Counselling and advocacy support for the Disability Royal Commission

This session was part of the Advocacy Sector conversations forum held on Zoom on 2 March 2021.

 

Overview

The important work of the Disability Royal Commission is bringing to light the deeply rooted systemic abuse facing people with disability. As we have heard, the abuse is happening in all areas of life – in the home, in education and employment settings, and within the health and services systems. Almost more confronting than the abuse itself is the apparent indifference of people in power and the general public more broadly who have allowed the abuse to continue. Despite lifetimes of not being heard, people with disability are being asked to step up and tell their stories in the hope that this time they will be believed and that things will change. To do this, people with disability need support.

Dr Cathy Kezelman, President at Blue Knot Foundation and Mary Mallett, CEO of  Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA), talk about counselling,support and referral pathways and where advocacy fits into this crucial work.

 

 

Links to resources mentioned during the session can be found at the bottom of this post.

Audio & Transcript

 

MELISSA HALE:
My name is Melissa Hale and I am the Coordinator of the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lan on which we meet and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Once again we are delivering the Advocacy Sector Conversations Forum to you online.  We hope at some stage to be able to deliver the series face to face when it’s safe to do so in an inclusive and accessible way. However, we hope you have all settled in comfortably, and are ready for our fantastic series this week.

We encourage your active participation today. So please type your questions in the Q & A box and at the end of this session I will be facilitating a Q & A session with our presenter.

The first cab off the rank for this series is around counselling and advocacy support for the Disability Royal Commission. The important work of the Disability Royal Commission is bringing to light the deeply rooted systemic abuse facing people with disability. As we have heard, the abuse is happening in all areas of life, in the home, in education and employment settings and within the health and services systems.

Almost more confronting than the abuse itself, is the apparent indifference the people in power and the general public more broadly, who have allowed the abuse to continue. Despite lifetimes of not being heard, people with disability are being asked to step up and tell their stories in the hope that this time, they will be believed and that things will change.

To do this, people with disability need support. An let’s not forget the vicarious trauma that people supporting them to tell their story, often experience too.

To step us through what’s available, please welcome Dr Cathy Kezelman, President at Blue Knot Foundation and Mary Mallett, CEO of  Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)..

MARY MALLETT:
Hello Melissa. Would you like me to start now?

MELISSA HALE:
Yes.

MARY MALLETT:
Thank you. Apologies in advance. My internet connection is not very stable today so hopefully it keeps going.

So I’m Mary Mallett. I’m the CEO of DANA, Disability Advocacy Network Australia, that’s who DANA is, and we are [inaudible}for the next year and a half for the Royal Commission. I thought I’d just let you know who are the other national peaks that are funded by DSS, Department of Social Services, to do this work. DANA is funded for coordination activities which is slightly different to the expectations for the other organisations who are primarily funded for systemic advocacy on Royal Commission issues.

So Children and Young People with Disability Australia, that’s CYDA, and NEDA, that’s National Ethnic Disability Alliance, AFDO, Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, Women with Disability Australia, and First Peoples Disability Network and Inclusion Australia who are the representative organisation for people with intellectual disability and their families.

So that’s the group of national peaks that are funded to do this work. The other funding by DSS… DSS is funding the advocacy support and also the counselling support for the Royal Commission and Cathy Kezelman is going to talk to you about the counselling  after me.

So there are 50 of the advocacy organisations that are funded through the NDAP, the National Disability Advocacy Program, 50 of those around the country are funded for Royal Commission advocacy. And that funding is particularly to provide advocacy support for people with disability who want to tell their story to the Royal Commission.

Then there’s a group of disability specific national peaks who are funded through AFDO – Deaf Australia, Blind Citizens Australia, Downs Syndrome Australia and a number of others – who are funded to do some work with their cohort of disability. And there are 40 other smaller disabled peoples and families organisations and a few of the state funded advocacy organisations who are funded much smaller amounts, which is distributed through DANA. That’s about promoting the Royal Commission to their stakeholders and they’re doing quite a range of activities with their relatively small amounts of money.

