Violence and abuse against people with disabilities: Using existing data to inform the Royal Commission

In light of the recently announced Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation against People with Disability, there is an urgent need to have contemporary estimates of the prevalence of violence and abuse against people with disability for the public, policy makers and Commissioners to consider. Our previous analysis of the 2015 ABS Personal Safety Survey showed that adults with disability are two to three times as likely to experience all forms of interpersonal violence (e.g. physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual violence) than those without disabilities.

Now more than ever it is vital that statistics are based on the best available evidence, that limitations of current data are known and that there is a clearly identified way forward to improve the situation.

This research will fill obvious gaps in the evidence-base by providing current statistics on violence and abuse as well as identifying ways forward for providing better data and research. Co-researchers with disability will work with key stakeholders to design dissemination strategies to maximise the impact of the research.

The project has three components. We will:

  1. Provide an accessible, policy-relevant summary of the prevalence of violence of abuse among women with disability, using from the 2018 ABS Personal Safety Survey, the only Australian population-based survey of violence and abuse which also includes information on disability.
  2. Provide an accessible, policy-relevant summary of the prevalence of violence of abuse among men with disability, using data from Ten to Men study, the only Australian population-based study of Australian men, which also includes information on disability.
  3. Prepare a report on the existing administrative and survey data sources in Australia including a summary of how each could be used, the potential for data linkage and recommendations for future research/analysis.

Research Team

Professor Anne Kavanagh, University of Melbourne
Ms Lauren Krnjacki, University of Melbourne
Ms Anne-Marie Bollier, University of Melbourne
Ms Jennifer Hargrave, Women with Disabilities Victoria
Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn, University of Sydney
Professor Eric Emerson, University of Sydney


Melbourne Disability Institute, University of Melbourne and Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health