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About the Royal Commission

What is a Royal Commission?

What is a Royal Commission?

A Royal Commission is an investigation, independent of government, into a matter of great importance.

Royal Commissions have broad powers to hold public hearings, call witnesses under oath and compel evidence.

Royal Commissions make recommendations to government about what should change.

Each Royal Commission has terms of reference, which define the issues it will look into.

The Disability Royal Commission was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability. These incidents might have happened recently or a long time ago.

The Disability Royal Commission investigated:

  • preventing and better protecting people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • achieving best practice in reporting, investigating and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability
  • promoting a more inclusive society that supports people with disability to be independent and live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

What does it mean?

What does it mean?

Violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation are important terms for the Disability Royal Commission. In the context of the Royal Commission, these terms have certain meanings.

Violence and abuse

Violence and abuse cover a range of behaviours towards people with a disability. These could include assault, sexual assault, constraints, restrictive practices (physical and chemical), forced treatments, forced interventions, humiliation and harassment, financial and economic abuse and significant violations of privacy and dignity on a systemic or individual basis.


Neglect includes physical or emotional neglect, passive neglect or wilful deprivation. Neglect can be a single significant incident or a systemic issue that involves depriving a person with disability of the basic necessities of life such as food, drink, shelter, access, mobility, clothing, education, medical care and treatment.


Exploitation is when a person takes advantage of someone else. This could include improper use of another person or the improper use of or withholding of another person’s assets, labour, employment or resources including taking physical, sexual, financial or economic advantage.

The Disability Royal Commission investigated and reported on experiences and conditions in all settings and contexts, including:

  • schools
  • workplaces
  • jails and detention centres
  • secure disability and mental health facilities
  • group homes or boarding houses
  • family homes
  • hospitals
  • day programs

The Disability Royal Commission gathered information through research, public hearings, the personal experiences people tell us about and submissions, private sessions, and other forums.

The Final Report was delivered to the Australian Government on 29 September 2023. In this report, the Royal Commission recommended how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society.