Guidelines for supervisors in Australian Disability Enterprises using the Quality Assurance booklets


The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) is responsible for overseeing Quality Assurance in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). FaHCSIA has put in place a Quality Assurance system to ensure that ADEs provide the best possible employment environment for their supported employees.

Every ADE must demonstrate through an independent audit that they meet the Disability Services Standards, in order to obtain a certificate of compliance and receive funding from FaHCSIA. 

This document is intended for use by supervisors in ADEs who are responsible for guiding supported employees through the Quality Assurance process.  The purposes of this document are:

  • To give background to the concept of Quality Assurance and the process of assessing ADEs, including the roles that supervisors might play in the auditing process;
  • To outline the purpose of the Easy Read Quality Assurance resources;
  • To outline how the Easy Read Quality Assurance resources are intended to be used;
  • To provide some guidance on how to assist supported employees to best understand and use the Easy Read Quality Assurance resources; and
  • To highlight the availability of a Standard Read Quality Assurance booklet for those not requiring Easy Read material.

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Quality Assurance 

The Quality Assurance process for ADEs has been described by FaHCSIA as:

… a quality assurance system of accredited certification… which uses international standards of best practice. Service providers are required to be certified against the…  Disability Services Standards with… related key performance indicators (KPIs)1
More broadly, Quality Assurance relates to systematic assessment, evaluation and certification processes put in place to ensure that services operate at a high standard, providing well managed and effective systems that meet the required outcomes for that service.

Important aspects of Quality Assurance for ADEs include ensuring that:

  • The ADE operates and provides services to its supported employees  according to the Disability Services Standards;
  • Supported employees are fairly and appropriately paid for the work they do;
  • Each supported employee has a well-considered and personalised Employment Assistance Plan, and appropriate support funding; and
  • Supported employees can freely make and have resolved any complaints or disputes within the workplace.

Further information on the specific assessment criteria and the Disability Services Standards can be found at:

  1. Quality Strategy Toolkit:

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The role of ADE supervisors in the Quality Assurance process 

This section briefly outlines the role and major responsibilities of ADE supervisors in each stage of the Quality Assurance and auditing processes.  The information provided in this document is for general purposes only, and should be supplemented with further documentation and specific instructions contained within the Quality Strategy Toolkit, which can be accessed on the FaHCSIA website at:

Quality Assurance for ADEs is based on a three year cycle, and involves annual audit visits.  The stages in the process are:

  • Preparation
  • Assessment by the audit team
  • Certification or period of improvement

1. Preparation

Depending on your role within your ADE, your major responsibilities during this stage of the Quality Assurance process could include:

  • Gathering and reviewing background information on your ADE;
  • Choosing, contacting and liaising with a certification body;
  • Notifying FaHCSIA of your ADE’s intention to become certified, if this is the first time you are participating in the Quality Assurance process;
  • Conducting an internal audit that self-assesses your ADE against the Disability Services Standards and associated KPIs; and
  • Assisting supported employees to understand the Quality Assurance process by explaining background information and concepts.

Internal Audit

In some ADEs, the Quality Assurance process will begin with an internal audit. The internal audit involves ADEs assessing themselves against the Disability Services Standards and associated KPIs, as well as assessing their business, organisational and financial practices.  This involves supervisors looking at records and discussing aspects of Quality Assurance in order to gather specified types of evidence of quality. Part of the internal audit may also involve discussing supported employees’ satisfaction with their workplace.  Depending on what your ADE considers most appropriate for your particular employees, this could involve: face-to-face or telephone interviews; questionnaires; feedback forms; focus groups/group discussions; a suggestions box; or simply talking with supported employees about what they think of the workplace.  Not all ADEs will be required to conduct an internal audit.

Resources, evidence guidelines and self-assessment worksheets for supervisors in ADEs conducting an internal audit can be found at: #p3, and

At the end of the internal audit, ADEs may write a report on their business to provide to the audit team.