But the advocacy funding what you’ll hear about mainly, is that funding to the NDAP organisations so the NDAP Royal Commission advocacy. So this is what that advocacy is for. So it’s primarily, of course, aimed at people with disability but it can be family members or carers who are acting with, or either, on behalf the person. And it’s for people who need assistance because they have difficulty in engaging with the Royal Commission themselves. They have problems with communicating, perhaps, or or understanding how to engage with the Commission.

The Royal Commission has a 1800 number. It has a team of people who can speak to people if they want to tell their story directly to the Royal Commission. And some people are very happy to do that. Generally the advocates are working with people who wouldn’t do that by themselves.

So an advocate would be able to help people understand how to tell their story to the Royal Commission, how to work out some of the problems or avoid some of the discriminatory issues they currently experiencing, find communication support, including interpreters if they require them, and access other supports, particularly legal and in some cases, financial services.

One of the things that has arisen, is that some of the people who come forward to the advocacy organisations to tell their story to the Royal Commission, may have existing, live, current advocacy issues that they need help with and that has been, and still is, a dilemma for advocacy organisations, many of whom are at capacity and have waiting lists. They have within the funding guidelines from DSS, they are allowed to work with those people on other advocacy issues but, it doesn’t mean they have the time to do it and anyway, that’s an ongoing issue for some of the advocates.

1,081 people were helped under this Royal Commission advocacy funding in 2020. That’s the figure from DSS through their data that they gather from the advocacy organisations. What we don’t know is how many of those people went on to make a submission. So some of them may have come to an advocate for help to write their story and tell it to the Royal Commission, and in the end, may have decided not to do that.

Now DSS can’t tell from their data about that. So we will be trying to find out from the advocacy organisations this year, of the people who come to you for advocacy assistance, how many end up putting in a submission into the Royal commission, and how many just make a decision that it’s really not for them, or just not the right timing, or don’t want to do it.

This Royal Commission is different from the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission because there is no redress scheme as part of this Commission so, certainly at the moment, there’s no sense that people will get recompensed financially in any way, for the harm that’s been done to them, that they tell the Royal Commission about.

So people are making the decision to tell their story because they want what happened to them, not to happen to other people. For some people that’s sufficient, and for other people they decide that it’s too hard and that they just choose not to do it.

One of the other things in the legal services that advocates can connect to is the other support service that is actually funded for the Royal commission is Your Story legal support. An that is funded by the Attorney General’s department, not by DSS, and that’s the Legal Aid run out of Sydney but it operates nationally through the Legal Aid Commissions and the national and the Aboriginal Legal Services.

When an advocate is working with someone to put their submission together, they can contact Your Story Legal Service and talk through with them, are there any potential legal ramifications out of the person telling their story.  In particular, if the person wants to name an individual or an organisation then it’s useful for them to get legal advice about what they should think about in making that decision. That’s what Your Story Legal Service will help them do.

The work that DANA has been doing on the Royal Commission is a lot to do with information provision. So on the DANA website there is lots of information and resources about the Royal Commission itself and how it’s working, but also we keep an eye on a whole lot of the work that the advocacy organisations are doing and we take these examples and put them up on the DANA website so that people can get a really good overview how the advocacy sector is working in relation to the Royal Commission.

We created a Slack channel for advocates so if you’re interested in being part of that, that’s one that is particularly around Royal Commission issues, you can contact Siobhan, Who is the Policy Officer at DANA at policy@dana.org.au to join that. And the same if you want to subscribe to our Royal Commission e-news. We have a separate, ordinary DANA e-news that comes out every now and then, but the Royal Commission e-news focusses just completely on Royal Commission issues.

The thing we do on social media is to try to keep sharing and make available as much as we can, the information about the Royal Commission issues on Facebook and Twitter.

