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The information on this page mentions abuse of children


Following horrific stories of abuse in a range of disability support services, Abuse Lawyer Zoe Papageorgiou and the Abuse Law team are working to help those affected to understand their rights.

After more than four years and thousands of stories, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability handed down its final report in 2023, revealing harrowing statistics of ongoing abuse in disability services. 

Royal Commission Findings

The Royal Commission found that people with disabilities experience higher rates of abuse and violence than people without a disability, and they experience violence more frequently. 

The report also found:

  • 55 per cent of people with a disability between 18 and 64 had been physically or sexually abused.
  • The rates of abuse and violence are even higher at the intersections of other marginalised groups, such as women with disabilities and First Nations peoples. 

The findings of abuse within the disability sector are widespread and clearly show that this issue is systemic.

The lengthy 222 report recommendations detailing how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices within this sector confirms the need for urgent change to address a broken system.  

Cause for alarm

For lawyer Zoe Papageorgiou, who works with survivors of institutional abuse, the findings of the Royal Commission were particularly concerning.

“It’s really alarming to recognise the scale of abuse perpetrated against people with disability. We know that this is an already vulnerable sector of our community, with limited access to legal advice and known barriers to justice that exist which can prevent them from coming forward”.

Taking the first step to disclose abuse is already a difficult task for many survivors, and people with disabilities can often face additional barriers, including communication and navigating a complex legal process.

Zoe says it’s important that people who are affected – survivors and their loved ones - can have a clear understanding of what their legal rights are and what the pathway to justice looks like.

Survivors are not alone

We believe there should be a response to this systemic abuse through greater awareness and knowledge of the legal options that exist.

While the Royal Commission has revealed the overwhelming scale of the issue, we want people to know that they're not alone. Our work in institutional abuse cases has shown that coming forward and telling your story has far-reaching effects, through seeking justice for the harm that has been caused, and also providing history that could help other survivors.

It’s important as part of our work with this group that we are able to connect with family members, support people and litigation guardians of people who have survived abuse in these settings. We understand that these support people who may be concerned want to ensure that their legal rights are being conveyed in a way that's understood. 

Here to help

We are experienced in dealing with matters of abuse within institutions and we offer complete confidentiality. Our goal is to raise awareness of the legal options that are available to people, and believe that this knowledge is empowering for people to then make an informed choice.

We can offer confidential discussions with trauma-informed lawyers to understand what options are available to you.

If you care for someone, or you are someone who has been seeking treatment or other disability support services, and you're concerned about behaviour or suspected abuse, then reach out to us for confidential discussion.  

Our team of experienced abuse lawyers are here to help. You are not alone. 

If you or someone you love is a survivor of childhood abuse, we are here to support you and get the justice you deserve. 

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

Office locations

We’re here to help. Get in touch with your local office.

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.