To contact the Royal Commission:
- email DRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au
- telephone 1800 517 199 or +61 7 3734 1900
- post GPO Box 1422, Brisbane Qld 4001
ACN’s Lucy Doherty shares her experience giving evidence at the Disability Royal Commission.
When the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of people with disability began in late 2019, it was heralded as a critical opportunity for disabled voices to be heard, and – critically – bring about positive and lasting change.
Lucy Doherty, whose teenage son is on the spectrum, recently gave testimony to the Royal Commission. In a quick Q&A with the ACN, Lucy tells us why she chose to speak up.
Lucy: I reflected on our journey and experiences to date – with schools, service providers, government bodies, community groups etc. I saw the Royal Commission as a powerful opportunity to influence change and hopefully create a better future for my son and others.
What preparation did you do ahead of giving evidence?
Lucy: I started by applying for a private session on the Royal Commission website. I was then contacted by Royal Commission staff, who asked me about the key issues I wanted to raise, and any recommendations I wished to make. Even at this preliminary stage, it felt so empowering that someone wanted to hear our story and suggestions! I made some notes in readiness for the hearing. We agreed a date and time, and that the session would be held by video conference. Royal Commission staff also linked me in with free counselling and legal advice which could support me further through the process if needed. I was also contacted beforehand to test the video conference technology in readiness for the day.
What happened on the day?
Lucy: The process was straightforward. I was able to attend the private session from the comfort of my own home. About half an hour before the session, Royal Commission staff connected with me to prepare the technology and go through some procedural matters. At the nominated time, the Commissioner joined the video conference. The Commissioner was easy to talk to and was very interested in our story and recommendations.
How did you feel after giving evidence?
Lucy: It felt like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders, and we were finally heard. It was empowering to know that, in my own small way, I contributed to systemic change and better outcomes for my son and others.
What advice would you give to others about taking part in the Royal Commission?
Lucy: Please consider doing it. Every voice counts and we all need to speak up. It was far easier than I thought, and I was supported through every step of the process.
Families navigate the system and advocate more effectively. I spoke to Laura Cottam from the ACDL about this toolkit, called Learning Together. In a quick Q&A, she outlines the extent of issues families are facing.