Sorry I can see my internet is dropping in and out so I’m sorry if this is a bit disjointed…

The Royal Commission has put out their Interim Report. The word ‘advocacy’ was mentioned 224 times, and the word ‘advocate’ was mentioned 125 times so advocacy is recognised by the Royal Commission as being really important. And in their emerging themes in that report, one of those was advocacy and representation.

From the hearing on group homes, one of the themes mentioned there was ‘safety strategies such as developing networks and trusted relationships with a range of people outside of the closed environment as well as independent advocacy and self advocacy’.

This was one of their sections from the hearing on health services for people with disability and, again they mentioned the importance of strong advocacy in ensuring that people with cognitive disability are provided with a quality health care.

And in their area for further enquiry, they talked about the means by which people with cognitive disability, their family, carers and supporters can [inaudible].

Those are just examples that show in each area that the Royal Commission investigated, they are seeing is that advocacy plays an essential role.

We had a meeting with all the Commissioners and the senior staff at the Royal Commission before Christmas with all of the national peaks and they said they are going to pick up advocacy as one of the important issues they’ll look at. They weren’t completely clear about how they would do that, whether they would hold a specific hearing about advocacy or whether they would write a policy or an issues paper about it, but they do intend to look at it properly. So it’s really important this year that the advocacy sector puts forward to the Royal Commission, the potential solutions we can see that advocacy  can play.

Those last few point that I’ve got there are for all of you to think about. What do we want to see in the final Royal Commission report? What do we want to see in it about advocacy and where it sits in the future?

Obviously there’s going to be hundreds of recommendations about all of the other systems  and how people with disability are treated in all of the systems, but the ones I’m trying to focus on are the ones that are about advocacy and the funding of advocacy. And so we have to be able to, as a sector, we have to put forward some really good, clear solutions that the Royal Commission can pick up and grab as recommendations. So we have to be able to show how can, and how do, advocates prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and what is their role in the protection  and safeguarding of people. A huge question is how we meet the unmet need for advocacy and that is about what amount of funding is required and what models of advocacy are required.

You can see in the Final Report from the Aged Royal Care Commission which has just come out, and the Government came out immediately with an interim, very quick response about where they were putting some money and then they’ll pay attention and put other solution as well.

But, it would be good wouldn’t it, that when the Final Report for the Disability Royal Commission came out, it would be nice to see part of the immediate solution that Governments would spend money on would be to do with advocacy. I think that all the advocacy sector believes that that’s necessary but we have to frame it in the right way. And so for any of you who are listening today, or are interested in doing some thinking about how do we put together [inaudible].

Sorry I think I dropped out there again.

But what I’m suggesting is that any of you who are interested in doing any part of this work and thinking about these questions, about advocacy and the solutions we have to put forward, please get in touch with me at ceo@dana.org.au or get my details from Melissa. I would like us to be able to work together on some of the solutions.

And I think that’s all. And that slide is how to contact us through our website, Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks everyone.

Over to you Cathy.

MELISSA HALE:
Thank you Mary. Apologies everyone… the internet, what can we do…  But I’d like to introduce you now to Dr Cathy Kezelman from Blu Knot Foundation. Welcome Cathy.

DR CATHY KEZELMAN:
Thank you very much, it is great to follow Mary, Mary just has a lot of experience and a lot of wisdom in this space And is a great leader.

Looking at this light I am hoping the slides are going to be easy to read but anyway, look, our organisation was funded to one the national counselling and referral service.  That is quite a complicated name.  But it is a service to which people with disability who have experienced violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation or/are engaging in the disability Royal Commission can call.

Originally we were just set up to support people engaging with the Royal Commission but our scope has been extended since then.  Who can call?  People with disability, people who’ve been affected by COVID19 and only this has been an incredibly challenging time for us all with so much uncertainty with isolation, social distancing, lock down and we know many people are impacted by COVID.  If that is impacting you call the NCRS.

Obviously people engaging with, or effected by, the Royal Commission, experiencing  violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation either currently or in the past.  It is really quite a broad brush and we are glad to see a lot more people coming and linking in with our service.

