‘Disturbing’: Bombshell report to be released

NATIONAL ROYAL COMMISSON CLOSING CEREMONY
The Disability Royal Commission has heard details of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation from thousands. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift

A long-awaited report on the disability royal commission will contain “disturbing” findings.

The government is set to hand down findings from a four-and-a-half year-long investigation into violence and abuse against people with disabilities in Australia on Friday.

Since it began in 2019, the $599m inquiry has heard harrowing accounts of sexual assaults, abuse in group homes, and violence from tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families.

But ahead of its release, the government was staying tight lipped on whether it would adopt any of the recommendations.

Families and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth on Friday morning said the government would be closely examining its findings.

“Obviously we need to make sure people with disability have choice and control,” she told ABC Radio.

“These are some of the themes that came out of the disability royal commission, but certainly how we build a more inclusive society so that people with disability don’t constantly have barriers to their participation in wider society is really important.”

Earlier, Environment Services Minister Tanya Plibersek said she anticipated the final report would make for a “disturbing reading.”

“We constantly have heard stories that are disturbing stories about the abuse and neglect of people with disability,” she told Sky on Thursday.

“The important thing now is to make sure people with disabilities can live safely, can be part of our community in safety, that the institutions that are supposed to support and look after them are surely doing that.”

Commissioners delivered a final report on Thursday in Canberra, where it will be tabled in parliament for public release on Friday.

Robodebt Royal Commission
Then-Labor leader Bill Shorten ramped up calls for a disability royal commission in 2019. Picture: Liam Kidston

A total of $599.3 million was spent on the investigation and it is expected to detail an overhaul of how disability support services are delivered and accessed in Australia.

One of the most shocking stories heard during the inquiry came from a young Queensland woman with cerebral palsy, who told a hearing in 2022 she was raped, beaten and “treated like a dog” by a paid personal assistant.

Another heard from a mother of a severely autistic man who said her son was “put in a cage” while living in a disability group home.

Other hearings held across the country heard detailed accounts of disability service providers forcing clients to take psychotropic drugs to control their behaviour.

One mother told a hearing in Victoria in 2020 that her son who lived with intellectual disability “looked like a zombie” after returning home from Christmas after moving into a group disability home.

Since it began, the royal commission has held a total 32 hearings, 1,785 private sessions and received 7,944 submissions.