Our journey of change

Since 2011, Yooralla has been on a journey of continuous change and improvement. We have undertaken an extensive program of reform to embed a safeguards and human rights framework to better protect the rights and well-being of our customers from abuse, harm and neglect.

A timeline of some of the major steps in our journey of change is set out below, as well as what we are doing today.

2011: Disclosure

Disclosures of sexual assault against some customers in a Yooralla residential service were made at the end of 2011 and in early 2012. Subsequently, two other disclosures of sexual assaults were made in two regional areas in 2012 and in 2014, respectively. It was a traumatic and painful experience for the survivors of the sexual abuse, our customers. These events were also very difficult and distressing for their families and carers, and our staff.

We are very sorry and deeply regret what occurred and the impact it has had, and continues to have, on the lives of our customers, their families, our staff and members of the community.

The three perpetrators were found guilty of their crimes and imprisoned.

2012: The Joyce Review

As a result of the sexual assaults, the Victorian Department of Human Services and Yooralla instigated an independent review, called the Joyce Review. The Joyce Review examined Yooralla’s management of allegations of assault. In response to the Joyce Review report, Yooralla established its Client Well-being and Safeguards Action Plan. Learn more about the Joyce Report 2012.

2013: HDAA External Audit

The Joyce Report recommended that Yooralla conduct two external audits to ensure that Yooralla was progressing with the implementation of the Client Well-being and Safeguards Action Plan (the Plan). Health & Disability Auditing Australia (HDAA) was appointed as the independent auditor to assess Yooralla’s implementation of the Plan. HDAA’s second audit in February 2014 found that Yooralla had exceeded the recommendations of the Joyce Report and had achieved significant organisational cultural change.

2013: Introduction of the IGUANA Protocol

Yooralla supported and contributed to the development of the Interagency Guidelines for Addressing Violence, Neglect and Abuse (IGUANA) protocol by the Office of the Public Advocate. The IGUANA protocol focusses on a swift response to incidents with a focus on the survivor’s rights and well-being. Yooralla worked with Victoria Police to draft a protocol for the reporting of criminal conduct to the police. Victoria Police endorsed this protocol in November 2013.

2014: Full certification against National and State Standards for Disability Services

In November 2014, Yooralla underwent an external, triennial recertification audit, conducted by government-approved auditors, SAI Global.  The audit assessed Yooralla's compliance against the National and State Standards for Disability Services. Yooralla achieved full recertification and has retained full certification in all subsequent audits.

2014: Safeguards training

Since 2014, Yooralla’s focus on the rights and safeguards of all customers has been embedded through staff training delivered via online tools and face-to-face workshops. This training is compulsory for those who directly work with customers and in shared services roles.

Our training includes preventing, recognising and responding to abuse, harm and neglect. Our training continues to be updated and enhanced through applying best practice from the sector. Read more about our safeguards training.

2015: Enhanced pre-employment screening

In 2015, an enhanced pre-employment screening process was introduced for all roles at Yooralla. This includes:

  • Three-yearly police checks (Australia and International)
  • Psychometric testing for Disability Support Workers to ensure suitability for the role
  • Group information and assessment workshops
  • Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme (DWES) checks (Yooralla has complied with the requirements of the DWES since its commencement in September 2014).

2015: Establishment of Customer Rights and Empowerment team

In 2015, Yooralla established a dedicated Customer Rights and Empowerment team to provide internal advocacy support to our customers. Read about our Customer Rights and Empowerment Team.

2015: Commonwealth and State inquiries into abuse of people with disability

In 2014, ABC’s Four Corners and The Age reported on the abuse of Yooralla customers. Following this coverage, Commonwealth and State government inquiries occurred into the abuse of people with disability. Read more about the Inquiries and Yooralla's participation in them.

2015: Introduction of RiskMan, online information management

In 2015, Yooralla introduced a commercial online information risk management system, called RiskMan, which captures every customer and staff incident (from minor to major). All incidents are recorded and follow-up actions are generated, tracked and reported on. All incidents (major and non-major) are reported to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. Yooralla was one of the first disability organisations in Victoria to introduce an online incident reporting system.

