The Disability Royal Commission and the Right to Inclusive Education

“Low expectations for children with disability have made it hard at times for people to recognise poor practice as potentially neglectful or exploitative” Robinson, S. & Healey, A. (2020). Factsheet 1: What is violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children and young people with disability? Children and Young People with Disability Australia (cyda): Melbourne

Laura Jones, Leticia Grant and Mary Butterworth on behalf of DDWA recently attended an insightful workshop delivered by CYDA – Children and Young People with Disability Australia – on making a submission to the Disability Royal Commission, with a particular focus on education. Laura writes:

“It was such a valuable workshop and made it very clear that so very many people I know in different ways (my former students, their families, my colleagues past and present, many of my friends) have critically important stories to share with the Disability Royal Commission, particularly with regard to its focus on education. Whilst the terms of the Disability Royal Commission focus on violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, it was explained that these terms have very broad definitions within the scope of the DRC and therefore, would include so many incidences I know friends, families, students and colleagues have experienced – directly, or indirectly. Neglect, for example, can include the neglect of rights to inclusive education through gate-keeping.

There are so many ways to make a submission and I really would encourage people to consider doing so. This is a once in our life time opportunity to give input to the recommendations that the DRC will make. You can make a phone call, you can jump online and make a submission digitally, you can attach a video message, or a piece of artwork, you can submit handwritten information. You can submit once and refer to many different incidences in one go or you can submit as many times as you wish or need to. You can make a submission in any language and the DRC will arrange interpreting / translating. You can choose to make an anonymous submission, you can choose to de-identify every detail, you can choose whether or not to leave contact details, whether or not you consent to the DRC contacting you after your submission. You can access free, confidential legal advice if you are at all concerned about the possible ramifications for you in making a submission. You can make a submission that is relevant to a current situation, a recent situation, or a historic situation. There are some brilliant fact sheets for more information available here at cyda and below is a handy infographic about making a submission.

If you would like to chat about this, please don’t hesitate for a moment to get in touch with us.” 

CYDA (Children and Young People with Disability Australia) has developed a workbook for preparing a submission around Education. Click the link below.

Download Workbook here: Making a submission on Education

Find more information from the Royal Commission website here:

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was established on 4 April 2019 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AL MC (Retired).

The Disability Royal Commission will investigate:
• preventing and better protecting people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
• achieving best practice in reporting, investigating and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability
• promoting a more inclusive society that supports people with disability to be independent and live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Disability Royal Commission will investigate and report on experiences and conditions in all settings and contexts, including:
• schools
• workplaces
• jails
• group homes or boarding houses
• family homes
• hospitals
• day programs

The Disability Royal Commission gathers information through research, public hearings, the personal experiences people share through submissions, private sessions, and other forums. A final report will be made to the Australian Government by 29 April 2022. In this report, the Royal Commission will recommend how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society.
• A5 brochure: About the Disability Royal Commission
• First Progress Report, December 2019

Workshops are being held across Australia so people can learn more about the Disability Royal Commission and how to get involved:

February 2020
February 18 – 28: Public hearing – Health, Sydney
March 2020
March 5 – 6: Engagement with First Nations people, organisations – Queensland
March 17 – 19: Community engagement activities – Launceston & Burnie, Tasmania
March 24 – 27: Public hearing – Education, Brisbane
April 2020
April 1 – 3: Community engagement activities – regional Victoria
April 21 – 22: Community engagement activities – Western Sydney
April 27 – 1 May: Public hearing – Justice, Brisbane
May 2020
May 6 – 7: Community engagement activities – Brisbane
May 13 – 15: Engagement with First Nations people – Northern Territory
May 18 – 22: Public hearing – Issues faced by and experiences of First Nations people with disability, Northern Territory
May 25 – 26: Engagement with First Nations people – Northern Territory
June 2020
June 10 – 12: Public hearing – Accommodation, Tasmania
June 16 – 18: Community engagement activities – Far North Queensland
Please note, this calendar does not necessarily include all activities and engagements that the Royal Commission will undertake and is subject to change. This calendar will be updated with additional details and/or changes as more information becomes available.

To submit your story using the Royal Commission’s online forms, see the links below:

You can share your experiences of violence, neglect, abuse or exploitation with the Royal Commission:
• in writing, over the phone, in a video or audio recording by making a submission
• in a private session with a Commissioner
A5 Brochure: Sharing your experience with the Disability Royal Commission

Hearing from people with disability, families, support people, organisations and the broader community helps the Royal Commission understand the extent and the impact of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation against people with disability; and to help make recommendations to prevent it from happening again.
Sharing your experiences with the Royal Commission will help them to:
• understand the extent of the problem
• learn more about the contexts in which abuse is more likely to occur
• understand the impacts on people with disability, their families, support people and our community
• gather information relevant to our investigations and research program.
The Royal Commission cannot decide or resolve individual cases or award compensation.
The Royal Commission acknowledges that coming forward to share your experience is a big step and want to make it as easy as possible. You can ask for any support you need. Counselling and support is available to help you.