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Do you or someone you know use assistive technology? 

AT Chat is a peer to peer information and communication hub

created by people with disability for people with people with disability. 

See video here

AT Chat is being launched at a party on 

Friday 13th October 4.30pm-8.00pm

click on the flyer below for more details





DDWA is a not-for-profit organisation and all donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Your donation will contribute towards

- more workshops, information sessions and training for individuals, their family members and the people who support them 
- more resources being developed for families and professionals 

 - more advocacy and support for people in our community

- more advocacy and representation to the decision makers on the issues you let us know about and work on with us

Please get in touch if you are interested in supporting or sponsoring the work of DDWA.



Would you like to find out more about peer support groups in WA?


Are you looking for a service provider?

Click here to find:

- the link to the list of disability service organisations which provide service on behalf of Disability Services Commission, sorted by region: REGION

- the list of services registered to provide services under NDIS in our State: WA

Are you interested in participating in research projects?


Click on the image above to read the report....

"The lives of people with disability are often secret lives. We are routinely segregated and isolated from our non-disabled peers – we live, work and play in places which are not often frequented by those without disability. Often, we are lonely. If we do not have families, paid staff are sometimes the only people in our lives. We are shut out by barriers to participation in Australian life, and shut in when we are hidden in institutional settings."

(Report authors Samantha Connor and Ben Keely)

The Peer Connect website is for people living with disability, their families and supporters.

The website has information about having choice and control in your life, the NDIS, connecting with Peer Support Networks and getting involved with your community.


Duchenne Foundation in WA have published a great new story for children called "That's What Wings Are For". Part proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Duchenne Foundation.

Read more about it here, including an author interview 






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20 September 2017

Disability Safe Week 

Following the excellent workshops and events held to highlight the concerns and real issues surrounding safety for people with disabilities, DDWA is pleased to share the link for Resources.

Contact details and factsheets can all be found at the Disability Safe Week website.

Click on a picture below:


21 June 2017


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released its Report of Case Study No. 41 dated May 2017.  This particular Case Study looks at institutional responses to allegations of the sexual abuse of children with disability, with specific focus on a number of institutions across a number of States.

The Report stated that: “The Royal Commission is aware that sexual abuse of children has occurred in many institutions, off of which could be investigated in a public hearing. However, if the Royal Commission were to attempt that task, a great many resources would need to be applied over an indeterminate, but lengthy, period of time. For this reason the Commissioners have accepted criteria by which Senior Counsel Assisting will identify appropriate matters for a public hearing and bring them forward as individual ‘case studies’.”

DDWA has contacted the Royal Commission secretariat about Report of Case Study No. 41, and they have confirmed that recommendations to lead to a safer environment, and more appropriate responses to people who do suffer abuse, will be part of the Commissioners’ work and final report which will be submitted by 15 December 2017.

Click on the picture to access this report in full.





The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (the Universal Declaration) was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1948.

Australia was a founding member of the UN and played a prominent role in the negotiation of the UN Charter in 1945. Australia was also one of eight nations involved in drafting the Universal Declaration.

Australia has remained a supporter of human rights throughout international treaty negotiations. Australia has ratified almost all of the major international human rights instruments.

In 2008 Australia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Why do we need a convention for persons with disabilities? Don't people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else?

The rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in perfect world, would be enough to protect everyone. 

But in practice certain groups have fared far worse than others and international conventions are in place to protect and promote the human rights of these groups, including around 650 million individuals, or around 10 per cent of people, in the world living with disabilities. 




August 2016:

Last month DDWA was pleased to welcome Dr Sally Robinson from Southern Cross University, to WA to speak with young people with disability about their feelings about safety and security, also with parents, teachers and professionals about her research in this area.

Sally has written an article School is not always a safe place for students with disability - this has to change - click below to read the article

July 2016:

The Safety Project - you can still be part of it

The Safety Project is research being conducted by the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, with the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre, People with Disability Australia and Children with Disability Australia.

