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‘Respectful Listening’ artwork and animated story by Wiradjuri Artist Uncle Paul Constable Calcott.
© Paul Constable Calcott 2020

‘Respectful Listening’ depicts the story of The Disability Royal Commission, translated into a traditional style of art and symbols used by many of Australia’s First Peoples to share information and stories for thousands of years. This story is made up of seven people who are respected and knowledgeable members of their own communities. These seven people, known as the Commissioners, come from different community groups including Australia’s First People, people living with disability and the LGBTIQ+ community. They are represented in the story using the symbol for Elder to show they are respected members of their own community. These commissioners will travel through many regions and communities over the next three years collecting stories and sharing information, shown as a message stick, from people who may have experienced violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Read the Disability Royal Commission’s Media Release ‘First Nations artist depicts Disability Royal Commission story’ here

What is a Royal Commission?

A Royal Commission is the highest form of public enquiry, independent of government, that looks closely at a widely reported problem or issue impacting on vulnerable groups.

The job of the Royal Commission is to gather stories and evidence from people with disability who are experiencing or have experienced violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and their witnesses. Royal Commissions make recommendations to government about what should change. The Royal Commission is for all people with disability.

violence abuse neglect and exploitation

 What does Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation mean?

  • Violence  If someone is hurting your body
  • Abuse  If someone is treating you badly
  • Neglect  If someone is not helping you the way they are supposed to help you
  • Exploitation  If someone is taking advantage of you

Who is in charge and makes decisions?

Six Commissioners have been appointed to run the Royal Commission to listen to stories and gather evidence. The Royal Commissioners are not part of the government. Our First Nations Commissioner is Andrea Mason, OAM, a Ngaanyatjarra and Kronie woman from Western Australia.

Sharing your story

Staying safe: The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of people with disability can trigger bad memories or feelings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people with disability, their families, carers and communities.

If you tell your story to the Royal Commission your identity and story is confidential and can’t be shared with anyone without your permission.

If you feel scared, unsafe or just need someone to talk to there are free services that can support you with your Royal Commission journey. Your privacy and identity will be protected by these services. Click to find the right service for you below. 

FPDN Indigenous Advocates

FPDN Indigenous Advocates provide a culturally safe space to have a yarn, and your business will be kept secret.

You can call and FPDN Indigenous Advocate on 02 9267 4195

Or click here to email an FPDN Indigenous Advocate

Trauma and Counselling support services

Blue Knot Foundation Counselling and Referral Support phone 1800 421 468

Beyond Blue Support Service – phone 1300 224 636, webchat or email (24 hours/7 days) for free, immediate, short-term counselling, advice and referral services.

Beyond Blue immediate support

Lifeline Crisis Support – phone 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days) or chat to a crisis supporter online (7pm – midnight/7 nights). This is a confidential service providing you with support for when you feel overwhelmed, for when you have difficulty coping, or are thinking about suicide.

1800Respect – phone 1800 737 732 Open 24 hours to support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse

Relationships Australia

Disability Royal Commission Counselling Services

To access a Relationships Australia service near you, please find details below:

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Relationships Australia Canberra and Region provides services in ACT and surrounding region.
Phone: 02 6122 7100
Email: [email protected]

New South Wales (NSW)
Relationships Australia New South Wales provides services in NSW.
Phone: (02)  9418 8800
Email: [email protected]

Victoria (VIC)
Relationships Australia Victoria provides services in VIC.
Phone: 1 800 317 387
Email: [email protected]

Tasmania (TAS)
Relationships Australia Tasmania provides services in TAS.
Phone: 1300 364 277

South Australia (SA)
Relationships Australia South Australia provides services in SA.
Phone: 1 800 577 571
Email: [email protected]

Western Australia (WA)
Relationships Australia Western Australia provides services in WA.
Phone: 08 6164 0180
Email: [email protected]

Northern Territory (NT)
Relationships Australia Northern Territory provides services in NT.
Darwin: (08) 8923 4999
Alice Springs: (08) 8950 4100
Email: [email protected]

If you have difficulty hearing or speaking

If you find it difficult to hear or speak you can contact us through the National Relay Service (NRS). Please phone 133 677.