All feedback, including complaints, suggestions, compliments and Community Visitor reports, has also been recorded on RiskMan since 2015.

RiskMan provides a comprehensive and timely process for the investigation of allegations and incidents. It also provides a valuable source of data for analysis to identify trends and improve practice. Read more about reports developed from data in RiskMan.

2015: Yooralla Service Review KPMG

In the period February – July 2015, international audit and advisory firm, KPMG, conducted a Funded Organisation Service Review of Yooralla on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The review’s focus was on safety and quality in Yooralla’s services provision and the management and governance systems that ensures that provision. The resulting report found that Yooralla was delivering better and safer outcomes for customers as a result of actions taken.

2015: Yooralla’s Community Partnership Advisory Committee

In 2015, Yooralla established its Community Partnership Advisory Committee (YCPAC), comprising representatives of Yooralla customers and families who provide their perspectives on Yooralla’s services and strategy. YCPAC is regularly advised and consulted about Yooralla’s safeguarding program.

2017: KPMG Review

Yooralla invited KPMG to conduct a follow up to its 2015 audit and conduct a review of safeguarding at Yooralla. KPMG assessed Yooralla’s safeguarding systems, policies and procedures.

KPMG found that:

  • Yooralla’s policies and procedures are consistent with contemporary safeguarding approaches and a holistic approach to safeguarding, with a clear emphasis on customer empowerment, rights-based practice, and the importance of continuous improvement at both an organisational and staff level,
  • All Yooralla's policies reviewed are up-to-date, link to other relevant policies and supporting documents, and identify applicable legislation and standards,
  • Yooralla has invested significant effort in developing effective systems for recording incidents, monitoring responses, and identifying opportunities to mitigate risks, and
  • Yooralla was well placed in relation to complying with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework.

Read the full KPMG report (Download PDF, 157kb).

2018: Enhanced staff training

Yooralla implemented enhanced safeguarding training for all staff across the organisation.

  • New online eLearning training was introduced that combined the Victorian Department of Health and Humans Services’ Code of Conduct as well as Yooralla’s safeguarding training. When direct service staff (including disability support workers and therapists) successfully complete the course, they sign a document agreeing to abide by the Code of Conduct.
  • A training program around professional and personal boundaries was introduced for all staff. Face-to-face sessions were implemented to promote discussion around customer rights and to reiterate the Code of Conduct.
  • Person Centred Active Support: Supporting Inclusion is a training program designed by LaTrobe University that has been rolled out to all disability support workers. The purpose of the program is to create an opportunity for disability support workers to think about what social inclusion means for people with disability. It provides useful tools and strategies for staff to consider when supporting people with disability to promote social inclusion.

Ongoing compliance

Yooralla continues to meet all legislative and compliance requirements with no non-conformances. Yooralla has received no non-conformances in all surveillance audits, conducted by SAI Global, against the following standards:

  • December 2015: National Standards for Disability Services at Yooralla’s Business Enterprises and Corporate Services,
  • May 2016: Human Service Standards at Yooralla’s Residential and Respite Support Services, Community Services and Corporate Services,
  • December 2016: National Standards for Disability Services at Yooralla’s Business Enterprises and Corporate Services,
  • December 2017: Human Service Standards at Yooralla’s Residential and Respite Support Services, Community Services and against the National Standards for Disability Services at Yooralla’s Business Enterprises and Corporate Services,
  • May 2018: Victorian Early Childhood Intervention Standards – 2016,
  • January 2019: National Standards for Disability Services at Yooralla’s Business Enterprises and Corporate Services, and
  • May 2019: Human Service Standards at Yooralla’s Residential and Respite Support Services, Community Services and Corporate Services.

Internal audits

To ensure both efficiency and continuous quality improvement, Yooralla also undertakes a program of internal audits on our shared services functions. RSM conducts these internal audits, which cover procurement, asset management, finance, payroll, marketing, workforce planning, occupational health and safety and information technology. RSM are currently auditing customer complaint management.


Yooralla is continuously improving safeguarding initiatives focussed on the prevention and elimination of abuse.

Read more about what Yooralla is doing today to safeguard people with disability.

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