Assisting supported employees to understand background information and concepts

Supervisors in ADEs are responsible for assisting supported employees to prepare for and understand the Quality Assurance process.  This will involve you:

  • Explaining what will happen when the audit team comes;
  • Advising supported employees of when the audit team assessment will be;
  • Giving examples of the types of questions that the audit team will ask supported employees;
  • If deemed appropriate for your particular group of employees, giving employees the opportunity to ‘practice’ speaking to audit team members in mock interviews or role plays;
  • Explaining key ethical ideas involved in the Quality Assurance and auditing process in a way that the supported employees will understand.  These ideas should cover explanations for and discussions about: ‘informed consent’, ‘evidence’, ‘confidentiality’ and ‘privacy’; and
  • Directing supported employees to the Easy Read or Standard Read Quality Assurance booklets, as appropriate.

2. Assessment by the audit team

An audit team will assess your ADE on an annual basis.  The team is sourced under contract from an independent certification body, so that it can provide a fair and impartial assessment.  The team is made up of a lead auditor, and could include a number of other auditors (depending on the size of your ADE) as well as a person with a disability, known as a ‘consumer technical expert’.  Depending on the size of your ADE, this may take one or a few days.  A larger-scale certification audit will take place once every three years, with smaller scale surveillance audits taking place in the two intervening years.

During the assessment by the audit team, as an ADE supervisor you may be required to:

  • Attend entry, audit review and exit meetings with the audit team and answer the audit team’s questions.
  • Assist the audit team to gather evidence, by:
    • Providing the audit team with the report from the internal audit, if conducted, and any other relevant information about your usual policies and procedures, including providing access to supported employees’ files, but ONLY if the supported employee has given consent;
    • Organising a sample of supported employees for the audit team to consult during the audit;
    • Assisting and enabling the audit team to speak with supported employees, including arranging for any assistance that supported employees may require to participate; and
    • Providing any other assistance required by the audit team.

The audit team assesses each ADE against Quality Assurance criteria.  The assessment of each criterion is based on gathering specified types of evidence.  The criteria are defined by each of the Disability Services Standards and associated key performance indicators (KPIs).  The audit team rates your ADE on each criterion, and then assesses these individual ratings together to form the overall assessment.  When the audit team assesses the ratings together, they pay particular attention to the lowest ratings.

The rating system used is:

  • Conformity: your ADE is achieving good quality and effective results.
  • Non-conformity: your ADE is achieving an average quality or partially-effective results, and requires some improvement.
  • Major non-conformity: your ADE is achieving a poor quality or ineffective result and this must be improved dramatically.

Further information on the specific assessment criteria can be found at: #p3

3. Certification or period of improvement

After the audit team has completed its assessment, they will write a report about their findings and decide if your ADE is meeting the Disability Services Standards and should be certified.

The audit team’s report

The audit team will write a report about your ADE, which outlines their ratings on each Disability Services Standard and associated KPIs, and their overall assessment.  The report will outline the strengths of your ADE, as well as the areas in which improvement is required.  Your ADE will receive a copy of the audit team’s report, as will FaHCSIA. 


In addition to writing the report, the audit team will make a decision about whether your ADE should be certified.

If a certification audit has been conducted and the audit team decides that your ADE complies with the Disability Services Standards a certificate of compliance will be issued.  Where a surveillance audit has been conducted, and a favourable audit result has been achieved, certification will be maintained. Suggestions for minor improvements may be offered, but your workplace will not be required to change anything.  Your ADE will continue to receive funding from FaHCSIA to assist in running the business and in meeting the support requirements of employees.

If the audit team decides that your ADE does not comply with the Disability Services Standards, it will outline what needs to be fixed and will give a deadline of when this needs to occur.  Once the problem areas are fixed, your ADE will have demonstrated that it meets the requirements for certification, and FaHCSIA funding will continue.  If the problems are not addressed within the required timeframe your ADE could lose its certification, and its future FaHCSIA funding will be at risk. 

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Purpose and intended use of the Easy Read Quality Assurance booklets 

This section outlines the purpose and intended use of the Easy Read Quality Assurance booklets. It should be used to assist in planning the use of these resources.

1. Purpose

The Easy Read Quality Assurance booklets have been designed for the benefit of supported employees with an intellectual disability, although they could have more widespread use with supported employees requiring less complex language for other reasons.  Easy Read information uses simple and clear language, in large font, which focuses on the most important key points that an individual needs to know.  Easy Read information is often more personalised than standard information.  Often Easy Read documents will include graphics and/or photography to support individuals’ understanding of the text.