Dr Sally Robinson and Meaghan Vosz are talking to young people with disability aged 16 - 25 across Australia about what safety means to them, and what helps them to feel and be safe.


In WA they talked with many young people and service providers to find out what 'being safe' means to young people with disability, and how we can better support them to be and feel safe. Sally also presented the Safe at School research conducted in by the Centre in 2014 in a seminar for parents, supporters and service providers held at Developmental Disability WA.


Early in 2017 the Centre will be asking more young people, parents and supporters about what helps young people with disability to be and feel safe, via two online surveys. To find out more or put your name on the list to receive the survey, email, follow us on Twitter @ypsafety, or check out the website at The Centre will present its research in a symposium later in 2017 and will produce accessible reports for young people, parents, supporters and service providers. 


December 2015:

Report into Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect  released November 2015

Further down this page is a timeline showing some of the public calls last year for a national inquiry into the abuse and neglect of people with disability. An inquiry was announced on 11 February 2015 by Senator Rachel Siewert, the Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee.

On 25 November 2015 Senator Siewert, in tabling the Inquiry report, said: "I urge every senator and every Australian to read this report because it contains shocking information that Australia needs to understand and take action about. We heard honestly heart-rending evidence of violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability around Australia. We heard detailed accounts of abuse."

The report made a number of recommendations which can be read here: RECOMMENDATIONS 

Watch the speeches in the Senate:

You can watch the parliamentary speeches in the Senate as the report was tabled, by Senator Siewert, Senator Lindgren and Senator Moore. Click on the link and go to the time 17:08 to view the three speeches: PARLIAMENTARY SPEECHES

Click to open the link to the Committee webpage containing the report


page 192 - 7.34: Witnesses suggested that the lack of funding for advocacy reflects a lack of value placed on these services, including other capacity building services aimed at preventing abuse and neglect. "Ms Taryn Harvey, CEO of Developmental Disability WA told the committee: "I think the organisations that provide advocacy can help in providing a range of other mechanisms. I do not think that advocacy is the only thing; communication is another thing. But I think if we started to value advocacy it would be a sign that we are starting to value the other things that are effective in preventing these situations and in capacity building." 

page 194 - 7.42: The Committee heard that the structure of current reporting mechanisms that rely on individuals raising complaints present barriers to people with disability if they do not have access to advocacy services or other supports. Ms Taryn Harvey, CEO, Developmental Disability WA told the committee:  " I think the current processes we have in place, where the onus is on the individual to raise complaints-and we also see where members of the workforce also want to raise issues of concern that they have-is that we do not have the kind of structures in place that can support people to make complaints successfully. When you have an individual who is feeling vulnerable and their family is feeling vulnerable, it is very difficult to raise a complaint of this significance within a service provider without support. If you are someone who does not have the kind of informal support...then that becomes more challenging again. Obviously there are the issues around how we are responding to those complaints from a justice point of view. We know that there are significant barriers to victims with disability of violence, abuse and neglect having recourse to the kidns of processes that the rest of us would take for granted." 

page 265 - 9.73: Ms Taryn Harvey, Chief Executive Officer of Developmental Disability emphasised the need to prioritise and empower individuals and their families: "We never talk first about what we can do for people on the ground to help them raise the issues that concern them...let us actually invest in the kids of mechanisms that will help people navigate the complaints process and support people's communication. They are the things that are standing int he way. When things do happen, families need to have somewhere clear that they can go to so that every time they are having that conversation with someone in the system, they feel supported...You can put whatever new standards and procedures in place, but the fundamental issue about people not feeling like they can take that challenge on is not going to change until we start investing in supporting people."  

Disability Justice

The report also referred to restrictive practices in prisons. The recommendations in the report include the implementation by each state and territory of a Disability Justice Plan. We have included this information on the DDWA Justice webpage. 


 7 December 2015:


The Disability Services Commission has completed the work for the Online Serious Incident Reporting System.

