Women and girls: hearing, finding and recommending

What has the Disability Royal Commission heard?

The Disability Royal Commission has heard that women and girls with disability:

  • Experience significantly higher rates of domestic, family and sexual violence than women without disability.
  • Experience different types of violence compared to women without disability, with significant lifelong impacts.
  • Are not being protected from violence, including at home and in group homes, particularly where the victim is non-speaking.
  • Face significant barriers when trying to escape domestic and family violence, access emergency accommodation and connect with support networks.

It has also heard about the urgent need for better sex education programs for women with disability, including to protect them from online predators. It has heard about the critical importance of reproductive rights and women with disability having choice and control over their sexuality.

It has heard the experiences of women with disability, including autism, with many providing evidence in confidence through private closed sessions. It has also heard from:

  • Kathy, a social worker, who provided expert evidence regarding the difficulties of women fleeing family violence with Autistic children who may be overwhelmed in noisy and crowded communal living spaces. She gave evidence that these women can rarely stay for the amount of time needed to find further accommodation. Despite the threat of violence, they are more likely to return home to alleviate distress to the family and provide familiarity and certainty to their children.
  • Yellow Ladybugs, an Autistic-led non-government organisation dedicated to the happiness, success and celebration of Autistic girls and women. Yellow Ladybugs shared its ideas to improve protections, services and supports for Autistic women and girls. Its recommendations included:
    • Research into the impacts compliance-based therapies (such as Applied Behaviour Analysis) can have on teaching compliance and leaving Autistic children vulnerable to grooming and predatory abuse.
    • Reduce isolation and loneliness, and the vulnerabilities to abuse that come with these experiences, through peer support programs and events for Autistic girls, women and gender diverse individuals.
    • Education programmes for Autistic girls, women and gender diverse individuals as a protective measure against vulnerability to family, domestic and sexual violence, and to foster choice and control.

What has the Disability Royal Commission found and recommended?

The Disability Royal Commission has found that women with disability experience significantly increased rates of violence and abuse, compared to women without disability. It is committed to preventing the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of women, as well as improving reporting and justice system responses, including from police. It is also committed to improving reproductive rights and choice and control over sexuality.

For more information, please see the Commission’s Interim Report,  and transcripts from Public Hearing 17.  

We will update this page when the Disability Royal Commission makes further findings and recommendations that impact Autistic women and girls.

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