The service isn’t only for people with disability with their own experiences but also people who support them in a range of ways.  Family members, carers, obviously advocates who we are speaking to today and thank you again for the invitation.

If you need a referral for someone you are supporting.  If you need just some basic information about trauma and how it can affect people because Blue Knot’s expertise is around complex trauma.  Repeated trauma usually between people which is experienced either as a child, a young person or an adult.  Often sadly, across the life cycle.

We also support support workers.  We have a lot of advocates calling and I will talk more about that later.  Also service providers, legal financial services.  All the different services that have been set up to support the disability Royal Commission as well as other services outside of that who may be engaging with people with disability.

We obviously are able to provide counselling but also referrals or warm transfers.  We know that many people using our service have many needs.  Often we spend a lot of time trying to find what are the best referrals and often a number of them are for people seeking our help.  We provide shortterm counselling and refer you on to longer term counselling if that is something you are seeking.

So these words sadly, these words are bandied around a lot.  Many of us know all too well what they mean.  I thought I would quickly outline the scope of what’s captured here.  So when talking about violence and abuse, it is a range of behaviours towards people from assault, sexual assault, restrictive practices that is chemical, physical, humiliation, harassment and of course financial and economic abuse.  As well as significant violations that many people with disability experience to their privacy and to their dignity.

In terms of neglect when we talk about neglect we talk about both emotional and physical neglect, what someone doesn’t receive and that can either be passive because of things that are just simply not done, basics needs that are not met.  Or it can be intentional.  This can be depriving a person of simple things but basic needs such as food and water, medical treatment, access, clothing, education.

By exploitation we mean when a person is taking advantage of another person.  Withholding basic needs, withholding their access to work and to education, to assets and taking advantage of them, including sexual, financial and economic advantage.

Sadly many many ways in which people can experience past or current violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

So what does the NCRS do.  Counselling is quite a fancy term but basically what it means is providing emotional support.  It is having a space where you can be listened to, heard, validated and believed.  We know that many people would have called the NCRS have felt that for the very first time they have been deeply listened to and that they have been met with where they are in the present.  What is it that they need right now?

Even though it is shortterm counselling, it is quite remarkable what one call to the service can mean for a lot of people.  Because sadly many people with disability have just not experienced that space of being  feeling safe and being able to share as much or as little as they choose.

Ours is a team based service which means that we have a number of counsellors who may pick up a call at any one time.  If people call a number of times they may speak to a different counsellor.  But we  the advantages of that are that that means that you have different experience with someone who’s very experienced in supporting people with trauma and disability and also some notes are shared internally within the team.  If someone has called before you don’t need to start again but you start from where you are on that day.

The team is informed by disability and attuned as much as possible to diversity.  We know as human beings we bring a range of experiences and barriers to full engagement.  We offer counselling for up to an hour a week and that can be in one session or it could be a number of times during the week.

Our services recently expanded to provide support to people in what we call closed institutions.  People in prison or in forensic mental health settings or in juvenile justice.  What we are finding is that as we are really starting to engage with people in those centres that it is again quite a remarkable experience of support and being heard that people have never experienced before.

For people who may have been in and out of those settings, just an understanding that maybe it is not about blaming themselves but understanding how their experiences of violence or abuse in the past have actually meant they haven’t had the skills to be able to live the life that every person deserves and needs.  We find we are able to provide the emotional support that allows people to see the possibility of something different.

A big part of what we do as well is provide referrals.  As I mentioned before, those referrals are as unique as we are as human beings, with all our different needs.  So we seek to find out what it is that would really help someone.  How we can help to refer to advocacy services for one wanting to make a submission to the commission or to consider making a submission.  People who may be ready to engage in longer term counselling.

Obviously ours is a shortterm service which can make a big difference in terms of showing the possibility of safety and trust but for people who want to explore things in the longer term that can be very helpful.  We also refer to the funded legal services and a whole range of other services, again depending on the great diversity of needs of people calling the service.

What has been great to see over the time the service is running is that really we are getting more and more people ringing every week.  So we are now up to over 150 calls a week.  As I say, many of those calls can be up to an hour plus all of the referrals and the warm transfers.  Supporting people to reach those other services because often people can be given the name and a number of a referral but it is incredibly difficult to follow up on your own.  So we try very hard to support people in whatever process it is they think would help them with their current needs.

I just have to wake up my clicker here…

So who are our counsellors?  We have an amazing team.  I don’t say that lightly.  We have a team and we are very particular about choosing people for the team.  People really have to have a very nuanced understanding of what it means to have experienced repeated trauma at the hands of other people.  So they are trauma specialist counsellors.  They are able to attune to the person in the present, what it is that person needs.

They are trauma informed, you will talk more about that later.  That is a term that is overused but what it means is that they are human in their responses.  They are there to listen to the person, to focus on the person, not what the service needs or what anything else needs.  That’s really critical.

Obviously disability focused and again we are not focused on the particular disability someone presents because we know we all live with different barriers and diversity, it is about understanding that.  As culturally sensitive as we can be, to understand we all bring our own cultural backgrounds and different ways of being and feeling and understanding trauma and understanding healing and that needs to be brought to every conversation we have.  Because if you are not culturally sensitive it would be very hard for a person to feel safe and understood.  People can only be understood in the context of where they have come from and what they have experienced.

So how can you contact us?  By phone and the number is there.  We operate 96 Monday to Friday and 95 on weekends.  We find that weekends can be quite busy, it seems to be a time that maybe people have the space and ability to call.

We have tried to make the options as accessible as possible, with a lot of choice.  It is possible to do live chat and you can access that from the blue knot website.  We can set up video conferences sessions as well, so as much choice as we are able to offer to enable accessibility.  Also to give people the comfort of what is the best way for them to connect in the moment.

So, how private is my call?  It is very important to say that we don’t record our calls.  Obviously privacy and confidentiality is critical for people calling because without that it is impossible to feel safe.

It is important that it is up to you to make the decision of what you want to share with us at the time.  Noone prods or ask you to give any detail about the trauma you have experienced, that is your choice.  You don’t need to use your own name, you can use a nickname if you choose.  To say that even though

we are funded by government, we work entirely independently of the Royal Commission and of government services.  As I said before, we take brief notes which only are shared within the team because it is a team based service.  So if you were to call again then you don’t have to repeat what you have told us before.  The notes are entirely private and confidential within our service.

So we mentioned the trauma informed principles before.  As I say, they are used so much they have lost a bit of their meaning but it is really about what it is as human beings we all need to feel and all deserve and want to feel.  We want to feel respected, we want to be treated with dignity, we want to feel safe and obviously many people have never felt safe.  That is emotional and physical safety.  We do what we can to help people feel held within the service.

Again, many people have been betrayed and it can take time to build trust, to feel we can be trusted and what we say we can do, we will do.  At times if we screw up, because we are human, we own that and tell you and work together with you to try and sort out how we can work through that.

Very critical that everyone who calls and has choice because, again, many people who have been abused or experienced coercion have had no choice.  Choice in how you access us but choice in when you call, when we call back, what it is you need.

Collaboration, so abuse occurs in situations of a power imbalance.  Many people who have experienced trauma living with disability felt profoundly disempowered.  How do we share power and work with you because you are the expert in your own experience.  How do we empower you to have a sense of autonomy.

And  these words are spoken a lot, how do we do it genuinely and with connection and meaning?  The most critical part of the service we offer is about our relationship.  Because as human beings that connection is what can aid healing just as people have been harmed in relationships, so relationships of support and listening and understanding can promote healing and that is what we seek to do.