The DSC contracts organisations to deliver services to West Australians with disability. Under the Disability Services Act 1993, serious incidents must be reported by Disability Sector Organisations (DSOs) (funded services) and by service provision areas of Disability Services Commission.

This refers to any death, significant physical or psychological harm, an assault (including sexual abuse); or neglect of a person with disability in their care.

Click on the image below to read the information provided by DSC on the new online system, for Disability Sector Organisations (DSOs) and Commission-provided services to submit a Serious Incident Report and report a notifiable incident. 








18 November 2015:

WA Taskforce announced: 

Developmental Disabilty WA and People With disabilities WA have formed a task force to look at how the recommendations from our report Behind Closed Doors can be implemented and how we can address these issues in Western Australia. 

The report's recommendations directly related to how we can prevent abuse and neglect, and how we can ensure better complaints and legal processes where there has been abuse and neglect. The majority of recommendations were aimed at things that we can do in Western Australia.

The taskforce is expected to work to progress these recommendations for the next 6-12 months. Over the course of a 20 week project which has culminated in this report, fifty one organisations, individuals and families contributed their shared histories with Ben Keely and Samantha Connor. Read their report by clicking on the image above.






20 April 2015: 

DDWA and PWdWA have responded to the announcement by WA Labor that they will be pursuing legislation to mandate pre-employment checks as their immediate response to violence, abuse and neglect of people with disabilities.

This follows a forum held at The Niche, Nedlands, where around 80 people came to hear from individuals with disability, disability advocates and others abouve violence, abuse and neglect in residential and institutional settings. The issues explored at the forum indicated that multiple strategies, including effective safeguarding options and complaints mechanisms. 

DDWA's CEO Taryn Harvey spoke on ABC Radio this morning, about the work currently being undertaken by advocates Ben Keely and Samantha Connor. 

Read the media release below:


National Inquiries involving people with disability

The Senate has two inquiries in 2015 (one having commenced late 2014) which look at abuse and neglect of people with disability. 

  • Inquiry into the Adequacy of Existing Residential Care Arrangements Available for Young People with Severe Physical, Mental or Intellectual Disabilities in Australia.
  • Inquiry into Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability

DDWA appeared before the Senate Committee when they visited Perth in February this year. PWdWA also attended, as did a number of people with disabilities who shared their personal experiences of living in residential care facilities which did not provide the kind of choice and control necessary for them to live the kinds of lives they wished to live.

DDWA joined with PWDWA in a written submission to the Inquiry which you can read below.

Inquiry into the Adequacy of Existing Residential Care Arrangements Available for Young People with Severe Physical, Mental or Intellectual Disabilities in Australia.

Click to open submission

Read the Hansard and other submissions here: INQUIRY


Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect - 11 February 2015

The next inquiry announced was on 11 February when Senator Rachel Siewert, the Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee, successfully had the Senate pass the motion for an inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect. 


11 February 2015:

Click to open and read the media release of 11 February 2015

Senate passes motion for Parliamentary Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect

This afternoon the Senate passed the motion by the Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee (Senator Siewert): To


(1) That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References

Committee for inquiry and report by 24 June 2015:

Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age-related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, with particular reference to:

(a) the experiences of people directly or indirectly affected by violence, abuse and neglect perpetrated against people with disability in institutional and residential contexts;

(b) the impact of violence, abuse and neglect on people with disability, their families, advocates, support persons, current and former staff and Australian society as a whole;

(c) the incidence and prevalence of all forms of violence, abuse and neglect perpetrated against people with disability in institutional and residential settings;

(d) the responses to violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability, as well as to whistleblowers, by every organisational level of institutions and residential settings, including governance, risk management and reporting practices;

(e) the different legal, regulatory, policy, governance and data collection frameworks and practices across the Commonwealth, states and territories to address and prevent violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability;

(f) Australia‘s compliance with its international obligations as they apply to the rights of people with disability;

