Skip to main content

Hearing to examine endemic violence and abuse against people with disability in public spaces

At its twenty-eighth public hearing, the Disability Royal Commission will hear evidence from people with disability who have experienced various forms of violence and abuse in public places, often at the hands of strangers. An expert witness will also highlight the extent of this problem, describing it as endemic in the lives of people with disability.

Starting on Monday 10 October, 14 people with visible and invisible disabilities will give evidence during the five-day hearing. The witnesses will describe incidents of targeted harassment, verbal abuse, physical assaults and threatening behaviour which have occurred in public places such as on the street, on public transport and on online platforms. They will refer to the impacts of the abuse on their general health and wellbeing, and on their willingness to leave their homes and participate in the community.

This hearing reflects the emphatic statement in the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference that ‘all forms of … abuse … of people with disability are abhorrent’.

Public hearing 28 will also:

  • identify what is currently known about the prevalence and impacts of violence and abuse in public places, including data collection

  • look at some existing state police initiatives and training that may assist in encouraging reporting incidents of violence and abuse in public places

  • examine other reporting and safeguarding mechanisms available for people with disability

  • address online abuse targeting people with disability.

Lived experience witnesses and experts from Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia will give evidence at the hearing.

The hearing will be held in the Royal Commission’s hearing room on Level 5, 1 Eagle Street, in Brisbane and is open to the media and general public to attend. It will also be live-streamed on the homepage of the Royal Commission website.

Chair of the Royal Commission, the Honourable Ronald Sackville AO KC, will preside over the hearing and be joined by Commissioners Dr Rhonda Galbally AC and the Honourable John Ryan AM. Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission will be Elizabeth Bennett SC, Cathy Dowsett and Andrew Fraser.

Journalists wishing to cover the hearing should notify the Disability Royal Commission media team to ensure access to relevant information including schedules and live transcripts.

Please direct all inquiries to the Disability Royal Commission media team on 0436 841 166 or via our email