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What it means to be a witness

Many different types of people are asked to give evidence at a public hearing, some of these people can choose to participate (such as people with disability and their families) and others are legally required to attend (such as people working in relevant organisations).

The Royal Commission will not usually compel people with disability who have experienced violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect to give evidence at public hearings.

If you are giving evidence at a public hearing, the Royal Commission will offer you information and support before, during and after the hearing. We can give you advice and information on:

  • where the public hearing is being held
  • how the Royal Commission runs a public or private hearing
  • what your obligations are as a witness and what is expected of you
  • the public nature of hearings and the role of the media
  • any special arrangements for a hearing
  • the hearing room and protocols
  • witness entitlements and financial support.

We can also refer you to:

  • free independent legal advice for people engaging with the Royal Commission
  • the Legal Financial Assistance Scheme, which may enable you to use your own lawyer, with financial assistance from the Australian Government
  • counselling and other support options, both on the day of the hearing and at other times.

Protection from retribution, including for ‘whistle-blowers’

We understand that people may be concerned about retribution, for example if they give evidence as a witness at a hearing of the Royal Commission that is critical of an employer or accommodation provider. We take this concern very seriously and encourage people to get legal advice about the protections the Royal  Commission is able to offer.

Free legal support, separate from the Royal Commission, is available to help you interact with the Disability Royal Commission. Your Story Disability Legal Support can give you information and advice about being a witness or sharing your experience with the Royal Commission in other ways. Call 1800 771 800 (free call) or visit the Disability Royal Commission Legal Services website.

A5 brochure: Public hearings - A guide for witnesses at the Disability Royal Commission