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Safer Services Toolkit

Newly updated, the toolkit gives providers what they need to build their internal quality and safeguarding capabilities to the highest standards.

Website shows jobseekers how to make their own video resumés

NDS’s online resource is a free, easy, step-by-step guide for jobseekers and employment services to make stand-out presentations to potential employers.

NDS Skills Project

This project aims to identify the key skills and training required by the disability workforce to increase the sector's capability.

Addressing Occupational Violence in the Victorian Disability Sector

Key benefits

  • Practical resources to help ensure the safety of staff
  • Research highlighting how high-quality supports that uphold the human rights of people with disability lead to worker safety 
  • Quick links to resources to use to develop training, update policies and implement safe work practices

On this page

Who is this for?

Everyone in the disability sector can and should contribute to keeping everybody safe. 

Overview - Keeping everybody safe

Keeping everyone safe and understanding how to do this in disability services is the aim of an NDS project being undertaken in 2022 and 2023. The aim of this project is to address occupational violence and the current focus is on participant and worker interactions. 

We need to ensure people with disability receive high quality supports that uphold their human rights and ensure that workers have a safe working environment. A safe environment for everyone is one where physical and psychological risks are identified, managed, and prevented.  

This hub provides the disability sector with access to information, tools, and resources to understand the risks and the solutions to reduce and prevent them. When organisations support participants and workers to have the skills, resources, and/or environments to achieve this, we keep everybody safe. 

There are multiple components to achieve this aim. The scan of the evidence-based literature strongly indicates:  

  • The importance of the leadership from the executive levels that development of capable environments
  • Embedding use of positive behaviour support principles across the services (not just where behaviours of concern have been identified)
  • The use of person-centred active support
  • Incorporating a trauma informed support approach
  • Understanding and using communication systems that support both expressive and receptive communication
  • Building skills to ensure everyone can have a meaningful life and is part of their community

The graphic illustrates the foundation of good practice for all that builds to be more tailored to meet specific needs. 

Pyramid diagram: The graphic illustrates the foundation of good practice for all that builds to be more tailored to meet specific needs.

Image description: Pyramid diagram. Top tier says Comprehensive assessment and PBS plan with specialist interventions, monitoring, and evaluation. Second tier says All of level one strategies, and brief functional assessment, function-based Positive Behaviour Support plan and individual strategies in key areas. Third tier says Whole of organisation approach - Foundations of Positive Behaviour Support, knowledge that all behaviour has a function - Total communication environment - Trauma informed support, Person-centred active support - Community presence - Positive risk taking

Image adapted from: Five ways to use positive behaviour support strategies in your classroom | Monash Education and Positive Behaviour Support Framework | PBS Alliance UK

Equipping the workforce with the training and skills to best support people, to recognise signs of distress and intervene early with non-aversive reactive strategies promotes a human rights approach and reduces and prevents the risk of behaviours that challenge. Training is needed to build and support worker’s capabilities and to be regularly reinforced through both general worker professional development and individual supervision. 

Key elements in providing high quality services that address Occupational Violence

Positive behaviour support 

Positive behaviour support aims to improve a person's quality of life and that of the people around them. There is evidence that links training in PBS and reductions in levels of behaviours that challenge from people receiving support. 

Creating a total communication environment 

Many people require additional support with communication, such understanding and interpreting communication (receptive language) and expressing themselves. They may use a combination of speaking, gesturing, writing, facial expressions, use of symbols systems, body language and vocalisations. 

Trauma informed support 

Many people with severe disability have a history of trauma, and this can be a trigger for behaviours that challenge. It is important to understand how this experience may present additional risks for a person responding with behaviours that challenge.  

Person-centred active support 

Person-centred active support aims to involve people with disability in actively in making choices and taking part in meaningful activities and social relationships.

Recognising restrictive practice 

A restrictive practice is 'any practice or intervention that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person with disability' (NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission). Restrictive practises should only be used in limited circumstances, as a last resort and the least restrictive response should be chosen. Their use needs to be part of a positive behaviour support plan and needs to the reported to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. 

Practice Leadership 

There is a critical role for frontline supervisors/service managers in assisting workers to understand and implement good practice including positive behaviour support, active support, trauma informed support and enhancing communication. 

Organisational Leadership Resources 

Supporting people who have the potential to use behaviours that challenge requires an organisation-wide approach. A system that builds the capabilities of both people with disability and their support workers minimises the likelihood of the use of behaviours that challenge. 

Resources for Behaviour Support Practitioners 

Behaviour Support Practitioners assess people with disability's behavioural needs, develop behavioural support plans in conjunction with people and their support team, and evaluate the effectiveness of those plans. They have a key role in providing training and support to strengthen the practice skills and knowledge of all staff. Behaviour Support Practitioners must be registered with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

General publications, toolkits, and web links for Australian workplaces 

Disability services publications and toolkits

Health services publications and toolkits

Working alone

The introduction of the NDIS has seen an increase in the number of workers working alone in both the community and private homes. It is important that risk assessments have been carried out prior to services being delivered and staff have had safety training. This may include dynamic environmental risk assessment, assessing your safety in each situation, how to use de-escalation techniques and instilling a culture of removing yourself from an unsafe situation. 

Addressing Occupational Violence workshops  

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Fiona Still, Senior Policy and Projects Officer Occupational Violence, submit enquiry/feedback, show phone number