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Safeguards and quality

  • Issues papers
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This issues paper asked the public to share their views about how people with disability experience safeguards, what promotes quality in services, and how these may prevent and reduce their exposure to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The issues paper asks 11 questions to help people and organisations to provide responses. 

Auslan video

Issues paper - Safeguards and quality (Auslan)


Safeguards and quality Issues paper


The Disability Royal Commission has released an issues paper. We want to know how safeguards and quality services for people with disability may prevent and reduce violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability.

We are asking people to respond to the list of questions on our website about safeguards and quality services.

Current approaches

People with disability access a range of services throughout their life. Providing high quality services is an important safeguard against violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Like everyone, people with disability live complex and multi-faceted lives that go beyond their interaction with systems and services. Safeguards need to be cover all these areas.

Formal and informal safeguarding measures exist in a range of other areas of life, including disability services, health care, education, group homes, justice and workplaces.

When a combination of formal and informal measures are tailored to individuals’ needs, they provide strong safeguards. However, these safeguards should be provided in a way that enables people with disability to have choice and control in how they live, including taking risks.

Informal and formal safeguards

Examples of informal safeguards are individuals’ skills and confidence, self-advocacy to speak out about concerns and having a network of trusted people to support people with disability.

Formal safeguards include legislation, policies and practices, organisational culture, complaint processes and regulatory oversight of service providers and disability support staff.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework is one source of formal safeguards for people with disability. It aims to ensure high quality services and safe environments for NDIS participants while providing supports that promote their right to choice and control.

Other safeguarding measures

Other safeguards include:

  • Developmental measures that aim to change negative culture and strengthen quality and safeguards, such as public awareness campaigns and workplace cultural change programs
  • Preventative measures that aim to ensure high quality services and minimise the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, such as standards for screening workers, or practice standards for providers and professionals
  • Corrective measures that are used to respond when incidents occur, such as complaint processes or independent inspection of closed environments, such as group homes.

Responding to the issues paper

We want to know about safeguards and quality services, current gaps and ways safeguards can be improved to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

We also want to know about good practices, as this will help us with our work.

You do not have to answer every question on the issues paper.You can respond in any way you like - by video or in writing.

To read the full issues paper and for more details on how to respond, go to the Publications section on our website.

Overview of responses to the Safeguards and quality Issues paper (Auslan)

Overview of responses to the Safeguards and quality Issues paper


In December 2020 we asked people to tell us their ideas, thoughts and opinions on the topic of ‘safeguards and quality’ for people with disability.

‘Safeguards’ are actions that protect the rights of people to keep them safe from harm, abuse and neglect. They must also give people choice and control over their lives.

There are 2 types of safeguards:

  • Natural safeguards are things like having people around you that you trust, being part of the community, having a job.
  • Formal safeguards are things like policies, practices and culture in organisations that prevent violence or abuse. They include complaints processes.

‘Quality’ services are services that focus on providing positive outcomes for people who use them. They are designed by individuals and staff, and are continually improved.

What did people say?

We collected 47 responses from people about safeguards and quality. We have published a summary of what we were told in these responses. 

People said:

  • There should be a mix of natural and formal safeguards to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
  • Natural safeguards are very powerful, and we need to give them more attention.
  • Giving people choice and control over their lives and decisions must be balanced with keeping them safe.
  • We need to get better at identifying people with disability in high risk situations and making sure they are safe and supported. For example, someone with complex communication needs or who is socially isolated may find it difficult to complain.
  • Community Visitors have a critical role in keeping people safe and we should boost their role and funding.
  • There needs to be more checks of supported accommodation facilities to make sure they comply with standards.
  • Complaints processes needs to be more accessible. (Some people are scared of complaining, they don’t know how to report a problem or who to report to).
  • We need to change workplace culture and practices. Workplaces need a positive culture around safety, better screening of new staff and more direct supervision of staff.  
  • The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission needs to be stricter in enforcing standards. There should be clearer roles between the Quality and Safeguards Commission and other agencies around who is responsible for keeping people safe.

More information

The full overview of what people told us is on our website. We’ve also published the responses from individuals and organisations.

Go the ‘Publications’ section and search ‘safeguards and quality’.