What is counselling?  Everyone can benefit from counselling.  Many people think that it is for people with a mental illness or not for me and that it has carried a sense of shame about the need to seek it or that other needs get in the way.  I suppose the beauty of the NCRS is we can offer free specialist counselling for people who need it.  As I say, it is tailored to people’s needs, we try and attune to what it is someone is telling us and what it is you articulate that you need in the moment.  It is a safe space.  A space where you can share whatever thoughts, feelings and experiences you feel comfortable to share in the moment.

And that may change from call to call.  Again, as I say, you are not coerced to share anything you are not comfortable with.  We can support you with the life challenges, as I say COVID has created even more stress and anxiety for many of us, how can we support to hear what that has meant for you.

We can also refer to you to longer term counselling which can really help to support healing from trauma.  It is very very important to reassure you that healing from trauma, whatever that means for you, is absolutely possible.  We will talk more about that later.

This is about our support for people who are feeling impacted by COVID.  This is a time of enormous uncertainty, a time of threat to our health, threat to the services that we have been able to access.  For people who have experienced trauma, who have experienced threat in the past and often have lived in a time of danger, it might we can be heightened, our survival response, flight fight freeze response can be accelerated and we can  what we can do is help to provide you with some tools that may help for you to settle down your nervous system but to understand it is not abnormal to be feeling like that and to provide basic education about survival responses and trauma responses.

So that, you know, often we find many people that experienced trauma blame themselves and feel a sense of shame.  When people understand that they are experiencing reactions that many many human beings experience under stress that can take away some of that shame and selfblame and start to promote healing.

So we do have a lot of advocates calling us and I want to acknowledge the incredible work you all do and the passion that I certainly know so many advocates exhibit in the day.  For very challenging work and for work that I am very aware is so under resourced as well.  So, again to understand that the stress that you are under and the trauma of hearing other people’s vicarious trauma can start to impact you.

So we are more than happy for you to call the NCRS so we can help you to understand some of what you may be experiencing and put words around it and again give you strategies and tools to help you so that you may either take some time out of your work, put more breaks into your day, debrief with a peer, another advocate; various ways and strategies you can be supported to care for your own wellbeing while you are doing this critical work.

That is a very very important message and to know again there is no shame about saying that “I am really not coping today.  I am feeling too anxious, I am feeling overwhelmed” that makes sense and a normal response to the nature of the work you are doing, working with people that experienced trauma.

So trauma can sadly impact just about every aspect of someone’s life.  I am not here to bombard you with the impacts but to know that understanding many of the responses to trauma are responses that many other people have to trauma as well and just that understanding of what happened to me in the past and making the connection between that, how I am feeling now, how I have coped but yet there are other ways of coping and being supported towards a place of recovery and health.  Very very important part of the messaging.

People can and do absolutely recover from trauma but that is personal and unique, it is not a medical definition of recovery or about diagnosis.  What is very very important is that when it feels there is no hope, to hold on to that hope and possibility, not to deny or negate experience or barriers but to know that there is a way forward.  But for everyone that is different because everyone is different, we all have different paths.

Again, these are the numbers for contacting us.  I think I am just aware of the time, I am pretty much done.  Yeah, that is a little bit about Blue Knot.

Thank you for listening and I think we are going into a very brief Q and A now.  Thanks so much for your time.

MELISSA HALE:
Thank you very much Cathy and Mary, that was very useful.  150 calls a week is a lot of calls.  I will ask you to understand the importance of not under estimating the importance of trauma and selfcare.  As an advocate you cannot pour from an empty cup.  You need to reach out for support when you need it.

Before we go to questions the first thing I would like to highlight is there were a few questions about whether the slides would be available after this.  Yes, the whole recording of this session plus the supplied associated will be available on the DARA website as usual.  They have the important phone numbers to call if you need it.  Reach out.

We will go to questions and answers now, I will bring Mary and Cathy back on the screen.

QUESTION:
So few people with disability are stepping up as witnesses, do you know why this is, given there so much counselling and legal support?

MELISSA HALE:
Who would like to tackle that question first.  Mary?

