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Public hearing 23 of the Disability Royal Commission is a case study looking at preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services.

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Content Warning 

Some of the stories and information below may contain details about abuse, neglect and mistreatment of people with disabilities. You can find help if you have any concerns because of this information.

How can I attend? 

The Royal Commission will hold a public hearing from 16 to 20 May 2022.

The Royal Commission’s twenty-third public hearing will commence on 16 May 2022 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney (Public hearing 23). The hearing will be open to the public and will be live streamed on the Royal Commission website.

The live stream and video recordings include Auslan, captions and audio-only options. There are transcripts available in PDF and DOCX formats.

What is it about?

Public hearing 23 is the fourth in the series of Royal Commission hearings examining the role and responsibility of disability service providers to prevent and respond to violence against, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability to whom they are providing services. In the course of this examination, the Royal Commission will also inquire into how the current systems of funding and oversight of disability services protect people with disability from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Public hearing 23 will focus on the experiences of people with disability (and their families) who received services from the NDIS registered service provider Australian Foundation for Disability (Afford). It will also examine Afford’s structure, governance, policies and processes and how those may have affected the safety and quality of services provided to people with disability, and attempt to identify broader systemic issues exemplified by this case study.

Evidence will be presented at the hearing on the following matters:

  • the services provided by Afford, with a particular focus on day programs and the experiences of people with disability who participated in one of Afford’s day programs in western Sydney between 2018 and 2021
  • Afford’s response to the abuse of several people with disability participating in its day program in western Sydney, by a support worker, in 2019
  • measures taken by Afford to prevent and respond to the abuse of people with disability participating in their day programs
  • Afford’s governance, management and staffing arrangements and how they affected the quality of services provided to, and safety of, people with disability participating in their day programs
  • Afford’s systems and training in respect of prevention, recording, reporting and responding to incidents of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation, handling complaints and communicating with families of participants attending day programs
  • how day program services were charged by Afford and paid for through participants’ NDIS Plans
  • recent organisational and governance changes made by Afford to prevent and respond to violence against and/or abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability to whom it is providing services
  • the external oversight and regulation by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and/or the NDIA of the quality of Afford’s services to NDIS participants and Afford’s charging of fees to NDIS participants’ plan funding.

Live stream

This live stream/recording has closed captions and Auslan translations. In addition, there is an audio-only stream option. Recordings can be accessed by clicking on Event Posts in the top right-hand corner of the video frame.

Witness List

Official Transcripts 

Media coverage

16 May 2022

Royal Commission Media Release

Impact of Afford’s rapid growth on safety and quality to be examined by Royal Commission

In a five-day hearing commencing on Monday 16 May, the Royal Commission will examine the role and responsibilities of the Australian Foundation for Disability (Afford) to safeguard participants in their day programs from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.


Royal Commission into Disability hears from mother of an abused man

Concerns have been raised over a western Sydney site run by Afford, where a number of participants were abused. The abuse included having their photographs taken in intimate situations and shared with other people.

17 May 2022


NDIS participant complained of being ‘hosed down like a dog’ by service provider, amid claims of lavish spending

A daycare provider allegedly hosed down a man and splurged on things other than clients, it has been revealed in explosive testimony.

The Guardian, Australia

Young men abused by a carer in Sydney never got compensation or a written apology, disability inquiry told

The families of two young men with disabilities who were abused by a carer have told an inquiry they never received a formal apology or compensation from the provider.

Support Services

Your Story Disability Legal Support is a free, independent legal service supporting people with disabilities to share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission safely.

The Disability Royal Commission has set up support services for people with disabilities affected by or interacting with the Commission process. These supports include counselling, advocacy, and financial and legal help. For more information and links, read our resource on Royal Commission Support Services.

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline is a free, independent and confidential service for reporting mistreatment of people with disabilities. 

Contact the Disability Royal Commission 

Call 1800 517 199
Visit the Commission website 
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