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Traumatic episodes: support for people with disability


By Juliano Oliveira

People with a disability who have experiences of abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation have now the possibility to obtain free trauma-informed counselling and advocacy support.

Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President of Blue Knot Foundation, says the organisation, funded by the Australian Government, is the first step for people seeking emotional support.

“Blue Knot provides short-term, trauma-informed phone counselling for people with disability, families, carers, advocates, service providers and sector workers,” Dr Kezelman says.

“Blue Knot also refers people to longer-term counselling as well as advocacy, legal, financial and other supports.”

Over 5 million adults in Australia have experiences of complex trauma which is repeated ongoing interpersonal trauma and abuse, often from childhood, as an adult, or both. Repeated trauma is more common for people with disability who often have significant support needs and face many barriers to participation.

Mary Mallett, Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) CEO, states that the number of people with a disability requesting support has been increasing throughout Australia.

“Advocates can help people to tell their story to the Disability Royal Commission, arrange accessible supports such as interpreters, and connect people to services such as legal, financial and other supports.”

“Advocates are also available to support people with disability to make decisions about engaging with the Disability Royal Commission.”


Contact the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468 9am to 6 pm (AEST) weekdays and 9 am to 5 pm (AEST) weekends and national public holidays for counselling support, information and referral, or ask to be connected to a counsellor or advocate near you.

People who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment can contact the National Counselling and Referral Service through the National Relay Service on 133 677.

Counsellors and advocates can arrange free translations and interpret for people who need help in another language. 

Culturally appropriate support is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families.

Visit and for more information.

Visit the Department of Social Services’ website for captioned videos, Easy Read and Auslan resources, and a full list of organisations providing counselling, advocacy, legal and financial supports for the Disability Royal Commission.

If you are currently experiencing any form of violence or abuse, or you are concerned for your or someone else’s safety, call 000 immediately.

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