The purpose of the booklets is to explain the Quality Assurance process in a way that is easy to understand.  This may have flow on benefits of:

  • Ensuring that supported employees know what is happening during the Quality Assurance process and alleviating some anxiety surrounding the assessment;
  • Maximising supported employees’ knowledge of the details of the Quality Assurance process, and enhancing their willingness to participate; and
  • Providing ADE supervisors with resources to use in the preparation stage of the Quality Assurance process.

2. Intended use

It is intended that copies of the booklet will be provided to supported employees early in the preparation stage of the Quality Assurance process.  Supported employees should be given a copy of the booklet, and time to read it may form part of the preparation stage.  Supported employees should also be encouraged to take it home and read it with someone outside the ADE who they trust. 

Depending on the literacy, concentration and cognitive abilities of the supported employee, he or she may be encouraged to read the whole booklet or to look through the sections and ‘question headings’ to focus in on the parts that he or she may be most concerned about.  There are six sections in each Easy Read booklet, in which a particular supported employee may have varying levels of interest.  In the Easy Read booklets these sections are titled:

  • About the book;
  • About the team;
  • About getting ready for the team;
  • About what happens when the audit team comes to your workplace;
  • About what you can do; and
  • About how to say when something is wrong.

Supported employees should also be encouraged to look at the pictures in the booklet to support their understanding of the text.

Some supported employees may require assistance to read the booklet.  This should be encouraged if it is required.  This may involve a supervisor reading through and discussing the booklet with one or a group of supported employees.  If the supported employee chooses to get help from outside the ADE, this may involve the trusted person, such as a family member, advocate or friend, sitting down with the supported employee and the booklet, and reading through it and explaining any content that may not be easily understood.

Intended use of the customisable photographic booklet

The customisable photographic booklet has been designed with the intention that up to 28 photographs can be inserted that are specific to your own ADE.  Throughout the electronic version of the booklet space and instructions have been provided to guide how you should customise the booklet.  Supervisors in ADEs who are looking to customise the material should refer closely to these instructions.  While 28 photographs may seem a large number, ADEs are encouraged to take up the option of customising this booklet, as it will greatly benefit supported employees.  Suggestions are included in the section below about ways to conveniently complete the photography.

The intention of the customisable photographic booklet is that photographs of a supported employee’s own workplace – photographs of the building they go to every day, of their manager, their workmates/friends – will be one of the most effective ways to supplement the Easy Read text.  By providing photographs of the supported employee’s own life, it is intended that the booklet will highlight just how relevant the Quality Assurance process is to him or her.  It will also provide concrete information about who to approach, where to go and what the Quality Assurance process will look like in their experience of it.  The customisable photographic booklet is aimed at providing personalised information.  See the appendix at the end of this document for a list of the photographs required, and the following section for further instructions and pointers on how to complete the customisation.

Intended use of the symbol system graphics booklet

The symbol system graphics booklet has been designed with the intention that this is used by supported employees who commonly use graphics or symbol systems to support their communication.  This is common among many people with an intellectual disability and/or difficulty with communication.  Some people may feel comfortable and have experience using graphics and symbol systems, and therefore may benefit from seeing familiar symbols in the Quality Assurance booklet.

The symbol system used in the booklet is called Picture Communication Symbols.  This is a commonly used set of symbols, and many supported employees may be familiar with it.  Some supported employees may be experienced using other symbol systems.  While these employees may not be familiar with the exact symbols in the booklet, they may still benefit from using simple and clear graphics and symbolism rather than photography.

Choosing a booklet

Supported employees requiring an Easy Read booklet should be asked whether they would prefer to use the customisable photographic booklet or symbol system graphics booklet.  This may require showing the employee both booklets and allowing him or her to choose.

If the supported employee is unable to make this choice, a decision should be made by another person experienced in communicating with the specific employee.  This decision should be based on past experiences of using communication supports with this employee in the workplace.

Standard Read booklet

A Standard Read booklet has also been provided for supported employees who do not require Easy Read text.  This should be used with supported employees who do not have an intellectual disability and do not require information to be presented in a less complex way for any other reason.  This booklet includes medium-sized font, more complex language, no graphics or photography, and more detail about the Quality Assurance process.

