Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
Back to main website Print

About the legal workshops

A summary of the workshops held in July 2019

How to use this webpage

A group of people. There is a woman at the front of the group, she is holding a card that says "we".

The Disability Royal Commission (the Commission) wrote this webpage.

When you see the word ‘we’, it means the Commission.

Easy Read icon

We have written this information in an easy to read way. We use pictures to explain some ideas.

word list

We have written some words in bold. We explain what these words mean. There is a list of these words in the Word list.

summary icon

This Easy Read webpage is a summary of some other documents.

Website icon

You can find the other documents on our website.

Cover of the Fact Sheet about the Royal Commission

You might also like to read our Fact Sheet about the Royal Commission.

woman with her hand raised as if to ask a question behind a table with justice scales on it. There is also a speech bubble next to her with a question mark inside.

The Fact Sheet explains:

  • what a Royal Commission is
man thinking
  • why we are having a Royal Commission.
4 icons: a fist, a person crying, a person crouched over, and a person standing in front of another person crouched over

The Fact Sheet also explains the meaning of hard words we use a lot, such as:

  • violence
  • abuse
  • neglect
  • exploitation.
A woman is helping a man read a document.

You can ask for help to read this webpage. A friend, family member or support person may be able to help you.

What's on this page?

What is this webpage about?

woman with her hand raised as if to ask a question behind a table with justice scales on it. There is also a speech bubble next to her with a question mark inside.

This webpage is about the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

We usually call it the Commission.

people icons standing over Australia. there is an arrow that goes around Australia.

In July 2019, the Commission brought people from around Australia together for 3 workshops.

Those people are:

A lawyer with a law icon next to her
  • lawyers – people with experience in law
man with his arms crossed. another man stands in front of him speaking with his hand raised, there is also a megaphone icon.
  • advocates – people who speak up for people with disability
A woman writing something on a clipboard. There is a Commission icon below her
  • people who work for the Commission.
Icon of the Commissioners with a gavel in front of them

The people leading our work are called the Commissioners.

woman explaining document to man

This webpage explains what happened at the workshops.

Who are the Commissioners?

The Honourable Mr Ronald Sackville AO QC is leading the Commission.

He is called the Chair of the Commission.

The other Commissioners are:

  • Commissioner Barbara Bennett PSM
  • Commissioner Rhonda Galbally AC
  • Commissioner Andrea Mason OAM
  • Commissioner Alastair McEwin AM
  • Commissioner John Ryan AM.
medal icon

The letters after each commissioner’s name are for awards they have been given:

  • PSM – Public Service Medal
  • AC – Companion of the Order of Australia
  • OAM – Medal of the Order of Australia
  • AM – Member of the Order of Australia.
person with speech bubble icon

Commissioner Sackville gave a speech at each of the workshops.

The workshops were led by:

  • Commissioner Alastair McEwin
  • Ms Chris Ronalds AO SC.

Ms Ronalds is a senior lawyer. She is called the Special Senior Counsel Assisting.

What did Mr Sackville say?

person icon with hand out as if to welcome someone

Commissioner Sackville talked about the work of the Commission.

He talked about:

A woman thinking about people with disability
  • all the experience the lawyers and advocates have working with people with disability
A woman writing something on a clipboard
  • the large amount of work the Commission needs to do.

The Commission needs to look at a lot of problems people with disability have had with things like:

Fist icon for violence
  • violence
Icon of a person looking sad
  • abuse
An icon of a person standing over another person, who is on the ground looking scared
  • exploitation
An icon of a person looking scared with their arms around their legs
  • neglect.
A woman raising her hand to say something about a problem

Many lawyers and advocates know a lot about these problems.

A lawyer helping a woman with disability speak up about a problem

Many of them have been helping people with disability speak up about these problems for years.

A large group of people

Mr Sackville also has experience helping people in the community.

Law and Poverty Report document icon

Over 40 years ago, he worked on an important report – the Law and Poverty Report.

Community legal centre icon with a plus

It said that we needed more community legal centres in Australia.

A man looking in his wallet. There is a law icon above him

These centres help people who can’t afford a lawyer.

Community legal centre icon

At that time, there was only 1 community legal centre.

Lots of community legal centres with 100 + above them

Now, there are over 100.

hand shake icon

Commissioner Sackville thanked everyone for coming to the workshop.

What did people talk about at the workshops?

At the workshops, people talked about the problems people with disability face in 4 main areas:

House icon
  • homes and living
Education icon with books
  • education and learning
Icon of Australia with a money graph going up
  • taking part in our economy – the total amount of goods, services and money that Australia makes and uses
Icons of a courtroom, a lawyer, a jail and a police officer
  • the justice system – including the courts, jails, lawyers and the police.

We explain each of these areas on the following pages.

Homes and living

House icon with a safety icon

It can be hard for people with disability to get good, safe housing.

A house, apart from other houses

Many people with disability live apart from the rest of the community.

A man looking upset with his hand on his head

This can take away their control over their lives.

Icons of 2 people - they are both sad and one has their arms around their legs

Sometimes, people with disability are abused or neglected in these kinds of homes.

A woman raising her hand. There is a house icon next to her

People with disability don’t always get the kind of housing they need.

An accessible ramp into a building

Some people can’t get changes they need made to their homes.

A man who is happy about these changes

The changes would make life easier for them.

Many of the problems are related to:

A house icon and a dollar sign
  • the cost of the housing
A person with a question mark. There is a house and a dollar sign next to the person
  • who pays for the housing.
Government icon paying for housing

At the moment, different areas of government pay for different types of housing.

NDIS logo

For example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) pays for some housing.

Each state government paying for housing

The government in each state pays for other types of housing.

A man looking down with his arms crossed

Even so, some people miss out.

Education and learning

A man pointing to himself. There is an education icon next to him

Education is important to people with disability.

A young man holding up a clipboard with education on it

Getting a good education helps people all through their life.

It helps people to:

A man reading a document with a lightbulb idea icon next to him
  • learn
A man and a woman talking
  • communicate
A group of people standing together
  • take part in our community.
A woman looking upset with her arms crossed. There is an icon of school next to her

Many people with disability face problems at school.

A man holding up a clipboard with a support services icon

They might not get the support they need.

An icon of a person in front of a school

Some people have a disability that affects the way they behave at school.

An icon of a person looking angry, pointing at another person who is sad

Some people are punished for the way they behave.

An icon of a school child wearing a backpack with a cross next to them

Sometimes, students with disability are expelled.

An icon of a school child leaving school

This means that they are asked to leave school.

A parent sending their child to a special school instead of a regular school

Some parents choose to send their child with disability to special schools.

A parent and a child reading a document at home

Others choose to home-school.

This means that the student stays at home to learn instead of going to school.

Taking part in our economy

Icon of Australia with a money graph going up

Our economy is the total amount of goods, services and money that Australia makes and uses.

People with disability can take part in our economy by:

A person going to work with a briefcase
  • working
A man looking in his wallet for money
  • earning money
An icon of a hand spending money
  • spending money.
A man thinking about work

But finding and keeping a job can be hard for many people with disability.

A man looking upset with his arms crossed. He has a barrier in front of him

There are many barriers.

A woman holding a clipboard with a 'test' checklist on it

Sometimes, employers test people before they offer someone a job.

This might be:

A woman holding up a clipboard with a medical test on it
  • medical testing
A man holding a clipboard with an icon for how someone thinks on it. He has a thought bubble
  • cognitive testing – working out how someone thinks.
A briefcase icon for work and a cross

If someone fails these tests, they won’t get the job.

An eye icon with a line across to show that it is being hidden

Because of this, many people choose to hide the fact that they have a disability.

A person being fired for having a disability. His boss is looking angry and pointing for him to leave.

But if their boss finds out that they have a disability, they might lose their job.

Some managers:

A woman looking frustrated, with her hand on her head
  • think it is too hard to employ a person with disability
A woman thinking about supporting a person with disability
  • worry that they might not know how to support a person with disability.
An icon of 3 people talking about Australian Disability Enterprises

At the workshops, we also talked about Australian Disability Enterprises.

A woman pointing to ADE

These are often called ADEs.

An icon of a training presentation

ADEs are places that offer work and training to people with disability.

A person who works for an ADE, looking sad because they don't get paid well enough

Some people think that ADEs don’t pay people with disability well enough.

The justice system

Balance icon for justice

Many people with disability have a hard time using the justice system.

Icons of a courtroom, a lawyer, a jail and a police officer

The justice system includes the courts, jails, lawyers and the police.

An icon of a police officer and a question mark

Sometimes, the police don’t understand how to work with people with disability.

An icon of a man and a woman sitting down and talking. The woman is talking about justice

Or, there is not enough support to help people to use the justice system.

An icon of a jail

Sometimes, jails are used as a place to care for people with disability.

An icon of a large group of people with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags above them

This happens a lot in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

A man holding a clipboard with a justice icon on it

Having a bad experience in the justice system can make a big difference to a person’s life.

Some people need:

NDIS logo
  • support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
Icons for health and medicine
  • health care and medicine
An icon of a jail and an arrow pointing towards a community
  • help to move from jail back into the community.

Summary

A man and a woman looking at a document together

We learned a lot at the workshops.

A man pointing to himself

We learned that, when people with disability experience abuse or other problems, it affects their whole life.

A man holding up a clipboard with a support services icon

Many people don’t get the kind of support they need.

Government icon paying for housing

Some problems are caused because different parts of the government pay for different things.

NDIS logo

For example, the NDIS pays for some types of support but not all.

A large group of people with disability with an important icon above them

People at the workshops said it’s important that the Commissioners talk to all people with disability.

This includes people who might:

A house separated from other houses
  • live in housing that is separate to the rest of the community
A man and a woman talking
  • find it hard to communicate.

What will happen next?

man pointing at clipboard with workshop icon and three stacked calendars above him.

There will be more workshops and hearings in the future.

man writing on clipboard with lightbulb icon above him.

Soon, people will be able to make submissions to the Commission.

These are documents that explain your experience or ideas.

man with his hand raised and mouth open like he wants to say something

We will give you a chance to have your say.

Website icon

To stay in touch with the work we are doing, please visit our website.

email newsletter icon

You can sign up for our email newsletter to receive updates.

Word list

man with his arms crossed. another man stands in front of him speaking with his hand raised, there is also a megaphone icon.

Advocate

Someone who speaks up for people with disability.

Icon of 3 commissioners with a gavel in front of them

Commissioners

The people leading the Royal Commission.

Icon of Australia with a money graph going up

Economy

The total amount of goods, services and money that Australia makes and uses.

An icon of a school child leaving school

Expelled

When someone is asked to leave school.

Balance icon for justice

Justice system

The courts, jails, lawyers and the police.

A parent and a child reading a document at home

Home-school

A student stays at home to learn instead of going to school.

A lawyer with a law icon next to her

Lawyer

A person with experience in law.

man writing on clipboard with lightbulb icon above him.

Submission

A document that explains an experience or idea.