How can you meet director obligations with a strong HR screening process? - Oho

How can you meet director obligations with a strong HR screening process?

July 2023
3 minutes

A cold shower ran over boardrooms across Australia in late 2022 when the corporate regulator sued 11 directors and executives of Star Entertainment. 

It’s easy to believe that the illegality at Star was confined to the gaming sector. But the Australian Securities and Investment Commission issued a chilling reminder to every director that they are not immune from litigation. 

Company directors have a legal and moral obligation to exercise a duty of care and diligence, ensuring the companies they lead are free from crime and wrongdoing.

It is a job of ongoing vigilance. Crime does not always present itself neatly. In fact, the worst criminals are experts at hiding in plain sight. 

Nowhere does this present a greater risk than in sectors working with children, the elderly and those with a disability.  

While several royal commissions in recent years have shown companies and organisations repeatedly failed in their duties to ensure the elderly and children in their care were free from harm, sadly, these inquiries have only scratched the surface. 

I am sickened and shocked at the story of Ann Marie Smith – a 54-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in April 2020 from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment. 

Ann did not attract the same level of media interest and headlines as Star Entertainment, yet the consequences for the directors who were responsible for her care are equally severe.  

Two directors of the disability support service that provided care to Ann have been charged with criminal neglect, with police finding that she lived in “disgusting and degrading” conditions, believing she was confined to a cane chair for 24 hours a day in the year before her death. 

The directors were charged, specifically for deploying unsuitable workers that led to Anne Marie’s tragic death.  The organisation also did not adequately collect and maintain their worker credentials amongst other failings. 

Every company director should pay attention to Ann’s case. After all, what director could ever be close enough to the worker deployment to be confident those in their care were safe?   

Directors are accountable for systems and processes as these set the culture of safety and risk mitigation. 

Directors cannot simply rely on management to absolve themselves of this burden. After all, a director can delegate but not defer to management. They are on the hook, and that requires a more of a hands-on approach than attending periodic board meetings. 

While HR departments are the custodians of employee screening, the responsibility of non-compliance reaches all the way to the boardroom.  

Companies must continuously monitor the registration of workers, scanning every registry regularly. While this burden now falls on different managers, the duty of care ultimately sits with the board of directors. 

But how often do boards ask their executives about the status of compliance; and how confident can the director be that every worker holds a current registration at any time? 

The best way to mitigate the risk to directors of charges of negligence is to ensure these accreditations are checked, verified, monitored, and arecord kept in an auditable manner to ensure that there is concrete evidence of reasonable care.  It is not enough to say that a card was sighted on hiring. 

Oho has completed more than 5 million verifications of employee, volunteer and contractor credentials on behalf of its clients since the creation of the company.  Oho covers a wide range of credentials relevant to care and community organisations and those that support them including national coverage of working with children checks, teachers’ licences, national disability worker cards, AHPRA (health and allied health), VEVO and other background checks for recruitment screening and ongoing monitoring.  

Oho has detected 27 revoked accreditations and more than 1,100 irregularities since the beginning of the 2023.  

CEO and founder of Oho, Claire Rogers said the beauty of automated credential verification management is that it creates an “independent safeguarding umpire” agnostic of power structures, to ensure any employee, volunteer or contractor that working with vulnerable people is safe to serve, minimising community risk of harm.  

“Risk mitigation of the type that Oho provides is a way to put strong safeguarding defences around an organisation and to deter those with intent from ever coming near,” she said. 


Oho can help support the HR team to protect those in your care and the reputation of your company. If you wish to make an appointment to speak with Oho: 







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