Report: Disability Royal Commission - what I need to know as an osteopath

We are committed to ensuring our members can work with their clients to create a place where people with disability can enjoy all human rights and freedoms just like everyone else. In this brief overview, we highlight the key volumes, findings and recommendations that are most important to our members.

The Disability Royal Commission (DRC) made 222 recommendations to improve policies and practices aiming to foster a more inclusive and just society that supports the independence of people with disability and is free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Osteopaths and all allied health professionals can make a big difference by implementing these recommendations. This makes accessibility, inclusivity and quality of life better for people with disability. Focusing on independence and safeguarding aligns with the broader goal of allied health of promoting well-being and quality of life for everyone.

A Royal Commission serves as a formal way for the government to investigate important national issues. The DRC conducted a thorough investigation from April 2019 to September 2023, resulting in the final report, which includes 12 volumes with key findings and recommendations.

Osteopathy Australia is committed to ensuring our members can work with their clients to create a place where people with disability can enjoy all human rights and freedoms just like everyone else.

This brief overview highlights some of the volumes, findings and recommendations that are most important to our members.


Executive Summary

The DRC highlights collaboration among service providers, with key recommendations in training, person-centred care and customised care plans.


Volumes Overview

Volumes 1 and 2 are the personal stories of people with disabilities. Volumes 3 to 12 focus on key issues and recommendations, highlighting healthcare access (Volume 6) and disability services (Volume 10).


Volume 1 - Voices of People with Disability

It shares the stories of 9,000 individuals living with disability and their supporters. It aims to raise awareness, offer insights into the daily challenges faced and advocate for creating safer and more inclusive communities.


Volume 3 - Nature and Extent of Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation

Highlights the need for better protection and support, especially for women, those living with psychological and intellectual disability as well as those known to perpetrators.

Volume 4 - Realising the Human Rights of People with Disability

Focuses on Australia’s commitment to promote the human rights of people living with disability and recommends a stronger legal framework and the enactment of an Australian Disability Rights Act (DRA).


Volume 5 - Governing for Inclusion

Sheds light on the importance of national strategies, policies, and leadership for equality and inclusion, advocating for the creation of a National Disability Commission (NDC) and the review of disability strategies.


Volume 6 - Enabling Autonomy and Access

Explores breaking barriers to independence, addressing concerns including access to information, decision-making and healthcare.

Key Recommendations:

  • Suggests changes to guardianship laws, improved healthcare coordination and opposes unnecessary procedures;
  • Recognises the important role of accessible information and communication for people living with disability;
  • Calls for updated guardianship and administration laws, focusing on supported decision-making;
  • Addresses issues in the healthcare system, focusing on training for health professionals and the need for better coordination in providing accessible and inclusive healthcare services;
  • Expresses concerns about the overuse and misuse of restrictive practices, emphasising the need for training and awareness;
  • Advocates for changes to ban unnecessary procedures like involuntary sterilisation.

Key Recommendations for Improving Independence and Access for Osteopaths:

  1. Develop a national plan for promoting accessible information and communications in collaboration with people living with disability and their representative organisations.
  2. Increase the number and quality of Auslan interpreters and train interpreters in disability awareness.
  3. Improve transparency, collection of data, and advocacy for supported decision-making.


Volume 9 - First Nations People with Disability

Addresses systemic barriers faced by First Nations individuals with disability while recommending the implementation of culturally sensitive support services, collaboration and awareness initiatives.


Volume 10 - Disability Services

Explores evidence of maltreatment in disability services and suggests steps for integrating human rights, support coordination and independent advocacy.

Emphasises the integration of human rights into disability services, focusing on the responsibility of service providers.

Recommends that support coordination providers should not provide other funded supports, advocating for separation of roles.

Highlights the value of independent advocacy for those at risk, promoting collaboration with NDIS participants and advocacy organisations.

Key Recommendations for Improving Disability Services:

  • Implement a capacity-building program to help disability service providers integrate human rights into their services;

  • Ensure separation of roles for support coordination providers, avoiding conflicts of interest;

  • Include funding for support coordination in the NDIS plans of participants at risk of violence, abuse, neglect, or exploitation;
  • Examine the quality and consistency of support coordination, focussing on specific groups of people living with disability;
  • Promote the value of independent advocacy for NDIS participants at risk when reviewing complaints and reportable incidents.


Volume 11 - Independent Oversight and Complaint Mechanisms

Highlights the need for independent reporting of violence and abuse and suggests nationally consistent legislation, safeguards and complaint reporting.


Volume 12 - Beyond the Royal Commission

Suggests practical ways to implement recommendations, calling for high-quality data, research and a consistent approach to disability information nationwide.


Allied Health's Role

Allied health professionals, especially those in healthcare and disability services, are pivotal in implementing the DRC's recommendations. Allied health professionals play an important role in preventative health by increasing an individual's functional capacity to prevent deconditioning and falls to name a few.

Key Recommendations for Allied Health Professionals:

Volume 6 - Enabling Autonomy and Access:

  • Emphasise accessible information and communication;
  • Advocate for reforms in guardianship and administration laws;
  • Collaborate to address the overuse of restrictive practices and involuntary sterilisation.

Volume 10 - Disability Services:

  • Support the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission's capacity-building program;
  • Advocate for separating support coordination providers from other funded supports;
  • Promote independent advocacy for those at risk, connecting NDIS participants with suitable organisations.



Osteopathy Australia is committed to including these recommendations in our ongoing policy and advocacy efforts, ensuring members are educated, practice and remain at the forefront of disability care. Collaboration with other peak bodies, the NDIS, and NDIA is essential for continuous improvement in the quality of care and support available to the disability community of Australia.

Osteopathy Australia would like to thank the Commissioners who worked extremely hard to assemble this report and the individuals, families, supporters and providers who shared their stories. We look forward to implementing the recommendations in our policy and advocacy work as a peak allied health body.

The comprehensive approach outlined in these volumes emphasises the importance of accessible information, person-centred care, and systemic change required to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals living with disability. Advocacy, collaboration, and a commitment to human rights are key elements in creating positive change in disability services and healthcare access.



Acknowledgement of Country
Osteopathy Australia acknowledges Australia’s First Nations peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands, seas and waters of Australia, and pay respect to all First Nations Elders, past. present and emerging. We pay our respects to all First Nations people with disability and recognise the distinct contributions they made to the outcome of the inquiry.


Acknowledgment of people with disability
We acknowledge people with disability who fought and campaigned long and hard for the establishment of the Royal Commission. We acknowledge the courage and generosity of people with lived experience of disability who share their knowledge and experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation with the Royal Commission.