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Disability Royal Commission terms of reference

On the 5th April 2019 the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The Royal Commission’s terms of reference include reporting on what can be done to:


  • prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation

  • achieve best practice in reporting and investigating of, and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation

  • promote a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.


Similar to the current Aged Care Royal Commission, the consultation process will be designed to ensuring people with disability are firmly at the centre the Commission’s inquiries. This means: recognising the importance of people with disability sharing their stories; acknowledging the multiple and diverse needs of people with disability including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability; and focusing on themes from individual experiences to identify systemic and recurring issues.


While we can expect the conduct of the Disability Royal Commission to have many similarities to the Aged Care Royal Commission, the respective terms of reference have some quite stark differences. While the Aged Care Royal Commission included inquiries into substandard care, abuse and mistreatment, the terms of reference are generally more focused on broader issues of quality of care, access, choice and control and sustainability. In contrast, the Disability Royal Commission is less focused on these quality and service system issues, with a much narrower remit specifically around violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Consequently, Disability Service Providers can expect inquiries to be made of them with a focus on self-reporting of incidents of this nature, and the identification of opportunities to strengthen the protections against, and reporting of, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.


Based on my recent experience in responding to the Aged Care Royal Commission, Disability Service Providers should be acting now to review their incident and complaints data to identify and mitigate risks that may result from participation in the Royal Commission. Preparation is critical. Many will be aware the Australia’s largest Aged Care providers were only given just six weeks to respond to the invitation of the Aged Care Royal Commission.


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