As you’ve probably heard through the media, there is a Royal Commission into the disability sector underway. This is good news. Here we have created some information for you to read so that you have a good understanding of why it’s important to the sector and what it means for Unisson.

Read through detailed information about the Royal Commission into Disability Public Hearings or find more information about the Issues Papers that have been released and their due dates for submissions.

There are also three new videos now available to help you understand the role and work of the Royal Commission:

About the Disability Royal Commission

Public hearings 

Sharing your experience 

The Disability Royal Commission is also providing free counselling and support to anyone who may be experiencing difficulties sharing their experiences. Visit the Royal Commission Counselling and Support resources to find out more information.


The Disability Royal Commission recently published an interim report advising what it has done in its first 15 months. Read through the key findings below as well as a few of the emerging themes and future directions.


The Interim Report says people with disability experience attitudinal, environmental, institutional and communication barriers to achieving inclusion within Australian society.  It shows that a great deal still needs to be done to ensure that the human rights of people with disability are respected and that Australia becomes a truly inclusive society.

The Interim Report is based on information from the hearings relating to education, group homes and healthcare for people with cognitive disability, as well as 1,237 submissions received and several community forums, workshops and private sessions. While the report has identified themes and emerging issues, it does not include any recommendations.


The Royal Commission has heard about a number of key issues including education, homes and living, healthcare, relationships, community participation, economic participation, the NDIS and the justice system. These issues are often connected to the emerging themes that have been identified, suggesting that the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation experienced by people with disability is not limited to discrete settings or contexts.


The following themes have emerged as particularly pertinent to the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

  • - Choice and control – people’s ability to make choices can be limited, including where and who they live with, their health care, education, work, and their experiences in the community.
  • - Attitudes towards disability – there can be negative or harmful attitudes towards people with disability, which can contribute to violence, abuse and neglect.
  • - Segregation and exclusion – abuse and neglect often occur in segregated settings, such as institutions and other settings that are segregated from the general community (education, employment, group homes, etc).
  • - Restrictive practices – high use of restrictive practices was reported in a number of settings, including physical and environmental restraints in group homes.
  • - Access to services and supports – there are a number of barriers that people with disability experience accessing supports and services, including attitudinal, institutional, environmental and communication barriers, as well as a lack of available support in certain areas.
  • - Advocacy and representation – increased advocacy was reported to be one mechanism to address violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, and to make society more inclusive.
  • - Oversight and complaints – people experience difficulties reporting or complaining about things they are unhappy about; incidents are often ignored or minimised; people experience retribution for making complaints; complaints systems are not always accessible; reporting and investigating are not independent and often re-traumatise the victim.
  • - Funding – access to supports and services can be limited by funding; there can be conflicts of interest and poorer outcomes for people depending on their funding.



The Royal Commission is continuing to explore all of these issues, with a focus on engaging with marginalised groups, including First Nations people; people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds; and people who live in remote and rural areas.

The Royal Commission is also continuing to release a variety of Issues Papers for people to make submissions and has released a schedule of hearings for 2021. All information (including the Interim Report, Issues Papers and Hearings schedule) is available on their website:

Latest News

June 21, 2021

Decision to postpone public hearing 15 until August 2021 due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns

The Disability Royal Commission has decided that public hearing 15, scheduled to take place in Brisbane on 23 and 24 June, will be postponed until August 2021.

This follows advice from NSW Health that at least one person in the building where the DRC’s Sydney office is located has tested positive for COVID-19. Sydney-based Commissioners and staff who were in the building on 15-16 June have been required to be tested for COVID-19 and to isolate until their results are known. This is unlikely to be before Tuesday 22 June at the earliest. 

While the Royal Commission regrets the need to postpone the hearing to a later date in August, it is considered the most practical and prudent course considering the NSW Health advice and the health, well-being and safety of Commissioners, DRC staff, witnesses appearing at the public hearing and members of the public.

Read the full media release on the Royal Commission Website.

June 10, 2021

Disability Royal Commission welcomes Dr Dinesh Palipana as a special adviser

Chair of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, Ronald Sackville AO QC, is delighted to announce the appointment of Queensland doctor and lawyer Dinesh Palipana OAM as the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Senior Adviser to the Disability Royal Commission.

Dr Palipana was the first quadriplegic medical graduate and medical intern in Queensland, and as co-founder of Doctors with Disabilities Australia, he has helped develop national policies for inclusivity in medical education and employment.

Now a senior resident at Gold Coast University Hospital, Dr Palipana also holds a degree in law, and was recently admitted as a Legal Practitioner in the state of Queensland.

He has been widely recognised for his extraordinary achievements and contribution to the Australian community. He is the current Queensland Australian of the Year and is a recipient of the Order of Australia.

Read the full media release on the Royal Commission Website.


A Royal Commission is a major and formal public enquiry into a specific issue of public interest and of great importance. Royal Commissions operate from “Terms of Reference” which define the purpose and structure of the Royal Commission.

The most recent Royal Commissions have included:

- 2018-present: Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

- 2017-2019: Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry

- 2016-2017: Royal Commission into the Child Protection and Youth Detention Systems of the Government of the Northern Territory

- 2013-2017: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

View the list of all Royal Commissions in Australia.


The Royal Commission into the Disability Sector is officially called the "Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability". Details of the Royal Commission will be updated as the Royal Commission progresses. 

The core purpose of this enquiry is to ensure people with disability are not subjected to violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation. The terms of the Royal Commission are intentionally broad, including all types of disability, all settings and not including any time restrictions. Following their investigation, the Royal Commission is instructed to make recommendations for future improvements.

We believe that this Royal Commission will be an important way to drive positive change for people with disability, so we'll be supporting it with everything we've got.

Read through the below easy read documents to understand exactly what the Royal Commission into the Disability Sector is.

- The Australian Governments Department of Social Services - Do You Need Support?

- Council for Intellectual Disability - What is the Disability Royal Commission?

This short video is also available to help you understand more - About the Disability Royal Commission


A Royal Commission shines a light on a sector and specifically the policies, processes, and practices of organisations within the sector.

The core purpose of this enquiry is to ensure people with disability are not subjected to violence, abuse, neglect, or exploitation. We support this enquiry wholeheartedly, knowing that it will bring about positive changes for people with disability in our country.

Unisson wholeheartedly supports the Royal Commission and continues to take a proactive approach to ensure we are a leader in delivering safe and inclusive supports and positive change for people with disability.

We will continue to update this page regularly with information from the Royal Commission. You can also sign up to the Royal Commission's Media Mailing List to receive direct updates.

We will be sending regular updates to our clients and their families. To ensure you are signed up to our newsletter please Subscribe to The Pulse.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact our CEO, David Kneeshaw, directly by completing the below form.

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