A guide to writing your submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care

This is a guide on how to write your submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety ("Royal Commission"). The Royal Commission* will be accepting submissions electronically or by mail.

In either instances, make sure you save your document (If you don’t have a computer or can’t type, write it out on a piece of paper or a journal; see if you can find someone to type it out later by using stenographer services).

Submitting to a Royal Commission is a very personal matter. This is your own aged care story. Do not rush into writing it until you feel you are ready to do so. It takes time and energy (both emotional and physical) to write your account.

The Aged Care Royal Commission has been asked to investigate the following issues:

Issue 1: The quality of care provided to older Australians, and the extent of substandard care;

Issue 2: The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;

Issue 3: The challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age;

Issue 4: The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia;

Issue 5: Any other matters that the Royal Commission considers necessary.

*Because we do not know yet how the format of submissions will be, we can only look at the most recent Royal Commission, that into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services ("Banking Royal Commission") for experience.

If you would like to be kept updated or receive an e-mail when details of the Royal Commission becomes available, you can do so by joining their mailing list.


Step 1:

Pick the issue/s you think your submission will best fit the Commission’s investigation. Write your submission honestly and in a free-flowing manner. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar at this stage! This will be your first draft. Stick to the facts and write about the impact the issues you have raised has had on you and others such as your family and friends personally, financially and emotionally.

If you have evidence (such as emails, receipts, mementoes, personal effects, diary entries, calendar entries, notes, notebooks, photos, audiotapes, video footage, transcripts, internet chats etc.) to back up the issues you have raised, find them now. They are useful reminders to help you write about the events and they will help corroborate the account you have written. A suggestion is to write your submission using a timeline from the first point of concern you had and from then onwards. Dates are useful and having a timeline will clarify your submission.

We don’t know yet what the word limit is for the Royal Commission submissions. For your first draft, write as much as you can. Now, find a trusted person to read your draft. Ask what their thoughts are, and what ways you can improve your arguments without asking you to change the facts and evidence in your story. Try one of the helplines below if you can’t find someone to listen to you. Reading it aloud to someone face to face or over the phone will help strengthen and improve your writing.

Step 2:

After you have done your first draft, it is time for your second draft. This is the time where you make sure you check your spelling and grammar are correct. Don't forget the Commission team are seasoned lawyers. Being able to write in an eloquent and convincing manner will help them understand your story. A word-processing document for example, usually uses 12 point size font, 1.5 spacing, page numbers and headings when necessary. Having a clear submission will help the Commission’s work and will allow them to read your submission more easily.

Now, think about the things in your submission that you can expand on and write on what you feel the Commission should also investigate. Note, Issue 5 asks the Commission to investigate other matters it considers necessary. By the way, congratulations! You have written up your submission. We hope it has been a cathartic experience.

Step 3:

Now we wait. Until we find out how the Royal Commission is accepting submissions, make sure you secure your submission in a safe place so you don’t lose it!

Thank you for reading this guide. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve it, please let us know. We are all volunteers at Aged Care Crisis and will do our best to try and help where we can.

Please email us if you have any feedback, questions or need some help.

If you need support

Writing about your experience may trigger post-traumatic stress (PTS) or unpleasant memories. Please have a conversation with someone if you think the thought of writing, or the act of writing about this will make you upset. You will be helping the Royal Commission’s work when you make a submission but please look after yourself first, especially your mental health. We need your story to help the Commission’s investigation.

The following numbers may be useful before, during and/or after your submission:

  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
  • Cancer Information and Support: 13 11 20
  • Carers Australia: 1800 242 636
  • Elder Abuse Helpline: 1800 628 221
  • Epilepsy Foundation: 1300 761 487
  • Griefline: 1300 845 745
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Mensline Australia: 1300 789 978
  • Mental Health Help Line: 1800 011 511
  • Motor Neurone Disease Association: 1800 777 175
  • National Dementia Help Line: 1800 100 500
  • National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1800 880 052
  • Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling: 1800 011 046
  • QLife: 1800 184 527
  • Parkinson’s Australia: 1800 644 189
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

If you have found a useful support group number that can be added to the above list, please let us know.