Skip to main content

Report - Public hearing 12 - The experiences of people with disability, in the context of the Australian Government’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

  • Public hearing reports
Publication date

Report of Public hearing 12 - The experiences of people with disability, in the context of the Australian Government’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout 


On 17 May 2021, the Disability Royal Commission held a public hearing in Sydney. It looked at the experiences of people with disability in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

At the hearing people told us about their experiences in getting a vaccine. We’ve also heard about important things that happened in the rollout of vaccines to people with disability since the hearing.

We have published a report about this.

Our report makes 17 findings and 7 recommendations about how the Australian Government has managed the vaccine rollout and how it affects people with disability, especially people with intellectual disability and people living in disability residential settings like group homes.

This Auslan video is a summary of the report.

Main problems

Our report says that the Australian Government’s Department of Health faced many challenges in developing the vaccine rollout strategy, and in rolling out the vaccine.

It says the Australian Government did not meet these challenges, and that the rollout was ‘seriously deficient.’

The report talks about 3 main problems with the rollout of vaccines for people with disability.

  • When the Department of Health developed the vaccine strategy and rolled it out they did not properly consult with:
    • people with disability
    • disability support workers
    • disability representative organisations
    • service providers.
    This made it harder for people with disability to find and get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Department of Health was not open or transparent in making decisions. For example, it decided to vaccinate people in aged care accommodation before people with disability, even though both groups were priorities. It did not communicate this to the public for 6 weeks. This meant people with disability did not know about the changes, and they could not respond to the decision.
  • The Department of Health did not provide clear, easy-to-understand information about the vaccines and the rollout to people with disability. This meant some people with disability were too confused or scared to get the vaccine.


Our report makes 7 recommendations to the Australian Government. Some of these are:

  • That the Australian Government makes sure they consult with people with disability and the disability sector to develop a plan so that:
    • all people living in disability residential settings
    • all people with intellectual disability
    • all disability support workers
    can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • That the Australian Government provides clear and accessible communication for people with disability about the vaccine rollout.
  • The Australian Government makes sure no state or territory significantly eases restrictions until:
    • all people with disability, particularly NDIS participants, people living in disability residential settings, and people with intellectual disability can be fully vaccinated
    • all active disability support workers have been fully vaccinated. 

More information

You can read the full report on our website. Search ‘Public hearing 12’.