Join the fight to end violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability by engaging with the Disability Royal Commission.

Quick Escape


The first hearing on healthcare was held at Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush, NSW, from 18 – 28 February 2020. It was about how the healthcare system treats people with cognitive disability, including people with intellectual disability, autism and acquired brain injury.

You can find a transcript, video with Auslan interpretation and various documents mentioned in the hearing on the DRC website.

You can follow our live Twitter commentary here: Tuesday 18, Wednesday 19, Thursday 20, Friday 21, Monday 24, Tuesday 25, Wednesday 26, Thursday 27 and Friday 28.

Public hearing 10 followed up on the education and training of health professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability. Two days were held Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 December 2020, and a third on Tuesday 2 March 2021. Transcripts and video from hearing 10 are at this link.

We had limited capacity in December, but you can find some live commentary here, and here’s our thread for the March part of the hearing.

If you’re not sure about some of the language being used, see if it’s in our General Jargon Buster or the more specific Healthcare Jargon Buster.

CID (Council for Intellectual Disability) have written an Easy Read page about this hearing.

Other relevant hearings include the COVID-19 hearings, and the restrictive practices hearing about psychotropic medication.

Where We Stand On Healthcare For People With Disability

People with disability are 10 times more likely than people without disability to have poor health.

In our survey for the Civil Society Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, over 50% of people with disability said that:

  • they do not have access to health care and treatments they need, and
  • they think health care providers do not understand their needs.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 20% of people with disability do not see a doctor due to the cost. 66% do not see a dentist because of the cost. More than 700,000 Australians have a severe mental illness in any one year, but only 64,000 people with psychosocial disability will be eligible for the NDIS. Mental health services do not have enough resources to meet our needs.

Some groups of people with disability face even more barriers to healthcare. Women with disability have trouble getting health information and services – especially in sexual and reproductive health and cancer screening services. The illness and death rates for Indigenous people with disability are much worse than for others.

The Council for Intellectual Disability have found that 42% of medical conditions in people with intellectual disability are not diagnosed. Discrimination often causes people with intellectual disability to miss out on effective medical treatment.

People with disability experience human rights violations that cause bad health, like:

  • forced medical treatments,
  • lack of freedom,
  • restrictive practices,
  • denial of legal capacity, and
  • other forms of violence.

There is no national tool to collect data on the health of people with disability. General health-related data does not identify if a person has disability. There is not enough data on the use of mainstream health services by people with disability.

What We Need To Do:

  • implement measures to address the poor health outcomes of people with disability, with a particular focus on Indigenous people with disability, people with intellectual disability, people with psychosocial disability and women with disability,
  • create a national network of intellectual disability health specialists to help mainstream services meet the specific needs of people with intellectual disability,
  • increase resourcing for peer managed mental health services and programs that give people other options aside from forced confinement and treatment, and that support people with psychosocial disability regardless of NDIS eligibility, and
  • develop a national tool to collect data on the health of people with disability, so we can see what works and what doesn’t.

More Information: