Safeguarding in the Disability Sector: The Royal Commission and Worker Screening - Oho

Safeguarding in the Disability Sector: The Royal Commission and Worker Screening

March 2024
4 minutes



The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability highlighted the critical importance of compliance, best practice, and monitoring for safeguarding within the disability service sector.

With Public hearings and a range of evidence from the sector, the Royal Commission findings, released September 2023, provide recommendations and reminders of legislation to ensure best practice and safeguarding for People with Disabilities.

Disability Service Providers play a pivotal role in supporting 1.7 million individuals with disabilities, with over 9,000 organizations and more than 220,000 employed providers active in Australia.

The CEO of the National Disability Services (NDS), Laurie Leigh, highlighted a 25 to 30 percent annual turnover rate within the sector, emphasizing the need for robust screening processes for all personnel supporting people with disabilities.

Ms Leigh stressed that anyone providing support to a person with disability should be subject to screening.

Governance and leadership within Disability Service Providers are crucial for identifying and managing risks, including violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Legal obligations under various laws further reinforce the need for these organisations to ensure compliance with worker screening, work health and safety laws and Fair Work Act obligations.

The Royal Commission’s Code of Conduct mandates that services and supports must be provided safely and competently, with providers taking all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to any form of harm.

Registered Disability Service Providers must ensure all workers undergo valid worker screening checks and are subject to verification audits to uphold professional practice standards and regulations.


So is your organisation sufficiently covered in fulfilling these obligations?

We know that there are 3 key challenges to ensuring quality screening.

  1. Volume and speed
    With 25 to 30 percent turnover of workers annually, recruiting and retaining a suitably skilled workforce continues to be a significant challenge for service provider organisations (Royal Commission, 2023). The consequences of high turnover extend beyond mere inconvenience; they disrupt continuity of care, strain resources, and compromise service quality. The challenge is ensuring hiring candidates have the required right-to-work credentials, which are vital to delivering a professional standard of care and to ensure continuity of service.  Screening short-cuts in a talent scarce environment may be tempting but not worth the risk.  Oho offers rapid screening of key credentials in the disability sector to speed up recruitment.
  2. Manual screening practices are onerous
    Robust ongoing screening processes are essential for ensuring compliance of a workforce, be they employee, volunteer or contractor for an organisation operating in the disability sector.  An increasingly large ‘unregistered’ workforce present a risk unless a range of worker credentials are collected and their ongoing validity monitored.  For the HR team, these processes can be manual and onerous..  Checking against government registers is manual and ‘one person’ at a time, placing a huge burden on HR admin teams Disability Service Providers face regulatory administration burdens when adhering to registration policies and obligations and screening is no exception unless using an automation tool such as Oho.
  3. Missing a revocation of a “right-to-work” credential
    With manual processes and significant amounts of data to be managed, service providers expose themselves to process errors and inadvertently overlooking a people risk that needs immediate intervention. Government registers don’t always notify promptly so automation offers a much more robust solution.  Missing a revocation and leaving someone in a role that they are not authorised to have risks claims, fines and even the mission.


In the case of Anne Marie Smith, a 54-year-old woman with cerebral palsy in full-time care, Directors of the Disability Service provider were charged with criminal neglect causing death and failing to comply with a health and safety duty of care because of the conduct of their case workers. Smith died while in full care after being subjected to appalling living conditions and neglect.  Smith’s case is also a stark reminder of the severe consequences that can result from negligence in the screening and monitoring compliance obligations.

Directors are liable for the safeguarding compliance of an organisation.

So, what’s the solution?

How can disability service providers navigate these intricate challenges effectively? One approach gaining traction is through screening automation.

Meet Oho. A software platform for initial and ongoing screening in the Care and Community sector.


“OHO has automated the process of manually verifying the currency of required employee accreditations across the business. This both saves time and provides us with confidence that if something changes, we’ll be notified. Knowledge of these changes as quickly as possible is vital to our ability to maintain safety at our locations for both clients and employees”.
– a large disability organisation based in Melbourne

How does Oho help?

  1. Faster recruitment screening – increased speed-to-hire and worker screening for 100% confidence in your candidates.
  2. Smarter Automation – continuous “always on” verification of credentials for all your workforce against live government portals with rapid notification of status changes.
  3. Reduce manual handling and error – easy to use system to reduce your excel spreadsheets or integrate with your HR system of choice.
  4. Simple and Central – all your accreditations in one platform.
  5. Save on cost – overall positive Return on Investment for cheaper, safer, and faster verification of credentials.


“By leveraging technology and innovative solutions, disability service providers can enhance worker screening processes, reduce error and risk, and foster a culture of safety and excellence. Collaboration with trusted partners like Oho enables organizations to stay ahead of regulatory requirements, streamline operations, and ultimately, deliver unparalleled care to those in need.”
– Oho CEO and Co-Founder, Claire Rogers

Oho provides screening and continuous monitoring of a wide range of credentials relevant to care and community organisations and those that support them including national coverage of working with children checks, national disability worker cards, AHPRA (health and allied health), Visa Entitlement registrations (VEVO) and other background checks.

Oho protects over 2.9 million Australians and has completed more than 5 million verifications. Oho has detected more than 100 revoked accreditations since inception and assisted with rectifying thousands of compliance irregularities.  Oho has also saved care and community organisations many hours of manual labour and cost.

For more information about continuous credential verification with Oho, click the button below.

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