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Fourth Progress Report

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Publication date

The Fourth Progress Report summarises the work carried out by the Royal Commission during the period 1 January to 30 June 2021.

Fourth Progress Report (Auslan)


Fourth Progress Report

The Disability Royal Commission has published its Fourth Progress Report. It covers our activities from 1 January to 30 June 2021.

Key updates

On 17 March the Australian Government introduced a Bill into parliament to protect confidential information provided to us in submissions after our inquiry is over. This Bill will encourage more people with disability to engage with us. The earliest the Bill could be debated and passed is August 2021.

On 27 April the Australian Government responded to our report on Public hearing 5, which was about the experiences of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government supported 21 of the 22 recommendations we made in the report.

On 13 May the Australian Government granted us an extension to finish our work. Our final report is now due by 29 September 2023.

On 24 June Commissioner Roslyn Atkinson stepped down from her role for personal reasons.

Public hearings

From 1 January to 30 June 2021 we held five public hearings. The hearings looked at:

  • education and training of health professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability
  • experiences of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system
  • experiences of people with disability of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out
  • experiences of people in disability services (2 hearings).

Community engagement

In the first half of 2021 we took part in information sessions, and held focus groups, workshops and discussions with people with disability and the organisations that support them including:

  • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • people with intellectual disability
  • people in prisons and youth detention centres
  • young people.

We also met with First Nations communities in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania, and New South Wales. In these meetings we heard about:

  • the lack of culturally appropriate health and disability services, and problems accessing them
  • issues with the child protection system and removal of children with disability
  • not enough housing.

Submissions and private sessions

From 1 January to 30 June 2021 we received 851 submissions about people’s experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. This was an increase from the previous 6 months. More than 100 submissions were from Queensland prisons.

We held 282 private sessions during the same period.

Some of the themes raised in submissions and private sessions included:

  • repeated instances of inadequate or inappropriate health and medical treatment
  • limited educational opportunities and supports
  • problems relating to the siloing of services
  • difficulties accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
  • difficulties reporting violence, abuse, neglect, or exploitation, due to feeling complaints are not heard or no action is taken.

When discussing their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation, people most commonly said it involved a paid support worker, teacher or medical professional.


We published 2 research reports.

And for the first time we published translations of a research report in 5 First Nations languages. The report was about the experiences of First Nations people with disability.

We published our final issues paper, seeking experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability.

We also published our report of Public hearing 6. This report found psychotropic medication is over-prescribed to people with cognitive disability who show behaviours of concern.

More information

The full fourth progress report is available on our website, in the ‘Publications’ section. It contains more details about all our activities as well as some personal stories people have shared with us.