MARY MALLETT:
Yeah, I think there are some reasons and the reasons are because the Royal Commission are wanting to select the cases, the stories, the people that will give the best evidence.  TheY  can then use the evidence in their final report.  Some of the people whose stories provide the best evidence, those people would have enormous difficulty in speaking up in a very formal setting like the Royal Commission.  That’s why it seems to end up that it is their family members talking about them or their advocates talking about them or other people around them.

It is not because, I’ve seen others like Senator Jordan Steele-John  making political points about  as if the Royal Commission don’t want to hear from people with disability.  I don’t think that’s true.  I think they do want to hear from people with disability but I think some of the very complex issues that they want to explore have happened to people who would find it very difficult to speak in that public way at those hearings.  That’s what I think

MELISSA HALEe:
Really interesting, Cathy, do you have anything to add.

DR CATHY KEZELMAN:
No, I’M HAPPY. I  with Mary.

QUESTION:
In the pass Royal Commissions have concentrated on obtaining justice and righting wrongs but this is forward focused instead.  What are the benefits of a person with a disability telling their story to the commission when it is likely to retraumatise them?

MELISSA HALE:
Cathy?

DR CATHY KEZELMAN:
Look I think there is no single answer for every person.  Every person would have their own reasons for speaking to the Royal Commission.  Definitely acknowledge there is no apparent immediate benefit but some people may certainly find benefit from speaking out, being heard and being heard by people in a position of authority.

Also, by being part of a movement for change.  Part of a movement that hopefully will see a real difference as a result.  Our organisation was very involved with the child abuse Royal Commission.  Certainly that was the case for many people who spoke to that commission.  They wanted to do what they could to make sure that what happened to them would never happen to someone else and that was a big part of their motivation and what they felt they got out of it.

MELISSA HALE:
Thank you.  Next question;

QUESTION:
often people with disability don’t want to make a complaint or report the abuse because they don’t feel supported.  Should safeguarding bodies be trying to be more trauma informed or offer counselling too.

MELISSA HALE:
The rest of the question will come up, I am looking at a different screen.

DR CATHY KEZELMAN:
Yes, look, I mean our view is that everyone should be more trauma informed, the world needs to be more trauma informed.  Absolutely there needs to be greater safeguarding for bodies and offering of a diversity of support so there is choice and places to go that people can be held and supported to feel as safe as they can during a process that is incredibly challenging.

MELISSA HALE:
Great thank you, one last question I would like to ask but I don’t know whether there is enough time to put it on the screen. OH YEP….

QUESTION:
Thank you for this informative presentations, are any of the advocacy organisations funded to…SRS, mental health in patient units, custodial facilities etcetera.

MELISSA HALE:
Mary?

MARY MALLETT:
So there hasn’t been specific funding for that but some advocacy organisations are trying to find ways in to those places.  There is a little bit of work but for a lot of organisations they have already been reached out to by lots of people and so their capacity is fairly full.

There is some work, very happy if anybody wants to come back and talk to me separately about that afterwards.  Yes, there are little pockets of work in that way happening around the country.  There has been some in Queensland, not so sure about Victoria actually, I should check a bit more.

MELISSA HALE:
Thank you very much to both of you Mary, thank you very much for your presentation and particularly on what is happening in the advocacy sector around disability work. And Cathy, about all the services for counselling that Blue Knot offers as well.

I think we are all really looking forward to seeing what the disability Royal Commission comes up with and more importantly what changes it can make to the lives of people with disability.  Thank you for your time today.

Everyone, we have come to the close of the first of a series.  Thank you for coming today, thank you to the Auslan interpreters and captioners for your hard work today.  Thank you for Show Division for bringing this production today.

Have a wonderful week everyone and we will see you next time.

Download slideshowDisability Royal Commission Interim Report (off-site)DANA website (off-site)National Counselling and Referral Service (off-site)
Author:
DARU

Date published:
Tue 2nd Mar, 2021