The aim of this study was to explore the use of language by people living with disability with respect to violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation and explore concepts such as safety, inclusion, belonging and self-determination. This research utilised co-design, focus group and targeted recruitment approaches in order to engage people living with disability from across South Australia. Participants self-identified as living with the following categories of disability types: physical disability, intellectual disability, autism, deaf/hard of hearing, blind or low vision, acquired brain injury and psychosocial disability.

This report describes findings from 13 focus groups representing different disability cohorts held with 83 participants who live with disability. An additional two focus groups were held with 13 family members of people living with disability. The focus groups were held across Adelaide and regional locations of South Australia in January and February of 2020.

The findings from this research highlight that some terms are better understood than other terms by members of the disability community. Participants across different age, gender and disability categories reported that the terms ‘neglect’ and ‘exploitation’ were confusing and were not words that many were familiar with. Other terms also brought about confusion, with the term ‘abuse’ having such broad connections and connotations that some participants felt unsure as to what the Royal Commission would consider to be ‘abuse.’

These findings offer insight into how people living with disability make meaning of the key terms being used by the Royal Commission. These terms represent acts of crime against people living with disability that sit in high numbers of occurrence compared to the wider Australian population. Statistics relating to these crimes can offer insight into the number of occurrences, and the prevalence within different parts of the disability community. However, it is only through language that a victim can fully describe these crimes and their impact. Therefore, the findings provided by the current study offer a unique collection of meanings, connotations and interpretations towards the themes that this Royal Commission is tasked with investigating.

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