Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Royal Commission?
A Royal Commission is a public inquiry. In Australia, Royal Commissions are the highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance.
Why is a Royal Commission different from other inquiries?
A Royal Commission has broad powers to gather information to assist with its inquiry. The Royal Commission has the power to summons witnesses to appear before it and the power to request individuals or organisations produce documents as evidence.
How does the Royal Commission decide what it investigates?
The terms of reference set out the key areas of investigation for the Royal Commission.
What is a submission?
A submission is a statement to the Royal Commission which assists the Commission in its collection of information that is relevant to the inquiry as set out in the terms of reference.
Can I publish my own submission on my website or elsewhere?
Yes, you are free to publish and share your own submission once you have sent it to the Royal Commission.
Will my submission be published on the Royal Commission website?
The Royal Commission intends to publish some of the submissions that it receives—but only where the person making the submission has indicated that they agree to its publication. However, the Royal Commission reserves the right not to publish certain submissions or to redact information within a submission. This includes circumstances where the information in a submission is not relevant to the Royal Commission’s terms of reference, where matters are subject to a non-publication order, or where there are privacy concerns about the information.
If I make a submission, will I be called to be a witness at a Royal Commission hearing?
At hearings, the Royal Commission will hear from people identified by Counsel Assisting to appear as a witness and give evidence. Not everyone who makes a submission will appear at a hearing.
How can I find out when hearings are on?
The Royal Commission will publicise its public hearings on the website and elsewhere. You can subscribe to our mailing list for emails from the Royal Commission (including details about hearings). For information about hearings after they have been held (including videos and transcripts), check the Hearings page on the website.
What time will the hearings be running?
Public hearings will generally run from 10am to 4:30pm AEST, however these times are approximate and subject to change.
Please note that the hearings are held in Brisbane, Queensland, which does not observe Daylight Saving Time. For example, 10am Brisbane will be 11am in NSW, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. Find out more about Daylight Saving and Australian time zones.
How can I view the hearings?
The general public can attend and watch the hearings in person. The hearings will be held at Pullman Hotel King George Square, corner Ann and Roma Streets, Brisbane City. Those interested can pre-register their attendance, however it is not a requirement to register.
The hearings will also be streamed live on the home page of the Commission's website. Further information on watching or attending can be found on the hearings page.
Where can I find out what happened on a past hearing day?
Videos of each hearing day are uploaded to our YouTube channel. Transcripts of each hearing day are available via the hearings page.
Where can I find more information if I am called as a witness?
A factsheet is available to provide information if you are called as a witness. You may also wish to view our witness expense form.
Can witnesses be paid or have their expenses for appearing at a hearing reimbursed?
Section 6G of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) and Regulation 6 of the Royal Commissions Regulations 2019 (Cth) provide for certain expenses to be paid to witnesses called or summoned to appear before a Royal Commission. This includes an appearance fee.
For further information visit Information for witnesses | Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme
Can witnesses have their legal fees paid by the Australian Government?
A person who is called as a witness (and is not a current or former Minister or a current or former staff member employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984) may be able to apply for legal financial assistance to cover reasonable legal representation and disbursement costs in accordance with the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance and the Addendum for the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department administers these arrangements. For further information visit Commonwealth legal financial assistance | Attorney-General's Department.
Can witnesses who are current or former Ministers have their legal costs paid for by the Australian Government?
A Minister (or former Minister who was appointed after 24 May 1990) may be eligible to receive assistance in meeting the cost of their appearance at the Commission which are related to their duties or conduct arising from occupying the office of Minister.
Any Minister or former Minister who may need assistance should first raise the issue with the Attorney-General. The Office of Legal Services Coordination at the Attorney-General's Department coordinates legal assistance matters.
Can witnesses who are current or former staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 have their legal costs paid for by the Australian Government?
Legal assistance for current and former staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 may be available under the Legal Services Directions, Appendix E – Assistance to Commonwealth employees for legal proceedings. Contact the Attorney-General's Department for further information.
Other sources of information
Where can I get information about my individual matter involving Centrelink?
The Royal Commission cannot decide or resolve individual cases or award any form of compensation. If you have a question about a Centrelink debt or repayment; whether you are entitled to a refund of an Income Compliance debt; the process for receiving a refund; or the Income Compliance (‘Robodebt’) class action, you will need to seek information from Services Australia.