provided throughout the DRC submission journey and beyond.
The DRC attended Western Australia for the first time in March 2022 despite a short lead in time some private sessions were achieved. Covid-19 protocols impacted on the private sessions format, participants were able to select face-to-face, phone conference or teleconference. With advocate support, the clients identified the most appropriate format and navigate interactions with the private sessions team. Unfortunately, the DRC announced duration in Western Australia was not completed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 within the team.
A significant response from clients after the private session was that they felt heard and empowered by the experience and that the considerable effort required to make a submission to the DRC was worthwhile for them.
The DRC advocacy team has been actively engaged in raising awareness of the DRC attended 13 events during the FY 2022, including peer support groups and community events. The team provided information to small groups of service providers, not-for-profit and government organisations to raise awareness that they can share with their extended networks. Attending community events provided the opportunity for the DRC advocacy team to interact directly with community members and provide information to potential audience of 103,625.
Ongoing community outreach activities highlight knowledge and understanding of the DRC continues to be at a very low level in the community. Providing information on the antecedents of the Disability Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with a disability and updating community member with information on the process and goals of the DRC frequently, elicits a strong response. While community members express concern and may share examples they have observed of violence, abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a person with disability or older community member, the step to make a submission to the DRC is frequently not part of their thought process. Within the disability community, DRC knowledge levels are low and there is frequently a lack of motivation to make a submission. For many people knowledge, understanding and personal experience fail to trigger the will make a submission response. The DRC advocacy team continue working to counteract this sentiment while simultaneously informing, empowering, and supporting clients.
Internal referrals continue to be a significant pathway for clients wishing to make a submission to the DRC with individual disability advocacy support, tenant advocacy and disability discrimination making referrals. The DRC advocate will network to establish strong working relationships with existing services within Sussex Street Community Law Services to ensure a smooth transition for clients.
Planning for a DRC outreach and awareness building road trip, targeting smaller centres as well as including regional hubs in the Southwest, is underway. The DRC advocacy team maintains its focus on connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities and individuals and building strong links with the culturally and linguistically diverse members of our community.
If you would like to get in touch with us call (08) 6253 9500 Monday to Friday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Our TTY number is (08) 9470 2831.
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