(g) role and challenges of formal and informal disability advocacy in preventing and responding to violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability;

(h) what should be done to eliminate barriers for responding to violence, abuse and neglect perpetrated against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including addressing failures in, and barriers to, reporting, investigating and responding to allegations and incidents of violence and abuse;

(i) what needs to be done to protect people with disability from violence, abuse and neglect in institutional and residential settings in the future, including best practice in regards to prevention, effective reporting and responses;

(j) what are the systemic workforce issues contributing to the violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability and how can these issues be addressed;

(k) the role of the Commonwealth, states and territories in preventing violence and abuse

against people with disability;

(l) the challenges that arise from moving towards an individualised funding arrangement, like the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including the capacity of service providers to identify, respond and prevent instances of violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability; and

(m) what elements are required in a national quality framework that can safeguard people with disability from violence, abuse and neglect in institutional and residential settings.

(2) That for this inquiry:

(a) ‗institutional and residential settings‘ is broadly defined to include the types of institutions that people with disability often experience, including, but not restricted to: residential institutions; boarding houses; group homes; workplaces; respite care services; day centres; recreation programs; mental health facilities; hostels; supported accommodation; prisons; schools; out-of-home care; special schools; boarding schools; school buses; hospitals; juvenile justice facilities; disability services; and aged care facilities; and

(b) ‗violence, abuse and neglect‘ is broadly understood to include, but is not limited to: domestic, family and interpersonal violence; physical and sexual violence and abuse; psychological or emotional harm and abuse; constraints and restrictive practices; forced treatments and interventions; humiliation and harassment; financial abuse; violations of privacy; systemic abuse; physical and emotional neglect; passive neglect; and wilful deprivation.


The Committee will report by June 2015. Further information is available at the Committee's Parliament House website here..... 

If you would like to discuss the inquiry please contact DDWA on 9420 7203, or email

Click to read the media release from PWD, DDWA and United Voice in word


11 February 2015

Renewed calls for national inquiry

Inclusion Australia, formerly National Council on Intellectual Disability (NCID) has renewed calls for a national inquiry into abuse and neglect of people with disability.

Developmental Disability WA is the WA member of Inclusion Australia, and supports this call, and the calls today from WA Senator Rachel Siewert at a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, and in the Senate, for an inquiry.

Read the Inclusion Australia media release here...

PDF            Word


24 November 2014:

Four Corners program brings attention to abuse and neglect

On Monday 24th November, the ABC’s flagship investigative journalism program Four Corners featured a story on cases of abuse and neglect within a major Victorian disability service provider, Yooralla, and concerns about the organisation’s handling of the matters. 

Yooralla has been accused of failing to act properly on complaints of sexual, emotional and financial abuse of its clients at the hands of several employed carers.


Calls for national inquiry into abuse and neglect in disability care

On Tuesday 25th November, PWDA and WWDA launched a national campaign calling for the Federal Government to undertake a national inquiry into disability care facilities and support workers.  Details on the campaign, including an online petition, can be found at

The site also brings to light confronting stories showing the truth of what is happening to people with disabilities across the country. You can join the more than 10,000 people have already signed the online petition asking the Australian Government to carry out an immediate national inquiry.

The Victorian parliament has committed to an inquiry in response to these cases, recognising the strong community concern at the matters raised.

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes has put his support behind the campaign, saying an inquiry into the “huge problem” of abuse in the sector was needed. He said a national independent inquiry was needed because it would have more capacity to obtain evidence than a Parliamentary inquiry. (Independent Inquiry Call Over Yooralla Abuse, Pro Bono News, Tuesday 25th November)

Mr Innes said the reporting regulations in Victoria and New South Wales were the best in the country which was why the allegations were being raised there first. 

