Disability Royal Commission

Updates from the Disability Royal Commission will be posted here.

First Nations people tell their stories at next hearing

First Nations people with disability and their families who have interacted with child protection systems will tell their stories at our next public hearing.

Hearing 8, ‘The experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems’ will take place in Brisbane from November 23-27.

Royal Commission Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said this will be our first hearing that specifically examines the experiences of First Nations people with disability.

‘We will look closely at the deeply complex interactions between prevalence of disability, abuse, the experience of trauma and the ongoing impacts of colonisation for First Nations people,’ he said.

Some of the topics the hearing will cover include:

  • whether First Nations parents with disability and their families are more likely to have contact with child protection systems because they are a First Nations person with disability
  • how child protection services interact with and respond to First Nations parents with disability in their practices and decisions
  • whether First Nations parents with disability are at greater risk of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation during, or as a result of, contact with child protection systems.

The hearing will be closed to the public, but will be live-streamed on our website.

Visit our website for more information.

Disability Royal Commission Covid-19 Hearing


The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission) held a public hearing last week that focused on the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability. While the inquiry largely centred around the Commonwealth’s response to the pandemic, this virtual hearing held over four days highlighted issues of critical relevance to disability service providers.


Broadly speaking, the objectives of the hearing were to hear from people with disability and their families recount their own experiences during the pandemic; examine the response of the Commonwealth to the risks to health, safety and wellbeing of people with disability; identify measures the Commonwealth should have taken to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of people with disability during the pandemic; and recommend measures that will protect the health and safety of this vulnerable group, both during the remainder of the pandemic and in future emergencies.

Read the full article at The Third Sector.

Disability Royal Commission issue Statement of Concern


Statement of Concern – The response to the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic for people with disability

The Royal Commission is deeply concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disability. The pandemic is an unprecedented public health, social and economic emergency that requires swift and effective action by governments, businesses and the community. Governments should ensure they take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities.

Read the full statement here.

Royal Commission suspends all public events


The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has suspended public hearings, due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

This includes upcoming hearings on:

  • education scheduled for next week in Brisbane, Queensland
  • justice scheduled for April in Brisbane, Queensland
  • First Nations people with disability scheduled for May in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

Community engagements and face to face private sessions have also been suspended for the time being.

The Royal Commission has been contacting all those directly affected, such as witnesses and people who have registered for community forums, to inform them of the decision.

The Royal Commission is considering the implications of this situation for its timetable.

The Royal Commission will continue to work despite the postponement of some of the Royal Commission’s activities. For example, issues papers will still be published and preparations for future hearings will progress.

For more information about the decision to postpone public events, you can read the media release.

People can continue to tell the Royal Commission about their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. They can do this in any way they choose, by phone, in writing or by making an audio or video recording. Information about sharing your story is on the website.

We will continue to provide regular updates on our website, our newsletter and on our social media channels.


Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

Phone: 1800 517 199 (9:00am to 6:00pm AEDT)

Email: DRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au

Web: www.disability.royalcommission.gov.au

Royal Commission Sydney hearing begins next week


The Royal Commission

into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will begin its next hearing at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush on Tuesday 18 February.

The hearing will investigate the access to and treatment of people with cognitive disability, including people with intellectual disability, autism and acquired brain injury, in the health system.

The hearing officially begins on Tuesday 18 February. At the request of a number of witnesses, the Royal Commission will be using Monday 17 February to hold a closed familiarisation session. Over two weeks, the hearing will explore:

  • the extent to which people with intellectual disability disproportionately experience significant health problems
  • barriers faced by people with cognitive disability when accessing and receiving health care and services, including barriers to communication and health professionals’ attitudes, values and assumptions
  • training and education of health professionals with respect to patients with cognitive disability
  • delayed diagnoses and misdiagnoses of people with cognitive disability
  • diminished life expectancy of people with cognitive disability
  • specific issues for First Nations people with cognitive disability with respect to health care and services.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the Royal Commission website and include live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.

End of year progress report and calendar for 2020


The Royal Commission has released a schedule of events including public hearings and community engagement activities for the first half of 2020.

Upcoming hearings will be held in western Sydney and two will be held in Brisbane. The hearings will investigate health, education and justice.

Community engagement activities will be held in Logan and Ipswich in February, Launceston and Burnie in March, regional Victoria in April and Brisbane in May.

Engagement activities with First Nations people and organisations, throughout the first half of the year will culminate in a hearing in the Northern Territory that will focus on the experiences if First Nations people with disability.

