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Preventing Abuse

Preventing abuse means having clear policies and guidelines in place that are built on human rights and practices which maximise the empowerment of people with disability and person-centred approaches.

Prevention is also about creating the right organisational cultures; ensuring staff have the right values, experience, attitudes, supervision and training. It’s about clear and transparent processes where feedback is sought, people can speak up without recrimination and there is a prompt response.

Positive Cultures

Group of people sitting in a lounge room having a conversation

Positive Cultures is a set of eight short films and a guide to help you have conversations in your organisation about creating cultures where every person feels valued, listened to and safe to speak up.

Each film will help you to start a conversation about a different aspect of organisational culture. There are questions at the end of each film to help you to talk to each other.

Some tips for positive conversations:

  • Think about where and when you will have the conversation so that everyone is comfortable and free from distraction.
  • Make sure you allow enough time so that everyone has the opportunity to speak and be heard.
  • Think about what follow-up might be needed. Let people know how they can keep the conversation going and where they can get support if needed.
  • Consider who you would like to facilitate the conversation.

Download the Positive Cultures guide to find out more about the films and how you can use them.

Easy English Posititive Cultures Guide

Download an easy English version of the Positive Cultures guide.

Download PDF (685KB)  

Getting the support you need

Some of the things that are talked about in the films or that you talk about together might bring up feelings for people. This may be because of things you have experienced or seen in your work or personal life.

Please talk to someone you trust if you need to discuss any of the issues covered in these films. This may include a family member or friend, or a supervisor or manager. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for confidential 24-hour telephone crisis support.

Click the slider below, to preview the eight positive cultures short films

Positive Cultures: 

A positive culture in a workplace is one where: 

  • Every person is listened to and knows they will be listened to
  • Every person knows that they are equal
  • Every person feels valued and like their opinions matter
  • Every person in the organisation feels safe, comfortable and confident to speak up about everything.

Watch the film together and answer these three questions:

  • When have you experienced positive culture?
  • What are some of the best things about the culture in your organisation?
  • How do you celebrate what you do well?

Power and Control: 

Power can be used in good and bad ways. Some people have more power than others, and this is true in every part of our lives.

When we talk about having a positive culture in a workplace, we need to think about what we can do so that every person can use their own personal power.

Watch the film together and answer these three questions:

  • How can you recognise where power is not share equally?
  • What can you do about it?

Speaking Up: 

We might want to speak up because we are passionate about something. We might want to speak up because we have experienced or witnessed something that isn’t OK.

Feeling safe to speak up is important. We know that there are things that make it easier and things that make it harder.

Watch the film together and answer these three questions:

  • Do you feel confident to speak up about things you are passionate about?
  • Do you feel confident to speak up when you see something that is not OK?
  • What helps you to speak up?

Listening Well: 

Really listening to people well involves all of our senses, all of the time. Being listened to is also a really important part of feeling and being safe.

Watch the film together and answer these three questions:

  • When has someone listened to you well?
  • How did it feel?
  • How can you show people you are ready to listen?

Everyday Opportunities: 

Part of creating a culture where people know they will be listened to and supported is recognising and creating opportunities to do this every day.

Watch the film together and answer these three questions:

  • What are some everyday opportunities to check in with people that are important to you?
  • How do you let people know what’s important to you?
  • How do you check in with other people in your organisation throughout the day?
Structured Opportunities: 

Structured opportunities include things like meetings, feedback forms and complaints processes.

There are lots of ways to make these opportunities more positive and inclusive for everyone.

Watch this short film and use the questions to start a conversation about:

  • How are people with disability involved in decision-making processes in your organisation?
  • What do you do to make sure meetings work for everyone?
  • How do people make complaints or give feedback

The Right supports: 

People need to know what supports are available to them in their organisation.

They also need to know about other supports including peer support, advocacy, counselling and other specialist support, family and community and the police.

Watch the film together and answer these two questions:

  • What supports are available to people in your organisation?
  • How do people know where and how to access other supports?

The Way we use language: 

Sometimes the language used in disability services can hurt people and change the way others see them. We need to think about the words we use.

Watch the film together and answer these two questions:

  • What are some of the words you use or hear used that may be upsetting for people?
  • How can you work together to make changes to the language you use?

To watch all films on Vimeo, you can preview them at:

Practice Advice 1: Recruitment and Supervision: Information to assist service providers to use recruitment and screening processes to prevent potential abusers gaining employment. It provides useful tips that should form the basis of any good human resources processes for organisations that support people.

Practice Advice 2: Supervision and Safety: Information to assist disability service providers to use management, supervision and training to reduce the risk of abuse, neglect and violence toward people with disability using their services.

The Safer Services Toolkit
safer services toolkit logo

People with disability make decisions about services based on quality, safety and availability. The mantra of choice and control means specialist disability service providers need to pursue best practice when it comes to safeguarding people accessing services.

To make services safer, organisations need the right tools, training to support best practice. The Safer Services Toolkit provides practical tools and resources to enhance service quality and safeguarding systems and practices.

