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Episode 16: Disability Royal Commission advocacy and counselling supports

In this episode

In this episode of Inform, we discuss the services provided by DANA – The Disability Advocacy Network of Australia and the Blue Knot Foundation in support of the Disability Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, or the Disability Royal Commission, was established in April 2019.

The Disability Royal Commission is expected to run until 2022 and will investigate and report on the experiences of people with disability in settings like schools, workplaces, group homes and hospitals.

Recognising that the work of the Disability Royal Commission and the stories and experiences being shared could be traumatic, even for those people not engaging with the Commission, the Australian Government has funded a range of services and supports for people with disability who have experienced violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation or for anyone who is engaging with or affected by the Disability Royal Commission.

In this episode, we’ll be looking at two of those supports: advocacy supports provided by DANA, the Disability Advocacy Network of Australia and the National Counselling and Referral Service, delivered by Blue Knot Foundation.

Advocacy supports

“A royal commission is a very big formal legal process. And people can be quite frightened by that. So that can be overwhelming, but also, they can be very unclear about the processes involved. These formal sort of legal processes.

“So, having, the advocate being that single point of contact to help someone, to talk through their story, write it up, and then source that legal support or the counselling if, if necessary, that that helps the person be able to go through with the whole, whole process.”

–Mary Mallet, CEO of DANA – Disability Advocacy Network Australia

Counselling and referral supports

“So, in the first instance, we provide counselling, which really is, you know, emotional support. And when someone has engaged with the Royal Commission, and it’s a Royal Commission that’s looking into trauma. So that means that often people will be revisiting their traumatic experiences, either from the past, or currently. And obviously, that brings up a whole lot of not just memories, and experiences, but emotional ups and downs.

“And so we can be there to just help walk alongside someone during that process to listen and to hear, and to help provide strategies as well for them around how to ground themselves and help them to feel safe, in what is, you know, a very challenging process. It takes a lot of courage to come forward and speak up and out about, you know, what’s happened to you, and traumatic experiences that have really often profoundly affected your life.”

–Dr Cathy Kezelman, President of Blue Knot Foundation


DANA – Disability Advocacy Network Australia

Blue Knot Foundation

National Counselling and Referral Service

Your Story Legal Support

Disability Royal Commission


You can find a transcript of this episode here:

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Do you have a story that you’d like to share? Get in touch at [email protected]

Inform is a production of Independence Australia. If you’re keen to hear more, you can go back and listen to our past episodes here.

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Host and producer: Kirby Fenwick
Managing editor: Alison Crowe

Our thanks to Mary Mallett from DANA and Dr Cathy Kezelman from the Blue Knot Foundation.

This episode of Inform was recorded and produced on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulan nation. We pay our respects to elders past and present.

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