Recognise and respond to suspected abuse of vulnerable people

This unit describes the knowledge and skills required by the worker to identify signs of possible abuse, take appropriate action according to role and responsibilities and minimise the risk of abuse to vulnerable people


This unit may be applied in a range of community services contexts

The work requires a range of well developed skills where some discretion and judgement is required and individual workers take responsibility for their own outputs


Not Applicable

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Support improved awareness of the nature of abuse

1.1 Identify the types of abuse that might occur in relation to the setting and the range of needs of the client

1.2 Identify indicators and behaviours of clients that might raise suspicion of possible abuse

1.3 Identify the range of relevant people who may need to be aware of the suspected abuse

1.4 Identify appropriate strategies to manage or report abusive behaviour without harm to the person and relevant others

1.5 Identify organisation policy and guidelines relevant to the setting to manage a response to suspected abuse

1.6 Identify government policy and guidelines relevant to the setting to address abuse

2. Identify suspected abuse

2.1 Establish and maintain a supportive relationship with the person, identifying signs and possible reasons for suspected abuse

2.2 Work in a sensitive manner with the person and relevant others using awareness raising methods to determine the level of understanding of suspected abuse

2.3 Work with the person and relevant others in a way that empowers them to seek clarification of relevant procedures, information and advice

2.4 Comply with all relevant government policy, legal and organisation requirements including reporting

2.5 Clearly record concerns and actions taken relating to the care and support of the person and the suspected abuse, according to organisation requirements

3. Implement systems and procedures to respond to suspected or alleged abuse

3.1 Demonstrate understanding of organisation's systems and procedures for managing suspected abuse and disclosure of abuse, in a range of settings

3.2 Identify and report any problems with systems and procedures established to manage suspected abuse

3.3 Participate in the establishment of systems and procedures to identify, record and manage suspected and disclosed abuse

3.4 Work with relevant people to ensure awareness of their responsibilities to act on suspicion and disclosure of abuse, including use of appropriate systems and procedures

3.5 Monitor to ensure records of suspected and disclosed abuse are compiled and maintained correctly, including review of the person's care plan

4. Act to support person experiencing suspected abuse

4.1 Review all available relevant information

4.2 Explore person's understanding of the situation and interpretation of what has happened or is happening to them

4.3 Assess the actual and potential effects of suspected abuse on the person

4.4 Work with the person and relevant others to determine whether a course of action is required and if the person agrees to this

4.5 Obtain informed consent, if appropriate, from the person or their legal representative, for any action to be taken on their behalf

4.6 Follow strategies, where appropriate, that have been developed to manage the perpetrator

4.7 Identify any legal requirement for reporting and/or other action

4.8 Ensure action is monitored and reviewed in accordance with organisation policy and procedures

5. Complete reporting documentation

5.1 Comply with the organisation's and legal reporting requirements

5.2 Complete, file and maintain documentation according to organisation policy and protocols

Required Skills

This describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level required for this unit.

Essential knowledge:

The candidate must be able to demonstrate essential knowledge required to effectively do the task outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit, manage the task and manage contingencies in the context of the identified work role

These include knowledge of:

Understanding of own work role and responsibilities

Understanding of the values, rights and ethics concerning consent and confidentiality and tensions which may arise between an individual's rights and the organisation's responsibility to the individual

The rights of people to make decisions for themselves and take risks in the context of their own lives

Legal reporting requirements associated with suspected or alleged abuse

When and how to obtain informed consent from vulnerable people and how to confirm that sufficient information has been provided on which to base this judgement

How to recognise when a person is unable to exercise their rights to make informed choice and strategies to deal with suspected abuse situations

How to deal with issues of confidentiality and who has the right to access information

Key legislation and government policy relating to abuse

How to obtain information to assist in working with people in abusive situations and authoritative resources and sources of guidance

Types of abuse and how to identify them

The nature of people who may be more vulnerable to abuse

Statistics and characteristics of abuse

Key issues and debates relating to abuse

Indicators of abuse

Different interpretations of abuse and the importance of recognising different value systems in relation to abuse