The Safer Services Toolkit complements NDS Zero Tolerance resources and is based on research by NDS WA in partnership with Curtin University that identified stakeholder experiences, perceptions and understandings of safeguarding practices of disability service organisations. The research included direct feedback from people with disability, families, advocates and service providers.

Safer Services toolkit: Overview (List of resources)

The Safer Services Toolkit can help organisations to build their internal capabilities and ensure all stakeholders including people with disability, families, staff and managers are part of this process. As a first step the Toolkit provides a Safer Services Plan followed by a suite of useful Safeguarding in Practice tools in line with the domains of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework:

  • Developmental
  • Preventative
  • Corrective

It also offers a second suite of Change Readiness tools to support organisations implement changes to their safeguarding practices and culture. The tools are in three stages:

  • Preparing for Change
  • Making Change
  • Embedding Change

The Safer Services project was funded by Lotterywest.

lotterywest logo

The Safer Services Plan assists organisations to identify their vision for best practice in safeguarding, explore current practices, strengths, gaps, areas for improvement, and actions to follow. Organisations can also identify Quality and Safeguarding Champions and involve them in the development of the Safer Services Plan.

Safer Services Plan A4 Printable Infographic:

The Safer Services Plan:

Quality and Safeguarding Champions

There are nine Safeguarding in Practice Tools to assist organisations to:

  • Improve awareness and understanding of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect
  • Create safe and transparent organisational cultures
  • Respond and report concerns and incidents of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation

Developmental Tools

Developmental Tools assist organisations to increase awareness and reflect on organisational values and consider issues such as abuse, neglect, supported decision making and duty of care. These tools help organisations identify areas for continuous improvement and develop action plans.

Talking about Safer Services


acilitators Guide:

Facilitators Worksheet:

Key Conversations:

Key Conversations Facilitators Guide:

Key Conversations Facilitators Cards:

Values Based-Practices:

Preventative Tools

Preventative Tools support organisation’s to reflect on the maturity of their commitment to safeguarding and to develop meaningful structures and processes that supports safer services. These tools also support continuous improvement and action planning.

Policy Development Checklist:

Organisational Health Check:

Safeguarding Meeting Kit:


Corrective Tools:

Corrective Tools assist organisations to establish processes to support staff to raise concerns, undertake investigations and to appropriately debrief staff after an incident has occurred.

Resoponding to concerns:



Investigations Workbook:

Debriefing Tool:

The Change Readiness Tools provided a process to support the implementation of changes to safeguarding. The tools can be used to build a culture that involves all stakeholders in the change. This suite of tools has three stages:

  • Preparing for Change
  • Making Change
  • Embedding Change

Preparing for Change:

Our Change Vision:

Establishing a Change Leadership Committee:

Change Readiness Checklist for Managers:

Change Leadership Guidance:

Change Communication Plan:

My guide to change readiness:

Making Change:

A fair culture approach:

Implementation Intentions:

Maximising Performance Framework:

Before Action Planning and After Action Reviews templates (BAP/ABR):

Embedding Change:

Continuous Improvement Ideas Submission Form:

Recognition and Rewards Roadmap:

Links to other useful resources:

Zero Tolerance Webinar: Discussing the prevention of abuse, neglect and violence towards people with disability

National Disability Services hosted an interactive webinar discussing the prevention of abuse, neglect and violence towards people with disability on the 30th of June 2020.

This webinar includes the following presentation:

  • A Human Rights Based Approach to Supporting People with Disability - Rosemary Kayess, recipient of the 2019 Human Rights medal in recognition of her work in international human rights law for people with disability.
  • Building Safe and Respectful Cultures in Disability Services - Sally Robinson, Professor of Disability and Community Inclusion, Flinders University.
  • "I'm too scared to come out of my room" - Preventing and responding to violence and abuse between co-residents in group homes - Colleen Pearce, Victorian Public Advocate
  • Understanding the Importance of Practice Leadership, Supervision and Reflective Practice - Nathan Despott, Manager, Policy and Projects, Inclusion Melbourne
An overview of the tools and resources available to providers through NDS's Zero Tolerance Initiative and the Safer Services Toolkit is also provided.

Contact information

For any enquiries on the Safer Services Plan and Toolkit, please contact Carmen Pratts-Hincks, Project Lead - Quality and Safeguarding, 08 9208 9856, submit enquiry/feedback

For any enquiries on Zero Tolerance, please contact: Mary Lou McPherson, National Practice Lead - Zero Tolerance Initiative, (03) 8341 4300, submit enquiry/feedback

© National Disability Services (NDS) 2017 applies to NDS Zero Tolerance logo, Zero Tolerance Framework and The Empowerment Circle.

Copyright permissions
NDS grants permission for users to copy, distribute, display, download and otherwise freely deal with Zero Tolerance resources for any personal or organisational purpose, on condition that proper acknowledgment is included on all uses.Any use of zero Tolerance resources for commercial gain is strictly prohibited.