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Directions for the customisable photographic booklet 

The customisable photographic booklet has been designed to allow ADEs to adapt the booklet to reflect their specific employment environment.  Throughout the booklet the original Easy Read text has been included, however space has been left for ADEs to insert up to 28 photographs of their own supervisors, supported employees and working environments.  This is aimed at making the booklet as specific and relevant as possible for supported employees with an intellectual disability, although the booklet may be used for other groups requiring less complex information.  By including photographs of themselves/their friends/work colleagues and working environment, it is hoped that supported employees will be able to understand the Quality Assurance process in a more contextual and complete manner.

Throughout the electronic version of this booklet, space has been left for ADEs to insert customised photographs.  This space is outlined by a box.  The location and size of this box is a guideline for the location and size of each photograph.

Within each box are written guidelines about what the photograph should contain.  Each photograph is identified with a photo number (e.g. “Photo #”).  It is important to pay attention to the photo number indicated in the box, as some photographs may be able to be reused more than once in the booklet.  When using this booklet ADEs should try to follow these guidelines as closely as possible to maximise the impact, however some small adjustments may need to be made in the context of specific ADEs. 

When inserting photographs into the customisable booklet, ADEs should delete the text in each box and replace this with their own photograph.

Please refer to the appendix for a complete list of the required photographs.

Pointers for customisation

When preparing the photographs, the following pointers should be taken into consideration:

Content pointers

To maximise the progression and storyline of the booklet, the following should be considered:

  • The impact of the photographs will be maximised if one supported employee from your ADE is featured in all of the pictures requiring a supported employee.
  • Similarly, one supervisor and one audit team member should be featured in all the photographs calling for only one supervisor/audit team member. 
  • Overall, consistency is important.  The same supported employee/s, supervisor/s and audit team member/s should be featured throughout the booklet.

Composition pointers

The visual presentation and accessibility of the booklet will be maximised if:

  • Effort is be made to take photographs that are clear and simple, with the minimal amount of background or foreground distractions.
  • The subject of the photograph (e.g. a person, a building) takes up the majority of the space in the frame, with as little background and other features as possible.  This can be achieved through careful framing of the photograph and through cropping photographs once they have been taken.

Technical pointers

The following technical aspects should also be considered:

  • Photographs should be taken in high resolution with a digital camera and inserted into this electronic version of the booklet.  This can be done simply by using the “Insert/Picture” command in Microsoft Word. 
  • Photographs may need to be cropped prior to being inserted into the booklet in order to fit into the allocated space.
  • Attention should be paid to the shape of the box when framing and cropping photos.

Practical pointers

It is acknowledged that producing 28 customised photographs is a significant undertaking.  Below are suggestions for how the required photography could be conveniently achieved in practice:

  • ADEs may wish to take photographs of the actual auditing process and team one year and use these to customise the booklet for the following year.  This would maximise the realism of the photographs and booklet, as well as provide a situation where the required photographs could easily be taken while the events of the actual audit are taking place.
  • ADEs may wish to take the photographs during the ‘role playing’ and ‘mock interviews’ suggested as a possible activity for the preparation stage of the Quality Assurance process.  This would provide an appropriate context for taking many of the required photographs, as well as creating context and coherence between supported employees’ different preparations for the audit team’s visit.
  • If photographs are taken during the ‘role playing’ or ‘mock interviews’ or photography is undertaken as an activity in and of itself, care should be taken in regard to how the audit team is depicted.  ADEs may decide to ask a group of people to pose/act as the audit team.  However, those involved in this acting should not be ADE supervisors, so as to minimise confusion for supported employees using the booklet.  A request should be made to a person who is not a supervisor or a supported employee to do the required acting.

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Providing assistance to supported employees in using the Easy Read booklets 

As an ADE supervisor, you will be experienced in communicating with people with an intellectual disability by using communication practices such as talking clearly, dividing up complex ideas into smaller parts and using personalised explanations. 

This section aims to build on this knowledge you already have, and provide some aspects to consider that are specifically relevant to guiding a person with an intellectual disability through a set of information. 

The information in this section may also be provided to family, friends or carers who are interested in working through the material with your supported employees.