Other Languages

If you require support in another language, including Indigenous languages, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) free of charge on 131 450 and ask to be connected to the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468.

Find an advocate to help you

If you think you might want to tell your story to the Royal Commission but need advice or support, you have the right to talk to someone about it first and decide if you want to participate. These services can help you to tell your story. Find an advocate to help near you.

find an advocate

I want to tell my story to the Royal Commission

There are a few different ways you can tell your story to the Royal Commission. You have the right to be supported by a family member, friend or someone you trust.

A Royal Commission Counselling and Support team are available to help you with counselling and support at all community forums, public hearings or private sessions,

You can share your story in your first language, including Indigenous languages and Auslan.

Find more information below.

Sharing your story

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) person with a disability, and you have experienced violence, abuse neglect or exploitation, the Royal Commission would like to hear from you. We also want to hear from families, friends, and support people of First Nations people with disability.

Information for First Nations People

Make your submission

You can make a submission in writing, over the phone, in a video or audio recording.

Make your submission now

Private Session

You can tell your story in a private session with a Commissioner. You can ask to speak privately with our First Nations Commissioner Andrea Mason.

Apply for a private session

Get help with your submission

If you think you might want to tell your story to the Royal Commission but need advice or support, you have the right to talk to someone about it first and decide if you want to participate. These services can help you to tell your story. Find an advocate to help near you.

Find an advocate
I’m in an unsafe situation and I need help: If you are currently experiencing any form of violence or abuse, or are concerned for your safety call Emergency Services on 000

Your rights and who can help

If you think you might want to tell your story to the Royal Commission but need advice or support, you have the right to talk to someone about it first and decide if you want to participate.

Tell your story to the Disability Royal Commission with the help of an FPDN Indigenous Advocate


An FPDN Indigenous Advocate can help you to share your story in a culturally safe space.

To contact an FPDN Indigenous Advocate near you call 02 9267 4195

or send an email by clicking on the button below.

Email an FPDN Advocate

FPDN Advocates will make sure your business and your story are kept secret.

There are other services that can help you tell your story. Click on the button below to find an advocate near you.

FIND an advocate

Free Legal Help

Your Story Disability Legal Support
Helpline: 1800 771 800

The community-controlled Aboriginal Legal Services and Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service are all delivering Your Story Disability Legal Support as part of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services. They are run by, and for, Aboriginal communities.

Find out more


Keep up to date on the latest news from the Disability Royal Commission

Latest News

Hearings & Events

Find out when the public hearings and community forums will take place.

find out more


Do you have questions? Share your thoughts and views with the community in our live forums
(*your identity will remain private)


Something Stronger: Truth-telling on hurt and loss, strength and healing, from First Nations people with disability research report
Dr Scott Avery

Read the report

Something Stronger has also been translated in 3 First Nations languages

Listen in Djambarrpuynu Yolngu Matha:

Listen in Warlpiri:

Listen to in Kimberley Kriol:

The Disability Royal Commission (DRC) held their first hearing specific to First Nations people on Monday, 23 November 2020 to Friday, 27 November 2020 to inquire, gather evidence, and respond to key concerns on the experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems.
FPDN made a video submission to the Royal Commission for this hearing. Click play on the video above to check out our submisson.

News from the Royal Commission

First Nations leaders demand end to overrepresentation, indefinite detention and deaths in custody of First Peoples with disability in the criminal justice system

| News, Royal Commission | No Comments
With the public hearing commencing in Perth (Boorloo) today, First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) CEO Mr Damian Griffis has again called on the Royal Commission to establish a dedicated hearing…

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is failing First People with disability living in remote communities

| Royal Commission | No Comments
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is failing First People with disability living in remote communities, advocates have told the Disability Royal Commission in Alice Springs (Mparntwe) today. “Whilst the…

Response to the Disability Royal Commission Chair’s published opening statement on Inclusive Education from Public Hearing 24

| News, Royal Commission | No Comments
MEDIA RELEASE 16 June 2022 Source: Disabled Peoples Organisations Australia The Australian Civil Society Delegation is currently in New York attending the 15th Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on…

Time for action on disability rights

| News, Royal Commission | No Comments
First people with disability today told the Disability Royal Commission that it is time for action to make disability rights real. “It’s been more than a decade since Australia signed…