Disability Royal Commission seeking feedback on violence and abuse at home

People with a disability who have experienced violence in their homes are being invited to share their experiences with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation.

The Royal Commission has identified violence and abuse of people with disability in their homes, often known as domestic and family violence, as a key area of inquiry and is seeking comment on an issues paper on this matter.

Violence and abuse may happen in all types of homes and accommodation, including private homes, group homes, out of home care, boarding houses and shelters. It can also happen when people are experiencing homelessness.

As well as violence and abuse by intimate partners, the issues paper looks at violence against people with disability by extended family and kinship networks, support workers, co-residents, parents, housemates, and by adult children and others against older people with disability.

People with disability are more than twice as likely to feel unsafe in their home as people without disability.

Women and girls particularly are at risk from intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual violence, while men with disability are also more likely to experience all these forms of violence and abuse than men without disability, particularly physical violence.

Children with disability can experience violence and abuse in all types of homes: from parents, step parents, other family members, carers, support workers or other children.

Specific forms of violence and abuse against people with disability in the home may include withholding of food, water, medication, or personal care such as toileting; they may face barriers when they seek help, such as a lack of accessible information.

Barriers can also include discrimination, attitudes and a lack of knowledge or confidence in assisting people with disability.

Research conducted for the Royal Commission by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that First Nations women with disability were more likely to experience physical violence, sexual violence and coercive control than non-Indigenous women with disability. The report also showed that First Nations women with disability experienced high rates of emotionally abusive, harassing and controlling behaviours.

Studies also have revealed a lack of specific, culturally safe services for First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability who have experienced domestic and family violence.

The Royal Commission wants to hear from people with disability about the changes needed to make them feel safe in their homes. It would also welcome input from organisations about how they can better respond to and prevent violence against people with disability in their homes.

It also would like to understand how laws, policies and practices could ensure people with disability live free from violence and abuse at home, and do not experience homelessness.

One of the issues the Royal Commission is exploring is whether all violence and abuse that occurs in places where people with disability live should be considered under domestic and family violence law and policy.

The Issues Paper includes a range of questions which can be used as a guide to help prompt those wanting to provide input, including:

  • The impact of violence and abuse in the home
  • The experiences of women and girls, and First Nations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people
  • How services work to prevent or protect people from violence.

People with disability and organisations can respond to this issues paper by 26 February, 2021 in writing, by phoning, or by an audio or video recording.

Responses to this issues paper can be provided by:

  • email to DRCEnquiries@royalcommission.gov.au
  • letter to GPO Box 1422, BRISBANE QLD 4001
  • phone on 1800 517 199 or +61 7 3734 1900 (between 9:00am to 6:00pm AEDT Monday to Friday). We can make a time with you to take your response over the phone.
  • All responses will inform the work of the Royal Commission and may be made public unless there is a request for anonymity.

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