Disability Royal Commission news and updates

Read about the latest work of the Disability Royal Commission, including public hearings, reports and recommendations.

Disability Royal Commission news and updates

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was established in April 2019 to investigate concerns about the treatment of people with disability across Australia.

The investigation will cover the experiences of people with disability in all environments, including schools, workplaces, jails and detention centres, secure disability and mental health facilities, group homes or boarding houses, family homes, hospitals and day programs.

This page is a collection of our articles about previous hearings, reports and recommendations, with news of the latest hearings and announcements appearing at the top.

The expected upcoming public hearing dates are:

  • 29 August – 2 September: Public hearing 26, Parramatta – Homelessness, including experience in boarding houses, hostels and other arrangements
  • 19 – 23 September: Public hearing 27, Perth – Police responses and conditions in detention
  • 10 – 14 October: Public hearing 28, Brisbane – Violence against, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability in public places
  • 24 – 28 October: Public hearing 29, Melbourne – The experiences of violence against, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • 21 – 25 November: Public hearing 30, Homebush – Guardianship, substituted and supported decision making
  • 5 – 9 December: Public hearing 31, Brisbane – Service providers
  • 12 – 16 December: Public hearing 32, Brisbane – Vision for an inclusive Australia

Commissioners will collect evidence for their investigation by hearing directly from people with disability, families, disability advocates, service providers and Government bodies and accepting submissions in a range of accessible formats.

To share your experiences in a way that suits you visit the Disability Royal Commission’s website. Submissions must be received by 31 December, 2022.

The Commission is expected to run until September 2023, when a report will be made to the Australian Government recommending changes to policies, laws, systems and practices which will improve the lives of people with disability.

Please note that many of the articles below contain stories of abuse and violence.


Education Department leaders grilled on system's support for students with disability

Representatives of the South Australian and Western Australian Education Departments have admitted they need to work on supporting students with disability, after hearing about students’ experiences. Public Hearing 24 of the Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability concluded 10 June.

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Education system segregates children with disability, Royal Commission hears

Young people with disability and parents have shared their experiences of segregation in the education system during the 24th public hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. To date the Royal Commission has received 4,677 submissions, of which 21 percent relate to education or learning for children and young people with disability, prompting the Commission to hold another hearing into the issues around education.

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People with disability paid below minimum wage and lacking employment support

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People With Disability heard this week that people working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) are paid a fraction of the minimum wage and often remain in supported employment for years. Public hearing 22, The experience of people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises, ran from 11 to 13 April and focused on the experiences of people working in ADEs, wage assessments, supported wage levels and the relationship to the Disability Support Pension (DSP), and the training and development opportunities offered.

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Women with disability face barriers to reporting abuse and being believed

The Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has heard from girls and women with disability about their constant barriers to accessing help and receiving justice for abuse and violence towards them. Part two of Public Hearing 17: the experience of women and girls with disability with a particular focus on family, domestic and sexual violence, began on Monday and witnesses, advocates and service representatives appeared in front of the Commission across the week to provide their lived experiences.

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Disability Employment Service investigated by the Royal Commission

A case study heard by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has shown gaps in employment support and poor handling of complaints. Public Hearing 21 focused on the experience of people with disability engaging with Disability Employment Services (DES) and in particular the experiences of Mzia*, who worked as a barista trainer in a program known as BusyBeans.

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Royal Commission "deeply concerned" about effects of Omicron wave

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has released a statement outlining its ongoing concern about the health, safety and wellbeing of people with disability during the current Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission says in the statement that it is deeply concerned that people with disability are still not being appropriately prioritised in health care, disability support and the vaccine and booster rollout.

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Calls for Disability Royal Commission to hold emergency hearing into Omicron wave

The Board of peak advocacy organisation People with Disability Australia (PWDA) says the “failure” of Australian governments to keep people with disability safe during the latest COVID-19 wave should be investigated by the Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

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Employment of people with disability hasn’t improved in years, hears Disability Royal Commission

Employment rates of people with disability in Australia have not seen improvement in 30 years, an expert told the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People With Disability this week. The Royal Commission has been investigating the challenges faced by people with disability in finding and retaining employment in the latest round of public hearings.

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Reports of restraints are found to have tripled as Disability Royal Commission discusses rights

The latest Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability public hearing has outlined how Australia is not protecting the rights of people with disability, in line with a “shocking” report on the use of restraints.

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Majority of women with intellectual disability have experienced sexual abuse, hears Disability Royal Commission

Ninety percent of Australian women with intellectual disability have experienced sexual abuse according to figures heard by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability this week. The first part of the Commission’s Public Hearing 17 on the experiences of women and girls with disability, which had a particular focus on family, domestic, and sexual violence, was held on 13 - 14 October.

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Disability Royal Commission slams vaccine rollout

Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been labelled “seriously deficient” by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The Commission has released a draft report, called Report of Public hearing 12: The experiences of people with disability, in the context of the Australian Government’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, based on its hearings held in May.

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Royal Commission's protection of people with disability welcomed as submissions grow

People with a disability now have their confidentiality protected by law for their entire lifetime once they submit to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Advocates in the sector have been calling for the law to strengthen protection of people with disability as previously the confidentiality of a person who submitted only applied during the Commission, and not after the Commission ended.