In New South Wales, the new Disability Inclusion Act 2014 requires disability services report any allegations to the state Ombudsman (Shining a light on the abuse and neglect of people with disability, Ombudsman New South Wales, Tuesday 25th November)

Tuesday 25 November 2014: 

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes has said an inquiry into the “huge problem” of abuse in the sector was needed. He said a national independent inquiry was needed because it would have more capacity to obtain evidence than a Parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Innes said the reporting regulations in Victoria and New South Wales were the best in the country which was why the allegations were being raised there first. 

Bringing attention to the issues in Western Australia: 

On Tuesday 25th November, Developmental Disability WA issued a joint statement with disability advocate, Samantha Connor, and disability support workers union, United Voice, addressing the issues raised in the Four Corners story and calling for action. 

We were joined by DDWA member, Mr Ben Keely, at Parliament House to speak to the media about concerns in the community about potential abuse and neglect within disability service providers in Western Australia. Mr Keely spoke to radio 6PR and ABC radio about his experiences in a Western Australian residential care service. DDWA has been supporting Mr Keely to produce a short film about his experiences, which was premiered at our AGM in October.  An excerpt of this film can be viewed here...

December 2014: Keeping the Minister informed of community concern

In the wake of so much reform currently underway in the disability sector it is timely to think about the most vulnerable people in our community while this work is being done. We want to make sure that everything is being done in WA to protect and safeguard individuals and in December 2014 we wrote to the Minister for Disability Services, Helen Morton, to convey community concerns for the safety and wellbeing of people with disability. We are seeking assurances as to the strength of systems currently in place, and plans for the future.

Federal Government says no to national inquiry:

The Federal Government has rejected the suggestion that a national inquiry be implemented to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of people with disability by people employed by disability service providers.

Western Australian Senator Rachel Siewert asked the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Victorian Senator Mitch Fifield, on 25 November, “Will the government launch an inquiry into the neglect, violence-including gender based violence-and abuse of people with disability in residential and institutional settings?”

Senator Fifield replied that “…that until the full rollout of the NDIS is complete the states and territories remain responsible for disability services in their jurisdictions and this includes complaints, regulations, quality assurance and law enforcement. Allegations of this nature should be referred to the relevant disability and police authorities.”

Senator Fifield noted that in Victoria, that State’s government and opposition have agreed that there will be a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into sexual abuse in the disability sector in Victoria.

He said “I do not think that there is anyone in public life in any parliament in Australia who would have the view that anything other than a full assessment of the serious allegations should be made. The Victorian parliament has set about responding to the allegations from Four Corners and the Fairfax investigation. The Commonwealth is committed to learning the lessons of the NDIS trial sites and also committed to learning of the experiences of the state jurisdictions as the Commonwealth looks to what would be the most appropriate safeguards to put in place nationally for a full NDIS.”

Senator Siewert shared her view in the Senate that in 20 years time will there be a need for a royal commission because these issues around abuse and violence were ignored nationally.

What’s happening in WA to safeguard people from abuse and neglect?

In Western Australia, the Disability Services Commission has published a position paper, Individual Safeguarding.

The objective of the position paper is to promote understanding and best practice in safeguarding for individuals with a disability (‘individuals’), who are using Disability Services Commission WA (‘Commission’) provided individualised funding and/or Commission provided disability services and/or Commission contracted disability services. 

A framework is provided to guide individuals, their supporters and disability services in the consideration of individual safeguarding. Components of the framework include:

  • What are safeguards (Section 2)
  • Actions involved in individual safeguarding (Section 3)
  • Principles underpinning safeguarding (Section 4)
  • Considering and determining individual safeguards (Section 5)
  • The spectrum of individual safeguards (Section 6)

The safeguards refer to supports and mechanisms that promote, enhance and protect an individual's:

  • Human rights
  • Decision making, choice and control
  • Safety and wellbeing
  • Citizenship and quality of life

The human rights and individual outcomes that safeguards aim to uphold are described further in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Disability Services Act WA (‘Act’) Principles, and the National Standards for Disability Services (‘Standards’).

Read the Disability Services Commission's position paper, Individual Safeguarding here....