CEO’s take on the findings of the Disability Royal Commission 

What was the result of the Disability Royal Commission – CEO Stu Schonell 

On the 30th of June the Disability Royal Commission ended after a number of years of evidence gathering and hearings. What we discovered about the way people with disability have been treated in this country was quite horrendous, and the hearts of all staff at Advocacy WA go out to those that have suffered so greatly. We have supported many clients through the hearings and suffered with them as old hurts were dredged up and deep wounds were reopened. I thought it timely to do a recap of the findings. 


The DRC found there was a lack of oversight of service provision, a focus on safeguarding the organisation rather than people with disability, and a workforce that lacks the necessary training, mentorship and supervision. People with disability living in institutions and group homes were more likely to experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in these segregated settings. Regardless of where a person with disability lives or works they must be afforded the opportunity to exercise choice and self-determination. Inclusion is a right of every Australian! 

Women and girls with disability are disproportionately affected by domestic and sexual violence: 

Not only are they more likely to experience domestic and sexual violence than women and girls without disability but it is less likely to be reported and more likely to be on the extreme end of domestic and sexual violence. First Nations women and girls with disability are even more likely to suffer violence. The DRC found that disability service organisations were not providing culturally appropriate support in these cases and employed staff with little training on how to identify and respond to these horrific issues.  

Children in detention: 

Children with disability are disproportionately represented in the child protection and criminal justice systems and are more likely to be removed from their families. How can this be? Children with disability face discrimination, segregation and a lack of access to support. We see this far too regularly at Advocacy WA, with clients coming in for help with discrimination their child is facing at school, or a justice system that they do not understand. 


People with disability have a significantly higher risk of homelessness, particularly when leaving prison. Added to their higher risk of incarceration and the dual stigmas they face (disability and ex-prisoner), one must wonder if Australia is following the United Nations Convention for People with Disabilities at all. 

Case study – abuse and neglect of the highest order: 

In 2020 two brothers were found by police, locked in their bedroom, living in filth, naked, malnourished, neglected and deprived of human rights. Their controlling father, deceased in the other room, had for years refused government services or intervention, afraid it may affect his pension. Despite numerous Child Protection notifications and Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Team System (SCAN) reports, neglect of these boys continued for over 10 years. Government departments and agencies were aware of the risks to both boys. While agencies and departments agreed that they could have done more, this was simply not good enough in a wealthy country like Australia and the case underpins the systemic problems faced by people with disability.