Reporting abuse and neglect of people with disability

On this page you will find information on abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation, what it is and how to report it

People with disability in Australia are more likely to experience abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation than people without disability. Every person with disability has the right to feel and be safe. If you think abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation is happening to a person with disability, you need to report it. We all have a responsibility to make our community safe.

Report Abuse and Neglect of People with Disability

Who can you call to report abuse?

National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline (the Hotline) is a free, independent and confidential service for reporting abuse and neglect of people with disability.

Anyone can contact the Hotline, including people with disability, family members, friends, advocates or service providers.

To make a report, call 1800 880 052 or send an email to

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can call the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 880 052

NRS website

If you speak a language other than English, you can use the Translating and Interpreting Service by calling 13 14 50 or website at:

The Hotline staff who answer the phones understand the issues in the disability sector and are sensitive to the needs of people with disability. They will ask for your permission to make a report using:

  • your name, address and age
  • some information about the service or place where the abuse or neglect is happening, or has happened
  • the name of the person or people responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • the name, age and address of the person being abused or neglected.
    • In an emergency, call 000 for ambulance, fire or police services. If you think there has been a crime or a crime is happening, contact your local police.


      1800RESPECT is the national sexual assault and domestic and family violence counselling service.

      They are a confidential service for people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, sexual assault, domestic or family violence. Friends, family, workers and professionals can also use this service.

      If you, or someone you know, is experiencing sexual assault or domestic and family violence, you can call 1800 737 732.

      On the 1800RESPECT website, you can also find a guide to seeking support during coronavirus and self-isolation. As well as resources on supporting people with disability.

      What can violence and abuse look like?

      There are many different types of violence and abuse, including emotional violence, physical abuse and online violence. Women With Disabilities Australia has created an Easy Read resource that explains each one in more detail. We have included some of these explanations below.

      Women with Disabilities Australia website

      Emotional violence

      Emotional violence is when someone says or does things that scare you, confuse you or make you feel bad about yourself.

      Emotional violence can include when someone:

      • embarrasses you in public
      • threatens to hurt you or someone you care about
      • damages something you own
      • treats you badly because of things you can’t change about yourself like your disability, gender or race
      • ignores you when you need help or are trying to communicate.

      Physical abuse

      Physical abuse is when someone hurts your body on purpose. For example, they might:

      • hit, punch or slap you
      • force you to take medicine, alcohol or drugs
      • take away something you need, like medicine or a wheelchair
      • force you to have sex – this is also called sexual violence.

      Sexual violence

      Sexual violence is when someone forces you to do something sexual without your consent. It can be when someone:

      • forces you to have sex when you don’t want to – this is also called rape or sexual assault
      • touches your genitals when you don’t want them to
      • makes sexual comments about you – this is also called sexual harassment
      • asks you to have sex with them because they are helping or supporting you.

      Online violence

      Online violence is when someone is violent to you on the internet or social media. It’s also called cyber-violence or cyber-bullying.

      Online violence is when someone:

      • bullies you on social media
      • posts or sends photos or videos of you without your consent
      • uses the internet to find out where you are
      • puts spyware on your computer
      • steals your personal information from the internet and shares it with other people
      • sends you emails that threaten you or make you feel bad.

      The Disability Royal Commission

      At the moment Australia is holding a Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The Royal Commission was set up because people in the community were worried about how many reports there were of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation of people with disability. The Royal Commission wants to hear from people with disability, families, support people, organisations and the broader community. They want to better understand the impact of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation against people with disability.

      You can share your experience:

      • in writing, over the phone, in a video or audio recording
      • in a private session
      • in your preferred language – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and Auslan.

      Find out more on the Disability Royal Commission website

      Original resources

      Advocacy tips

      When you talk to someone who may have experienced abuse or violence, it’s important to remember the different ways trauma might affect that person. When they tell their story, listen patiently and reassure them. You can find more information on trauma on the Blue Knot Foundation website

      People with disability may face a range of barriers to speaking up about abuse or violence. To learn more about abuse and disability, visit the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) website, the Women With Disabilities Victoria website, the WWILD website and the ACT Human Rights Commission website.
      Here are the links: