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About Royal Commissions

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What are Royal Commissions?

A Royal Commission is a public inquiry. In Australia, Royal Commissions are the highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance. A Royal Commission has broad powers to gather information to assist with its inquiry, including the power to summons witnesses to appear before it and the power to request individuals or organisations to produce documents as evidence.

Royal Commissions are a form of non-judicial and non-administrative governmental investigation that are only established in rare and exceptional circumstances. Commonwealth Royal Commissions are established through the issuing of Letters Patent by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia under the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth). Commonwealth Royal Commissions can only inquire into matters that relate to the Commonwealth’s responsibilities.

Royal Commissions have terms of reference which set out the key areas of investigation as well as the timeline by which the inquiry must be completed.

Current Royal Commissions

Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission)

The Disability Royal Commission was established on 4 April 2019 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC (Retd), in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability. These incidents might have happened recently or a long time ago. The Disability Royal Commission is investigating:

Disability Royal Commission homepage tile
  • preventing and better protecting people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • achieving best practice in reporting, investigating and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability
  • promoting a more inclusive society that supports people with disability to be independent and live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Disability Royal Commission is investigating and reporting on experiences and conditions in all settings and contexts, including:

  • schools
  • workplaces
  • jails and detention centres
  • secure disability and mental health facilities
  • group homes or boarding houses
  • family homes
  • hospitals
  • day programs

Methods

The Disability Royal Commission gathers information through research, public hearings, the personal experiences people tell them about and submissions, private sessions, and other forums.

Final Report

The Disability Royal Commission will deliver a final report to the Australian Government by 29 September 2023. The report is expected to recommend how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society.

Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide was established on 8 July 2021 by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), in recognition of the unacceptably high rates of suicide among the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and veteran community. The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will investigate past deaths by suicide, including suspected and attempted suicide, from a systemic perspective.

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will focus on systemic issues and common themes relevant to defence and veteran death by suicide, including:

  • contribution of pre-service, service (including training and deployments), transition, separation and post-service
  • the impact on culture within the ADF, Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • the role of non-government organisations, including ex-service organisations, in supporting defence members, veterans, their families, and others within the community
  • experiences of defence members and veterans in accessing claims, entitlements, and support services from government, including engagement with multiple government organisations
  • legislative and policy frameworks relating to support services, claims and entitlements
  • social or family contexts, housing or employment issues, and economic and financial circumstances, and
  • any other matter the Royal Commission considers relevant to its inquiry.

In making recommendations on systemic issues, the Royal Commission will be informed by the individual experience of defence members, veterans and their families and support networks.

Further information is available on the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide website.

Methods

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will gather information through research, public hearings, the personal experiences people tell them about and submissions, private sessions, and other forums.

Final Report

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will deliver an interim report by 11 August 2022, and a final report by 15 June 2023.