The Royal Commission has also released its first progress report. Since it was established in April 2019, the Royal Commission has:

• Held two public hearings into inclusive education and accommodation, including group homes
• Held nine stakeholder and advocacy workshops across Australia
• Held six community forums in Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia
• Received more than 360 submissions from individuals and organisations
• Received more than 2000 phone enquires through its national hotline
• Released three issues papers on key areas of investigation
• Published its Accessibility and Inclusion Strategy

In 2020, the Royal Commission will continue to release issues papers on key areas of investigation and present its Interim Report to the Australian Government in October 2020.

Accessibility and inclusion strategy


The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has released its Accessibility and inclusion strategy (the Strategy).

The Strategy outlines the principles that will guide the Royal Commission in its engagement with people with disability. It commits the Royal Commission to putting people with disability first in everything we do and explains how we will achieve this.

The Strategy was released in draft form for public consultation in August. This version reflects feedback we received from the community.

The Strategy will be reviewed and updated periodically throughout the duration of the Royal Commission.

The Disability Royal Commission will launch a new website with improved accessibility in January 2020.

The Accessibility and inclusion strategy and an Easy Read version are available at www.disability.royalcommission.gov.au/about/Pages/accessibility-inclusion-strategy.aspx

You can provide feedback on the Accessibility and inclusion strategy at any time. Contact details are on their website www.disability.royalcommission.gov.au/contact/Pages/default.aspx

Issue paper on group homes released


Living arrangements are a key issue for the Royal Commission to explore because we know that people with disability may experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in their homes.

Following the closure of large institutions in Australia, group homes became a common form of accommodation for people with disability. It was expected that the group home model would provide people with disability with more independence and meaningful life choices. However, concerns have been raised that group homes do not deliver these benefits. Some advocates claim that people with disability living in group homes experience exclusion and isolation, have less choice and control over their lives, and face an increased the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Royal Commission issues paper on group homes outlines our preliminary understanding of the key issues experienced by people with disability living in group homes. The paper includes 10 questions to help people and organisations to provide responses. This issues paper focuses specifically on group homes. Other forms of accommodation will be addressed in future papers.

The Royal Commission encourages responses from individuals and organisations to the issues paper by 28 February 2020, although submissions will also be accepted after that date.

The issues paper on group homes is available in PDF, Word and easy read formats on our website.

Responses to the issues paper should be provided, either:

Royal Commission advocacy and counselling organisations announced


The organisations to provide advocacy and counselling services for people engaging with the Disability Royal Commission have been announced.

A total of almost $140M has been allocated for advocacy, counselling and legal supports over three years. This includes nearly $28M for ten state-based counselling organisations to deliver in-person counselling. A large number of state-based advocacy organisations have also been funded.

Nationally, in addition to Blue Knot Foundation — which has run the National Counselling and Referral Service since October — $7.35M has been allocated for the following organisations to provide national systemic advocacy:

  • Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA)
  • National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
  • People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
  • Women with Disability Australia (WWDA)
  • First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN)
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO)
  • Inclusion Australia
  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)

The National Counselling and Referral Service has received over 300 calls since opening on 17 October.

NDS members may need to refer clients to these organisations for support in participating in the Royal Commission. The National Counselling and Referral Service can be contacted on 1800 421 468, Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm AEDT and Saturday to Sunday 9am to 5pm AEDT. Further information on support services is available on the DSS website.

For more information on the announcement, including a list of all successful state and territory advocacy and counselling services, see the media release on the DSS website.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability regularly adds new information to its website. Below is a summary of their latest updates:

  • The Commission held a series of workshops with key stakeholders in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The workshops were held with First Nations groups, disability advocates, legal practitioners and service providers. You can read more about the workshop series on their News page.
  • The Commission is now accepting Submissions. Additional information about the submission process is available on the Submissions page. The Australian Government is also funding a legal advisory service and advocacy support for people who want assistance to make a submission.  This support will be available shortly, so please subscribe to the Mailing list and the commission will let you know when services are available.
  • The Commission is progressively developing a range of Easy Read materials in HTML format, in addition to downloadable Word documents and PDFs.  The first of the new Easy Read materials is now available and covers the legal workshops held Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
  • National Counselling and Referral Services has commenced operations and offers free counselling support for people with disability, their families and carers, and anyone affected by the Disability Royal Commission. Additional services for the deaf, hard of hearing and/or the speech impaired, as well as those who require support in another language, are also now available on the Department of Social Services website.

If you have any questions about the Commission, submissions or anything else on their website, please phone 1800 517 199 or DRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au.