Large care providers are in the crosshairs of a royal commission delving into the abuse, neglect and exploitation of Australians with disabilities.
The long-awaited inquiry held its first public session in Brisbane on Monday, with chair Ronald Sackville QC promising to shine a spotlight on one of the nation's enduring shames.
But work is already well underway, with private care providers linked to the National Disability Insurance Scheme warned they must cooperate.
"The first steps have already been taken," senior counsel assisting the commission Rebecca Treston QC told Monday's hearing.
Warning letters went out last week to some of Australia's largest NDIS providers.
Formal notices will soon follow, demanding details of any complaints or investigations into instances of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation involving their clients.
Mr Sackville said he and his six fellow commissioners were facing a truly formidable task, potentially broader in scope than the child abuse royal commission which only examined abuse in institutional settings.
They will methodically examine how Australia is living up to UN conventions safeguarding the human rights of people living with a disability.
They will consider why past inquiries have failed to address critical issues, including that people with disabilities face levels of physical and sexual violence far beyond what is seen in the broader community.
And they will hear traumatic, personal accounts of abuse wherever it happened, from private households to shared homes, schools to workplaces, and prisons to hospitals.
Commissioner Andrea Mason said a particular focus on indigenous people with disabilities was warranted, describing them as a marginalised group within a marginalised group.
"They experience racism and ethnocentrism like other First Nations brothers and sisters experience. However they see, hear and feel a greater level of discrimination above what I and other brothers and sisters experience because they have a disability," the indigenous commissioner said.
She said some indigenous people with disabilities had framed their experiences as "a type of apartheid".
"They have experienced times of exclusion, invisibility and being at the edge of our society. Non-Indigenous Australians with disability have described their life circumstances in similar ways," she said.
"And if their description of life feels like and behaves like a system of apartheid, then we have a point of reference from which we want to ... depart."
The inquiry is already dogged by drama, with dozens of disability advocates and organisations calling on two commissioners, John Ryan and Barbara Bennett, to step down over a perceived conflict of interest.
Both are former bureaucrats who oversaw parts of the disability system, and Mr Ryan was also the NSW shadow minister for the sector.
But Mr Sackville has said people will not have to make submissions to commissioners they hold concerns about, and he's free to exclude commissioners from aspects of the inquiry if he believes that is warranted.
Australian Associated Press