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Disability Royal Commission hears of shocking threats to disability care resident in SA

A South Australian family has told the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability they were sent an anonymous letter threatening abuse against their nephew, who lives with an intellectual disability. The Disability Royal Commission is continuing to look into how disability service providers prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as part of a week-long hearing in Adelaide.

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Disability royal commission hears allegations of abuse at NDIS accommodation provider

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission) last week turned its focus to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service providers, hearing allegations of abuse and mistreatment that occurred in a Sydney group home.

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Vaccine rollout to disability sector an "abject failure" and "discrimination"

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability held a special hearing on Monday investigating the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to disability residents and staff and its performance in the disability sector. The Department of Health admitted at a Senate Select Committee hearing in April that disability residents were de-prioritised so they could vaccinate all aged care residents instead.

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Disability Royal Commission granted extension until September 2023

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has been granted a 17-month extension by the Australian Government. With the final report now due on 29 September 2023 there will be additional time for further hearings, which has been welcomed by disability advocacy groups.

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DRC to investigate COVID-19 vaccine rollout for people with disability

Following a tumultuous national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will be examining the Australian Government's approach to vaccinating Australia's most at risk. A one day hearing will be held on 17 May by the Disability Royal Commission, looking into the success of the vaccine rollout for the disability sector, including the vaccination of people with disability and disability support workers.

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Peak bodies demand Government response to DRC extension request

Disability advocacy groups are demanding that the Federal Government responds to requests from the Disability Royal Commissioner Ronald Sackville AO QC to extend the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (DRC), with the initial request being largely ignored since October last year. Advocates believe the extension is essential and have joined forces in their call for the additional 17 months to be granted so that the stories of people with disability can be heard.

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Women with disability twice as likely to experience sexual assault, says DRC

As Australia deals with the ongoing sexual assault cases against women in Parliament and the pervasive culture around sexual assault by men, the Disability Royal Commission released a damning report, finding that women with disability are twice as likely to experience sexual assault than women without disability.

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Disability representatives urge Government to pass DRC privacy legislation

People with disability and representative organisations are calling on the Australian Government to pass legislation to protect the confidentiality of people giving information to the Disability Royal Commission when Parliament sits this week.

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DRC seeks experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability in Australia

The Disability Royal Commission wants to hear about challenges, barriers and ways to better prevent and reduce violence against, and abuse, neglect and exploitation of, culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability. In its latest issues paper released this week, the Royal Commission calls for information and feedback from members of the public, particularly people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

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Disability RC to examine how people with disability fare in the criminal justice system

Indefinite detention and the overrepresentation of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system will be examined when the Disability Royal Commission holds its next public hearing in Brisbane from 16-25 February, 2021. This hearing will consider the need for the provision of proper supports to people with disability in detention.

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Joint paper calls for end to segregation of people with disability in Australia

Disability rights and advocacy organisations are calling upon the Disability Royal Commission to fully investigate the negative impacts of segregation on people with disability. Over 40 organisations have released a joint segregation paper outlining their concerns about existing law, policy and practice frameworks that maintain the segregation of people with disability from community life.

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RC to examine pathways and barriers to employment for people with disability

Pathways and barriers to open employment for people with disability is the subject of the ninth public hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability to be held in Sydney this week. It will be the first public hearing of the Royal Commission concerning economic participation of people with disability.

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RC report finds “serious failures” to people with disability during early stages of COVID-19

The Australian Government was responsible for “serious failures” to people with disability during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, a report by the Disability Royal Commission says. The report was released on 30th November in response to the Disability Royal Commission’s fifth public hearing held in August.

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First Nations people with disability raise injustice, discrimination at RC

First Nations people with disability will tell the Disability Royal Commission this week about the structural violence they experience in the child-protection system around Australia.

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An overuse of medications and restrictive practices

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability held hearings, running from 22 - 25 September, examining the use of psychotropic medication to address behaviours of concern exhibited by people with disability.

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Mistreatment and miscommunication at heart of healthcare

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability started its first round of hearings for 2020 in Homebush, Sydney, with a focus on how people with intellectual disability experience the healthcare system. Over the two week hearing, the Commission will be investigating access and treatment of people with a cognitive disability, including intellectual disability, autism and acquired brain injury, in the health system.

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People with disability deserve the right to live independently

The last three days of the Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, heard from advocacy organisations about group homes, a case study around sexual abuse in a group home, and a panel suggesting alternatives to group homes. Many of the witnesses explained the difficulty of living within group homes and the lack of freedom and independence they had as individuals.

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Inclusive education works

The final two days of the education hearings in Brisbane for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability heard from department heads of inclusive and special education services, and the Department of Education’s role in driving inclusive education in Queensland. On day three, a panel of special education department heads discussed the success of inclusive education in their schools in Queensland.

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Submissions open for Disability Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has officially opened its public submissions. The inquiry is fielding the lived experience of people with disability and hopes to uncover incidents of violence, neglect, abuse or exploitation of people with disability, understand the current complaints processes and outcomes, the lack of access to support or services, the quality of disability support services and examples of best practice and innovation.

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