Aspects to consider when working through the Easy Read Quality Assurance booklets with supported employees

When assisting a supported employee with an intellectual disability to read the Easy Read Quality Assurance booklets, you might consider the following:

  • Allowing the supported employee to read through the booklet at their own pace, and raise any questions independently before volunteering assistance;
  • Linking the information in the booklet back to personal examples from the supported employee’s life (e.g. using the name of their particular workplace; the names of their manager or workmates/friends; talking about their own Employment Assistance Plan/job plan/goals or the activities that he or she does at work; relating each Disability Services Standard back to the particular things that he or she cares about);
  • Paying particular attention to identifying words or concepts that the supported employee may not understand and assisting to explain these;
  • Drawing the supported employee’s attention to how the photograph or graphic relates to the text;
  • Breaking up the information in the booklet into sections of a size that will promote the supported employee’s understanding and attention.  This may involve reading the booklet at more than one sitting;
  • Choosing whether to cover all the information in the booklet or only the information of most interest to the supported employee, based on the employee’s level of interest and concentration;
  • Using the booklet to generate discussion if this is a more effective way of communicating with the supported employee than standard reading;
  • Maintaining an informal atmosphere when reading or discussing the booklet;
  • Checking understanding and comprehension by asking the supported employee to summarise the information or explain a part of the booklet to you, rather than simply asking if he or she understands;
  • Asking the employee to imagine him or herself taking part in the Quality Assurance process and encouraging him or her to relate the information back to you in a manner that references themselves and their own participation;
  • Choosing a timely occasion to read the booklet, not too long before the Quality Assurance process will actually take place.

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Appendix: List of photographs required for the customisable booklet  

The customisable booklet requires up to 28 photographs specific to your own ADE.  While this is a large number, it is aimed at illustrating the detail of the Quality Assurance process.  In addition, some photographs will be able to be used more than once in the booklet.
NB: The term ‘workplace’ has been used in the photograph descriptions instead of ‘business’ or ‘ADE’, as the descriptions are written from the perspective of the supported employee.

The photographs required for the customisable booklet are:

  • [Logo 1] Your workplace or organisation’s logo.
  • [Photo 1] Photo of a supported employee smiling.
  • [Photo 2] Photo of the audit team standing outside the workplace’s building. 
  • [Photo 3] Photo of a supported employee shaking hands with an audit team member while the rest of the audit team stands by.
  • [Photo 4] Photo of the manager of the workplace holding the certificate and smiling.  If you do not have the certificate from a previous year to use in the photo, you can substitute another piece of paper that resembles a certificate.
  • [Photo 5] Photo of the audit team, with one member holding a clipboard and clearly showing that one member has some form of disability.
  • [Photo 6] Photo of a hand ticking something on a clipboard.
  • [Photo 7] Photo of a supported employee holding some money.
  • [Photo 8] Photo of a supported employee with their hand up as if to ask a question, and smiling.
  • [Photo 9] Photo of a supported employee smiling and holding a file in one hand and pointing at themself with the other hand to indicate “me”.
  • [Photo 10] Photo of a book or spiral bound report sitting on a table (no people in the picture).
  • [Photo 11] Photo of a supervisor talking to a supported employee.
  • [Photo 12] Photo of a supervisor standing in front of a group of supported employees sitting on chairs and pointing to a screen or whiteboard.
  • [Photo 13] Photo of an audit team member talking one on one across a table with a supported employee
  • [Photo 14]  Photo of an audit team member shaking hands with a supervisor.
  • [Photo 15] Photo of an audit team member reading.
  • [Photo 16] Photo of an audit team member with finger to chin in a thinking expression.
  • [Photo 17] Photo of the certificate (no people in the picture).
  • [Photo 18] Photo of an audit team member frowning.
  • [Photo 19] Photo of a supported employee talking. 
  • [Photo 20] Photo of a supported employee giving a team member a file.
  • [Photo 21] Photo of a supported employee with a pen and paper writing something.
  • [Photo 22] Photo of a supported employee frowning and looking cross.
  • [Photo 23] Photo of an audit team member sitting across the table from a supported employee.
  • [Photo 24] Photo of a supported employee talking on the phone.
  • [Photo 25] Photo of an audit team member standing in front of a group of supported employees.
  • [Photo 26] Photo of an audit team member and a supported employee standing next to a work area talking casually.
  • [Photo 27] Photo of a supported employee sitting with someone wearing casual clothes.  Together they are pointing at a piece of paper.
  • [Photo 28] Photo of an audit team member with their finger to their lips indicating silence.

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