What is the Royal Commission?
A Royal Commission is a public inquiry that allows the Australian Government to look into a particular issue. In the Australian system of government, royal commissions are the highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was announced in 2019 in recognition of the fact that people with disability across Australia experience violence at higher rates and in more specific ways than other groups of people. The Royal Commission is due to be finished by April 2022.
The Royal Commission is looking into all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of people with disability in all settings and contexts. This includes violence in family homes, group homes, schools, TAFEs and universities, workplaces, health services and hospitals, community settings and more.
The Royal Commission applies to all people with disability and recognises that people’s experiences of violence are often influenced by other things like age, sex, gender, sexuality, race, cultural background and socioeconomic status.
Why was the Disability Royal Commission
In Australia, people with disability of all ages experience higher rates of violence than the general population, and often experience violence in ways that are specific to their disability.
People with disability are at even higher risk of experiencing violence if they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQA+) or come from a culturally diverse background. Women and girls with disability from all of these groups are subject to violence more often and more intensely than others and are less likely to get support.
Did you know?
In a survey run by Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPOA) in early 2019,
more than 30% of people with disability said they had experienced violence or abuse. 
You can read the report on the DPOA website (external link).
Key terms you should know
Violence and abuse
Violence and abuse refers to all forms of assault, sexual assault, physical restrictive practices, chemical restraints, forced treatments, humiliation and harassment, financial and economic abuse and violations of privacy and rights.
Neglect refers to when someone denies another person things they need, including physical and emotional supports. This can be things like food, drink, housing, clothes education, psychological and medical care.
Exploitation refers to taking advantage of another person for your own benefit. It includes things like forced prostitution and trafficking, as well as workforce labour without fair pay. It also includes someone using another person's assets or resources for their own advantage.
Tip: You can learn more about different types of violence on the What is Violence? page.
How to take part in the Royal Commission
If you are an Australian woman or girl with disability and have experienced any form of violence, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation, you can tell your story to the Royal Commission.
Public hearings are formal meetings where people are asked to give evidence about events and issues that are relevant to the Disability Royal Commission’s terms of reference (external link).
The Royal Commission is holding these public meetings around Australia to hear from people with disability about their experiences of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. All public hearings of the Disability Royal Commission are recorded and streamed live.
You can find details about the dates and locations of hearings on the Royal Commission website (external link).
One of the main ways the Commission will receive information about violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect of people with disability is through submissions. Submissions can be made by both individuals and organisations.
Making a Submission
What is a submission
A submission is a way for you to tell the Commission if you have experienced any form of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect. Anyone can make a submission to the Royal Commission.
How to make a submission
You can make a submission in writing, or through a video or audio recording. All languages are accepted.
To do this, you can download a form from the Royal Commission website (external link).
Forms are available in Plain English and Easy Read.
You can also make a submission by calling the Commission on 1800 517 199 or (07) 3734 1900 or by sending the Commission an email at DRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au.
Tip: You can download our Fact Sheet: Making a Government Submission to learn more.
What happens to my submission?
Once you have made a submission, it will be viewed by the Royal Commissioners. The Royal Commission may use information from your submission in its reports and other publications. Personal information like your name and contact details will not be published, unless you want it to be. You will need to tell the Royal Commission if you want your name and contact details to be kept confidential. The Australian Parliament is also currently discussing plans to keep private information confidential after the end of the official inquiry.
If you share your story with the Royal Commission, you can ask for your information to be kept private.
The Royal Commission can currently protect your identity and the information you share until the Royal Commission ends. The Australian Parliament is also currently discussing plans to keep private information confidential after the end of the official inquiry.
If you are worried about your identity or the information you have provided being shared after the Royal Commission has ended, you may be able to tell your story with a Commissioner in a private session.
You can find more information and apply for a private session on the Royal Commission website (external link).
Where to get support
There are a number of ways you can be supported to participate in all aspects of the Royal Commission.
Counselling and support
If you have experienced or witnessed violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation or are affected by the Disability Royal Commission, you can get free counselling, support and referral services to help you.
The Your Story Disability Legal Support Service provides free advice and support to people engaging with the Royal Commission.
If you need to access legal support to help you engage with the Royal Commission, you may be able to receive financial support to pay for any costs involved.
You can find out if you are eligible for financial assistance and how to apply on the Australian Government Attorney General website (external link).
Tip: You can find more information about getting legal and financial help on our Money page.
National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP)
The National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) (external link) is offering free advocacy and support services to people with disability wanting to engage with the Royal Commission. These services can:
Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA)
The Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA) (external link) assists people with disability who are from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities to be able to tell their story to the Royal Commission.
Find an advocate
To find an advocate near you, you can search on the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) website (external link) and/or use the online Disability Advocacy Finder (external link).
 Disabled People's Organisations Australia (2019) Violence against people with disability (external link).