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This hearing of the Disability Royal Commission is a case study focusing on Sunnyfield disability services and will explore the prevention of exploitation, abuse and neglect of people with disability in disability services.

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Content Warning 

Some of the stories and information below contain details about abuse, neglect and mistreatment of people with disability. There is support if you have any concerns because of this information.

How can I attend? 

Due to COVID-19, the hearing is not open to the public. It is available to watch or listen to online via the live stream. The public hearing will happen in Homebush from Monday, 24 May to Friday, 28 May 2021. 

What is it about? 

This public hearing will explore the prevention of exploitation, abuse and neglect of people with disability in disability services. This hearing is a case study looking at Sunnyfield services. 

The hearing will be the first of several Royal Commission hearings examining how disability service providers prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. 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 13 will focus on a case study about the recent experiences of people with a disability residing in a house in western Sydney, NSW, operated by a non-government disability service provider, Sunnyfield Disability Services. It is anticipated that evidence will be presented relating to this case study that highlights broader systemic issues to be examined in subsequent public hearings. The hearing will examine:

1. the experiences of three people with a disability residing at the house over approximately four years, including:

  • how their NDIS-funded services and supports were provided
  • how their agreements for accommodation and support services from Sunnyfield operated
  • how Sunnyfield communicated with and provided information to their families
  • how Sunnyfield responded when incidents occurred or complaints were made

2. Sunnyfield’s policies, systems and operations

3. the external oversight of disability services, from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and others, to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and to respond when complaints or allegations are made,

4. any related matters.

Live stream

Closed captions and Auslan translations provided as well as an audio-only stream

Witness List

Witness list

Official Transcripts 



Media Coverage

Sydney Morning Herald

Sunnyfield rejected Ombudsman’s offer to conciliate dispute, disability royal commission hears

The disability service provider that sought to evict a client from her home because of her sister’s complaints declined the NSW Ombudsman’s offer to conciliate the dispute, the disability royal commission has heard.

Mother of blind son in care home feared for his life, royal commission hears

The mother of a disabled man who was allegedly punched and kicked by his support worker in his care home says she lost trust in the staff and feared for her son’s life, the disability royal commission has heard.

Disabled woman given eviction notice as sister was reputational risk, royal commission told

The chief executive of a disability service provider that tried to evict a client says the action was taken because the client’s sister – who made several complaints – risked damaging the organisation’s reputation, the disability royal commission has heard.

ABC News

Melissa and Carl's families thought they’d be safe in a group home. The reality was very different

Sunnyfield acknowledged this week at the commission that it had failed to protect three residents with profound disabilities — two of them being Melissa and Carl.

A report by the organisation's chief executive described a pattern of behaviour by the two workers as "staff bullying, racism, intimidation, deceit, absconding from duties, not adhering to client schedules, cover-up, condonement of laziness (and) falsifying records.

Support Services

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

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

More Information

Go to Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability for our full coverage on the Disability Royal Commission or choose from some of the past hearings listed below. 

Past Hearings

Public hearing to examine the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out for people with disability 
Disability Royal Commission looks at the criminal justice system 
Disability Royal Commission explores education and training of health care professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability 
Disability Royal Commission explores pathways and barriers to open employment for people with disability 
Disability Royal Commission looks at First Nations People with a Disability
Disability Royal Commission explores barriers to education 
Disability Royal Commission hearing on the use of psychotropic medication 
Disability Royal Commission Hearing on Emergency Planning 

Disability Royal Commission 

Phone: 1800 517 199
Web: disability.royalcommission.gov.au 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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