16 Jul
Key Royal Commission terms to understand

Key Royal Commission terms to understand

The terms of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability is what the Disability Royal Commission is looking at, so it’s important to have a good understanding of these terms.  

This also helps you recognise and speak up about these experiences if they happen to you. 

Key definitions 

Violence and abuse  

Violence is if someone is hurting you physically. Abuse is if someone is treating you badly. 

This may include: 

  • Physical or sexual assault 
  • Constraints and restrictive practices (chemical and physical) 
  • Any treatments or interventions that were forced upon you 
  • Ongoing and targeted violations of privacy or dignity 
  • Instances of humiliation or harassment 
  • Financial and economic abuse 


Neglect is when someone is not helping you in the way that they should. 

This includes times when someone doesn’t think about your wants or needs, or keeps you away from basic necessities like: 

  • Shelter  
  • Food and drink 
  • Access to places 
  • Clothing 
  • Education 
  • Medical care or treatment 

This could be intentional or unintentional, and either a single incident or ongoing. 


This happens when someone takes advantage of someone else.  

Exploitation involves the inappropriate use of a person with disability, and restricting access to that person’s: 

  • Assets and resources 
  • Employment 
  • Labour 

This includes taking physical, sexual, or financial advantage of someone. 

Common terms  

We’ve also provided some helpful definitions of terms used within the Commission. 

Submission: A submission is when you share your experience with the Royal Commission. This can be done online, on the phone, as an audio or video recording, or in person.  

The Commission welcomes submissions about these experiences from people with disability, organisations, and the general public. 

Public hearings: This is a public event where the Commissioners gather evidence from witnesses who speak about their experiences with violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  

They are held across Australia and can be accessed online with captions and Auslan interpretation. 

Witness: This is someone who appears at a public hearing and gives evidence. You could choose to participate or be required to attend. You do not need to be a witness to give evidence – you can make a submission instead. 

Issue papers: These are reports created by the Commissioners that ask for feedback and information from people with disability and the community.  

Each one focuses on a different area of investigation and offers questions that people can choose to answer when making a submission. More info on this one coming shortly. 

We understand that the Disability Royal Commission may trigger difficult feelings for many. Free specialist counselling services are available for all people affected by the Commission.  

Contact the Blue Knot Foundation on 1800 421 468 (9am to 6pm AEST Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST weekends and public holidays). 

For further enquiries, contact the Royal Commission on email or at 1800 517 199