Actions to take if abuse is suspected

How to conduct an investigation into possible abuse

Systems and procedures for monitoring and identifying abuse

Evaluation of abuse safeguards

Methods to raise awareness of abuse

The social model of disability

The impact of social devaluation on an individual's quality of life

Competency and image enhancement as a means of addressing devaluation

The application of 'human rights', particularly in relation to older people

Essential skills:

It is critical that the candidate demonstrate the ability to:

Follow organisation policies and protocols

Access supervision, advice, support and debriefing

Manage the tension between the rights of the person and responsibility to the individual

Develop systems and procedures to identify and manage abuse

Identify key indicators of abuse

Implement support strategies for suspected and alleged abuse

Apply understanding of government policies in relation to abuse

In addition, the candidate must be able to effectively do the task outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit, manage the task and manage contingencies in the context of the identified work role

These include the ability to:

Use communication strategies to:

develop a trusting relationships

provide appropriate information

engage all relevant people

work cooperatively with a range of stakeholder organisations

work within legal requirements and scope of own work role

Evidence Required

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the Performance Criteria, Required Skills and Knowledge, the Range Statement and the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package.

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate this unit of competency:

The individual being assessed must provide evidence of specified essential knowledge as well as skills

This unit will be most appropriately assessed in the workplace or in a simulated workplace and under the normal range of workplace conditions

It is recommended that assessment or information for assessment will be conducted or gathered over a period of time and cover the normal range of workplace situations and settings

Where, for reasons of safety, space, or access to equipment and resources, assessment takes place away from the workplace, the assessment environment should represent workplace conditions as closely as possible

Access and equity considerations:

All workers in community services should be aware of access, equity and human rights issues in relation to their own area of work

All workers should develop their ability to work in a culturally diverse environment

In recognition of particular issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, workers should be aware of cultural, historical and current issues impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Assessors and trainers must take into account relevant access and equity issues, in particular relating to factors impacting on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clients and communities

Context of and specific resources for assessment:

This unit can be assessed independently, however holistic assessment practice with other community services units of competency is encouraged

Resources required for assessment include access to:

appropriate workplace where assessment can take place

relevant organisation policy, protocols and procedures

relevant government policies and guidelines

Method of assessment may include:

Observation in the workplace

Written assignments/projects

Case study and scenario analysis


Role play simulation

Interactive discussion

Demonstration of critical thinking

Range Statement

The Range Statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Add any essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts.

Abuse may include:

Financial and material





Social isolation

Misuse of power toward vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities

Relevant people may include:

Workers from within own organisation/service

Workers from other organisations/services

Spouse or partner

Other family members

Friends, neighbours and social contacts


Other people in the setting

Organisations such as:


Health consumer and/or complaints organisations

Relevant government departments

Health services such as general practice, hospital, allied health

Setting may include:


After school care

Own home

Social groups

Group home

Residential aged care

Respite care

Recreational activities

Community environments

Health services

Signs of possible abuse may include:

Change in behaviour of person, carer and/or family members

Failing to thrive

Social withdrawal

Observable evidence

Verbal and written complaints

Aggression, discomfort, fear

Awareness raising methods may include:


Events and meetings

Leaflets, video, audio messages

Publicity campaigns

Training courses


Work practices

Local public discussions and forums

Information and advice on abuse may include:

Government policies


Organisation policy

Research findings

Specialist service advice, such as legal, guardianship, cultural and linguistic diversity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Support may include:


Maintain status quo


Removal of possible abuser

Removal of the person

Action appropriate reporting requirements

Problems with systems and procedures may include:

Absence of systems and procedures

Failure to implement systems and procedures

Inadequate guidance and training

Lack of equipment and resources

Misunderstanding of the systems and procedures

Time constraints

Systems and procedures not maintained or updated


Not Applicable

Employability Skills

This unit contains Employability Skills

Licensing Information

Not Applicable