Legal help and advocacy > Legal advice and representation
Human Rights Legal Service
The HRLS provides specialist legal assistance to vulnerable persons with disability in Queensland.
The work of the HRLS is guided by a human rights framework which aims to protect and promote the fundamental human rights of HRLS clients.
What does the HRLS do?
The HRLS may assist with:
- Advice and representation for guardianship (including Restrictive Practices) and administration applications and reviews for persons with questioned or impaired decision-making capacity (including separate representative appointments)*
- Advice about Enduring Powers of Attorney, Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Directives, for the person making, reviewing or revoking the appointment)**
- Advice, representation and transitional planning work for persons under a Forensic Order (Disability)
- Advice and representation for persons who have experienced disability discrimination
- Advice and representation for persons who feel their human rights, as protected by the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), have been breached by a public entity
- Legal representation for persons appearing as a witness before or providing evidence to the Disability Royal Commission, on referral from National Legal Aid.
*Generally, advice on Guardianship and Administration is only provided where recent medical evidence is available (not more than 6 months old).
** HRLS does not draft documents for these matters.
Who does the HRLS assist?
HRLS can assist people who have:
- An intellectual disability and/or cognitive impairments (including ABI)
- A dual diagnosis of intellectual disability/cognitive impairment plus mental illness
- A profound mental illness
- A profound physical disability
- Other vulnerabilities causing severe disadvantage including:
- Cultural and linguistically diverse people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- People with low socio-economic status
- People living in closed environments
- People in regional or remote area
The extent of assistance that will be provided by the HRLS is at the discretion of the service, having regard to circumstances such as the vulnerability and needs of the client, the merits of the case and available resources.
The HRLS may refuse assistance where:
- The matter gives rise to a conflict of interest
- The matter is so urgent that the HRLS cannot effectively provide legal assistance
- The HRLS does not have capacity or resources to take on the matter
- The individual refuses to accept the HRLS’s advice on an important matter, or the individual is not open and honest with HRLS such that it is impossible for the HRLS to provide proper legal assistance
- There is another more appropriate organisation which can provide assistance to the individual, including Legal Aid Queensland
“Thank you so much for all your help, I can’t praise you
enough Russell for your knowledge and help.”
HRLS client, 2020
“Thanks a million, you really are the first in nearly 21 years that’s really supported me and came through for me.”
HRLS client, 2021
How do I get help?
You will be required to provide QAI with certain personal details which are necessary for the HRLS to deliver its services. All personal information is treated as strictly confidential.
Nora regained some of her choice and control with the help of Queensland Advocacy’s human rights solicitor.
After many years on a depressing and debilitating circuit that included extended hospital inpatient stays and periods in prisons and police cells, Nora* commenced a “Plan-Managed” NDIS package a few years ago. After some necessary and inevitable trial and error, Nora learned – through persistence and hard work – how to make decisions about support services that worked for her. Her experience of controlling her own supports for the first time gave her motivation to improve her health more generally, and she successfully stayed out of hospital and out of trouble for over two years. Then, despite her hard work and success, her clinical team brought an application to have the Public Guardian appointed to make all decisions about her NDIS package. This would have had very detrimental consequences for Nora, as she would have lost the autonomy she’d enjoyed for two years, and the Public Guardian may have been unable to employ the same support services as Nora had been. Nora approached QAI for legal representation at QCAT. After two days of hearings, and extensive written submissions prepared by QAI’s lawyers, QCAT dismissed the clinical team’s applications. Nora retained her ability to choose the supports that work best for her and, for the first time in a very long time, experienced a decision going her way.
*Name has been changed.
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