People with disability have a right to a fair wage, fully inclusive education, and to choose where we live and who we live with.
Right now we have an opportunity to tell the Disability Royal Commission that we need their support to end the segregation of people with disability in Australian schools, workplaces and homes.
How does the Disability Royal Commission work?
The Disability Royal Commission is tasked with investigating the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation perpetrated against disabled people in Australia.
After the Disability Royal Commission ends in April 2022, they will give their recommendations for changes and reform to the government.
Anyone can write (or record on video or audio file) a submission talking about their experiences, or incidents they have witnessed, and send it to the Disability Royal Commission at any time before it ends.
A submission can be long or short and in any language (including Auslan). It doesn’t have to be a formal or complicated document and it’s okay if you don’t remember all the details. You can tell your story in your own way and in your own words.
You can also provide a submission by calling 1800 517 199 and talking to someone on the phone.
This is a chance for people with disability to be heard, and to influence policy going forward.
Why do we need to end segregation?
The everyday reality for many people with disability is one of inequality and discrimination. Many of us are separated from the rest of the community by law, policy and practice frameworks that enable ‘special’ segregated arrangements.
Eight disability representative and advocacy organisations have made a joint submission to the Disability Royal Commission calling for an end to the segregation of people with disability in schools, workplaces and housing. The submission has now been endorsed by over 50 organisations and 150 individuals.
The submission goes into a lot of detail on;
- the limitations of special schools, and how their existence perpetuates discrimination in the mainstream education system;
- the exploitative nature of work practices that allow people with disability to be paid below minimum wage; and
- the dangerous situations that can arise when your landlord also controls your meals, activities and essential support services.
You can read the full submission here (including easy read and plain English versions).
How can you be heard?
While it’s important that disability organisations make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission, it is even more important that the voices of individual people with disability be heard.
We encourage people who have experienced (or witnessed) violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation of disabled people as a result of segregated school, work or living situations to tell your story to the Disability Royal Commission.
You might like to tell your story to the Disability Royal Commission if:
- you were not properly supported to go to a mainstream school, so a special school became your only option and your education was neglected,
- you were advised by Disability Employment Service to accept a job where you were then paid $2-3 per hour,
- a lack of accessible housing, or available support to live independently, meant you had to live in a group home where you did not get to choose where you lived or who you lived with.
Some questions to think about:
If you went to a special school, what did that mean for your opportunities later in life?
What were the barriers to attending a mainstream school?
What would have made a mainstream school fully accessible and inclusive for you?
If you have been underpaid for work you have done, who underpaid you and how did they justify it?
What would a good, accessible job look like for you?
If you have lived in a group home, or other segregated living situation, what sorts of rules or restrictions did you live with?
Were there problems with any of the support workers or the other people living there?
What sort of support would you need to live independently in the community?
What should change in the future so people with disability are not segregated, and are included in every part of community life?
Need some help?
Talking about violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation can be difficult and emotional. If you decide to make a submission, or just want some advice, there is free support available, including free advocacy, counselling and legal advice.
You can look for other organisations in your area using a government tool called the Disability Advocacy Finder. There is now a website specifically for West Australians with disability to connect with local advocacy groups.
You can get free emotional support from the Blue Knot Foundation. Their counselling and referral service is available for anyone affected by the Disability Royal Commission.
Call the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468. They can help you with:
- support with how you’re feeling about the Disability Royal Commission,
- support for making choices about telling your story,
- information about other ways to get practical support.
– Legal Advice
You can get free legal support from the Your Story Disability Legal Service. Call them on 1800 771 800 between 9.15am and 5.15pm (AEDT).
The person on the phone will explain how to tell your story to the Royal Commission. If you need advice from a lawyer, they will help you make an appointment and a legal expert will call you back. You can talk to them about about things like:
- Your legal rights,
- Naming a person or organisation in your story or submission,
- What to do if any part of your story is covered by a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement that you have signed,
- What to do if you are worried about someone trying to punish you for telling your story, like by denying you or someone else access to services,
- What to do if you want your story or submission, or parts of it, to be kept private.
– Other Services
1800 RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. (1800 737 732)
Lifeline has 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. (13 11 14)
Mensline is a telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. (1300 789 978)
Kids Helpline is a free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. (1800 551 800)
Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline is a dedicated FACS contact line for Aboriginal victims of crime who would like information on victims rights, how to access counselling and financial assistance. (1800 019 123)
People who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or have a speech impairment can use the National Relay Service (NRS) to call any of these services. Please phone 133 677.
If you need support in another language please use the free of charge Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450.