Quality Assurance and auditing of Australian Disability Enterprises – Supported employees booklet - Standard read


This booklet explains Quality Assurance and the auditing of Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs). The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) is responsible for overseeing Quality Assurance in 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. The audit is therefore concerned with assessing the ADE, rather than supported employees themselves.

This booklet is for people with a disability who are employed in an ADE. It aims to assist supported employees to understand the auditing process, the role of the audit team and the role that supported employees can play in providing input into the audit.

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, including the Disability Services Standards, can be found at:

  1. /sa/disability/pubs/employers/Documents/quality_strategy_toolkit/section1/default.htm

The Quality Assurance and auditing process 

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

  1. Preparation
    1. Internal audit
    2. Background information and concepts
  2. Assessment by an audit team
  3. Certification or period of improvement

1. Preparation

The preparation stage may involve your workplace conducting an internal audit, and involves your workplace providing you and other supported employees with background information on the Quality Assurance and auditing process, and the opportunity to learn about the central concepts and processes involved in the audit team’s visit.

a. Internal audit

In some ADEs, the auditing process may begin with supervisors conducting an internal audit.  This involves your workplace assessing its own supervisors; examining past records to judge their own performance against the Disability Services Standards; and self-assessing business, organisational and financial practices.  An internal audit may not be a part of the auditing process in every ADE.

As part of the internal audit, supervisors may also request supported employees’ input.  This allows you to contribute, through verbal, written or informal methods, depending on what your workplace offers.

At the end of the internal audit, your supervisors may write a report about how they perceive the quality of the workplace.  They will need to provide this and any other information on their usual policies and procedures to the external audit team. The audit team will use this self-assessment to inform their assessment procedures.

b. Background information and concepts

The other important aspect in the preparation stage is that your workplace provides you with background information about the Quality Assurance process and the opportunity to learn about the central concepts involved in the audit team’s visit.  This is intended to ensure that you know what to expect during the audit, feel comfortable with what is happening and feel confident with information about you and your employment being used in the Quality Assurance and auditing process.

To give you the necessary background information, supervisors should:

  • Inform you of when the internal and external audits will be conducted;
  • Explain what will happen when the audit team comes;
  • Give you examples of the types of questions the audit team will ask; and
  • Give you a chance to practice answering interview questions in a mock interview or role play, if you wish to.

Supervisors at your workplace should also explain the key ideas, concepts and terms used in the audit.  Importantly, this includes the concepts of ‘informed consent’ and ‘evidence’, as well as ‘confidentiality’ and ‘privacy’.  It is important that information is provided on these concepts so that when the audit team requests to see information about you and your Employment Assistance Plan, you know why they are asking for this and you have confidence in the consent, privacy and confidentiality measures that are put in place regarding the use of your information.  Overall, explanation of these key concepts is to ensure that you have confidence in the Quality Assurance process and understand the implications of participating in it.

2. Assessment by the audit team

After the preparation stage has been completed, the next stage of the Quality Assurance process is an assessment by the audit team.  This will involve an audit team visiting your workplace and may be for one or a few days, depending on your workplace’s size.  An audit must be completed every year. Once every three years there will be a certification audit, and during the intervening two years there will be surveillance audits to check that workplaces continue to comply with the necessary requirements.  Surveillance audits are a smaller scale version of the certification audit.

The audit team

The audit team is from an independent accreditation body, meaning that no member of the audit team is associated or linked to your workplace.  This is to ensure that the audit team can make a fair and impartial judgement of your workplace.

The team is made up of:

  • The lead auditor;
  • Other auditors (number dependent on the size of your workplace); and
  • The consumer technical expert (a person with a disability who will assist the audit team to understand experiences of disability).

All audit team members have training in Quality Assurance for ADEs.

The auditing process

During their assessment, the audit team requires input from both supported employees and supervisors from your workplace.  This will involve both first-hand input and analysis of documents provided by each.

The audit team will have the following interactions with supported employees:

  • Receiving first-hand input from a sample of the workplace’s supported employees, through verbal or written methods; and
  • Analysing supported employees’ files and records.

Please see the sections below for further information on supported employees’ involvement in the Quality Assurance process.

The audit team will have the following interactions with supervisors:

  • Reading the report from the internal audit, if this has been conducted;
  • Analysing other information on the workplace’s usual policies and procedures; and
  • Meeting with supervisors to discuss Quality Assurance in the workplace.

Assessment method

Throughout their interactions with both supported employees and supervisors, the audit team is required to assess the workplace against Quality Assurance criteria.  The criteria are defined by each of the Disability Services Standards and associated key performance indicators (KPIs).

The audit team rates your workplace 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.

Your involvement

The audit team does not need to speak to every supported employee during the audit.  They will choose a sample of employees who have different disabilities, cultural backgrounds, living situations and work practices. 

If you do contribute to the audit, then there will be two main ways for you to do so:

  • You can provide first-hand input into the audit, through one of the following methods (some or all of these methods may be available):
    • A face-to-face interview with an audit team member;
    • A telephone interview with an audit team member;
    • A focus group with other supported employees;
    • A questionnaire and/or feedback form;
    • An informal chat with an audit team member about what you think of your workplace.
  • You can allow the audit team to see your file with information about you and your Employment Assistance Plan.  Please see the section below for information on privacy and use of your information.

Consent, privacy and use of your information

Participation in the Quality Assurance process is voluntary and you are not required to participate if you do not wish to.  The audit team will require you to formally consent to participate; this will involve signing a consent form.

All information collected from you – whether via first-hand input or from your file – will be protected by privacy and confidentiality measures.  While your workplace will know which group of employees has participated, the audit team will not identify which information has been collected specifically from you.  All information will be reported together in a way that does not identify individuals, and no names will be included.

If you consent and the audit team does collect information about you from your file, this will be treated sensitively, and will be used only to assess whether your workplace has sufficiently met each Disability Services Standard and KPIs in your specific case.  All reporting of this will be confidential.

Topics covered by interviews, focus groups or questionnaires

If you contribute first-hand into the Quality Assurance process through any of the written or verbal methods outlined above, the questions asked will be on the following types of topics:

  • How satisfied or unsatisfied you are with your workplace, and why;
  • Whether your workplace has helped you make an effective Employment Assistance Plan that can change as your goals and needs change;
  • Whether you receive the assistance you want and need at work;
  • Whether you have the opportunity to make choices within your working life;
  • Whether you have complaints about your workplace, and whether you know the processes for making a complaint; and
  • What you would change or improve about your workplace.


If you need someone to assist you in contributing to the audit team’s assessment, this is permitted.  It is important that you choose someone who knows you well, but who is not connected to the management of your workplace. 

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 workplace is meeting the Disability Services Standards and should be certified.

The audit team’s report

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


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

If a certification audit has been conducted and the audit team decides that your workplace 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 workplace 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 workplace 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 workplace 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 workplace could lose its certification, and its future FaHCSIA funding will be at risk. 

For supported employees, this means that there is a system in place on a yearly basis to ensure that improvements are made to working environments and systems.  Because a workplace cannot be certified unless it has made all of the necessary improvements, this aims to ensure the best and most appropriate workplace possible for each supported employee, with a process in place for continual improvement.


All supported employees have a right to make a complaint either about the conduct of the audit team or about their workplace.  The contacts below are a starting point for making complaints.

Complaints about the audit team

If you wish to make a complaint about the audit team, you should speak to someone at your workplace and this person will try to resolve the issue.

Complaints about your workplace

If you wish to make a complaint about your workplace to someone other than the audit team, you could contact:

Complaints Resolution and Referral Service
Phone: 1800 880 052


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