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  • Linda Steele

People Living with Dementia and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

The Disability Royal Commission was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about reports of violence against, and neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability.

Violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation are key terms defined by the Disability Royal Commission to include illegal physical assault and sexual assault, failures in care, and restrictive practices.

The Disability Royal Commission is investigating ways to:

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

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

  • Promote a more inclusive society that supports people with disability to be independent and live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

These investigations are considering a range of settings and contexts including schools, workplaces, hospital and health facilities, group homes, family homes, community facilities and prisons.

The Disability Royal Commission is taking a human rights approach and is informed by the rights recognised by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Disability Royal Commission will deliver a final report to the Australian Government in September 2023 with recommendations for improving laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society.

How Dementia Justice is Informing the Royal Commission

The Disability Royal Commission is relevant to people living with dementia because dementia is a disability. The World Health Organisation has stated for over a decade

People living with dementia experience many of the forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation that have been the focus of the Disability Royal Commission’s work, including use of restrictive practices and violence in segregated and institutional settings (notably residential aged care facilities and older person’s mental health facilities).

Dr Linda Steele and Kate Swaffer from our research team made a submission to the Disability Royal Commission based on the findings of the Safe and Just Futures Project.

Submission to the Disability Royal Commission
Download PDF • 13.30MB

They are also drafting another submission based on the results of the Dementia Redress Project informed by focus groups with people living with dementia, their care partners, family members and close friends.

Our newest project partner, Interrelate, provides counsellors at the Dementia Redress Project focus groups. Interrelate is also providing free, independent, and confidential counselling services to support people affected by the Disability Royal Commission.

Another project partner, People with Disability Australia (PWDA), has made numerous submissions to the Disability Royal Commission and supports the Disabled People’s Organisations Australia campaign to #EndSegregation. PWDA are also providing support to people wanting to make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission.

Share your Story

The Commission is seeking personal experiences of:

  • People with disability

  • Family and carers who support people with disability

  • The wider community including health care professionals, educators, and others who provide services to people with disability.

You can share your personal experience by making a submission (either online, in writing, via telephone email, or video or audio recording) and choose whether you want your submission to be made public or kept confidential. The final date for submissions is 31 December 2022.

Alternatively, you can share your story in a confidential, private session with a Commissioner (either in person, via video or telephone call). Registrations for private sessions close on 30 June 2022.

Support to Share Your Story

There are numerous organisations that will support you to share your story with the Disability Royal Commission, including our project partners: People with Disability Australia, and Interrelate.

Your Story Disability Legal Support can provide legal support to people involved with the Disability Royal Commission. Your Story empowers people with disability to safely share their story with the Royal Commission and connect with local support services. The service delivers a person centred, trauma-informed and culturally-safe legal service.

More information


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