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Public hearing 20 continues the series of 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 disabilities from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Skip to: Live stream | Witnesses | Transcripts | Media coverage | Support services | More info 

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’s twentieth public hearing commenced on 7 December 2021 and will continue into the week beginning 13 December 2021 (Public hearing 20). Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and impacts, most witnesses will participate remotely and the hearing will be conducted online. The hearing will not be open to the public but will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission website.

 The live stream will include Auslan, captions and audio-only options. 

What is it about?

Public hearing 20 will focus on two case studies relating to the experiences of people with disabilities who received accommodation and support services from Life Without Barriers. One case study will focus on a group home in Victoria and the other on a group home in northern New South Wales.

The hearing will examine:

  • how Life Without Barriers responded when people with disabilities to whom it was providing services were the subject of abuse by a support worker and/or a third party and whether it took adequate steps to prevent that abuse
  • issues of resident-to-resident violence and how Life Without Barriers sought to prevent and respond to that violence
  • how funding for services and supports impacted people with disabilities and may have rendered them vulnerable to ongoing violence and abuse
  • how Life Without Barrier’s structures, governance, systems and culture may have affected the services and supports provided to the people with disabilities who are the focus of the case studies
  • 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
  • any related matters.

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

7 December 2021

The Guardian

Disability royal commission: woman with disability sexually assaulted in park after men banned from visiting her accommodation

A woman with cerebral palsy was sexually assaulted in a public park after her disability accommodation provider refused to let her meet her date in her own home, the disability royal commission has heard.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Disabled woman ‘furious’ at lack of support over sex education

A disabled woman who was raped by a man she met through an online dating site has told the disability royal commission she was “dead furious” at the support workers at her former group home for their failure to support her with relationships and sex.

13 December 2021

The Guardian

NDIS provider rejected woman’s claim she was pushed over by employee in flawed investigation, royal commission hears

A national disability insurance scheme provider did not accept a woman’s claim she was physically assaulted by a support worker even though the employee admitted pushing the client to the ground, the disability royal commission has heard.

14 December 2021

The Canberra Times

Disability home CEO faces royal commission

Life Without Barriers chief executive Claire Robbs will on Tuesday give evidence relating to testimony from residents and their family members about incidents at the company's homes in Melbourne and Lismore.


16 December

The Guardian

NDIS provider apologises to group home residents after allegations of violence and neglect

One of Australia’s largest national disability insurance scheme providers has apologised to the residents of two troubled group homes after allegations of violence, abuse and neglect were aired at an inquiry.


Life Without Barriers CEO apologises at Disability Royal Commission

On Rn Breakfast with Cathy Van Extel

The CEO of Life Without Barriers has given evidence to the seven-day inquiry which focused on homes in northern New South Wales and Melbourne.

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, 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. 

More Information

All our coverage of the Disability Royal Commission is here: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability; otherwise, please choose from the list of past hearings below. 

Past Hearings

Royal Commission - Measures taken by employers and regulators to respond to the systemic barriers to open employment for people with disability
Royal Commission looks at the human rights of people with disability and making the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality in Australian law, policies and practice 
Royal Commission investigates experience of women and girls with disability 
Royal Commission looks at First Nations children with disability in out-of-home care 
Disability Royal Commission investigates People with cognitive disability and the Criminal justice system and NDIS
Royal Commission looks at the Ann-Marie Smith case and continues investigating abuse in disability support services 
Disability Royal Commission looks at preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services 
Public hearing to examine the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out for people with disability     
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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