Incidents in supported residential services

Key messages

  • An incident is any event that threatens the safety or wellbeing of residents or staff at or about an SRS. An SRS must keep a record of all incidents.
  • SRS must also notify us of prescribed reportable incidents. These are:
    • unexpected death of a resident
    • serious injury of a resident
    • allegation of sexual or physical assault
    • fire or other emergency events.
  • Resources are available for SRS proprietors and staff on responding to sexual assault allegations and family violence and abusive behaviour.

Responding to allegations of sexual assault

Together with the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) and the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA), we have developed resources to support SRS staff in responding to allegations of sexual assault.

Defining sexual assault 

Sexual assault is any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened. It is sexual behaviour that someone has not agreed to, where another person uses physical or emotional force against them.

Sexual assault is never the fault or responsibility of the victim/survivor.

Examples of sexual assault include (but are not limited to):

  • unwanted touching
  • unwanted, offensive communication including comments or jokes
  • sexual harassment
  • pressuring someone for sex
  • indecent exposure and obscene gestures
  • being forced to watch sexual behaviour, including pornography
  • rape.

Disclosure

Disclosure means telling another person about an incident or experience of violence. This may be a recent incident, may have occurred in the past or be ongoing.

Responding to a disclosure of sexual assault

Support the resident

Individuals disclose sexual assault because they are seeking support. If a resident discloses a sexual assault to you, use these principles to support them: 

  • believe the resident
  • affirm that the resident has done nothing wrong – it is not their fault
  • be supportive, non-judgmental, open and honest
  • give accurate information about what will happen next.

Act quickly

  • Assess the situation and make sure the environment is safe for affected residents.
  • Phone CASA or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (after hours) on 1800 806 292.
  • Report the disclosure to Police by calling Triple Zero 000.
  • Advise the Police if the resident/s has difficulty communicating and organise an Independent Third Person (ITP) by calling 1300 309 337.
  • Inform the resident’s:
    • person nominated or guardian or both
    • case manager.
  • Ask the resident if they would like a visit from a Community Visitor. If they do, arrange one by calling 1300 309 337.
  • Liaise with the service system and the department to determine appropriate accommodation options for the victim/survivor and perpetrator.

Record the incident

An incident record should be filled out every time an event threatens a resident's or staff's safety, including disclosures of sexual assault.

Notify the department

Any allegation of sexual assault is a prescribed reportable incident. It must be reported to the department by the end of the next business day.

Resources and assistance

Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

The department can help you manage disclosure of sexual assault by:

  • assisting you in supporting residents
  • ensuring you understand and meet your legal responsibilities
  • supporting you to develop ways of preventing, identifying and responding to sexual assault. 

Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA)

The CASA in your local area will support residents who have disclosed a sexual assault, including:

  • helping the resident decide what they want to do
  • supporting the resident during a police report or forensic medical examination
  • referral to the CASA counselling service.

For more information, visit CASA.

Downloads

  • Incident management systems: SRS proprietor roles and responsibilities

    Incident records are important records that supported residential services (SRS) are required to keep by law.

    What is an incident?

    An incident is any event which threatens the safety of a resident or staff at, or in relation to an SRS.

    If an incident qualifies as a prescribed reportable incident, you must report it to the department (see below).

    When should you fill out an incident record?

    You are responsible for ensuring an incident record is filled out accurately and promptly after responding to and managing the incident at the SRS.

    You are required to record all incidents, however only PRIs are to be notified to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (the department).

    What information is required to be recorded?

    A record of an incident must have the following information:

    • a description of the incident including what occurred and the date and time it occurred
    • where it occurred
    • the names of the people involved
    • what action was taken
    • the date, time and name of any person notified of the incident
    • the name and signature of the person making the record.

    You can find an incident record template on the Forms and templates for SRS proprietors. This template meets legislative requirements, although it is not mandatory to use this form.

    Who needs to be notified of an incident?

    You must notify the resident’s person nominated, guardian and/or financial administration about any:

    • significant sign of deterioration in the health status of the resident
    • injury to the resident and
    • risk taking behaviour by the resident which threatens the safety of the resident or other residents or staff.

    Some incidents may require you to contact health service providers, mental health service providers, CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault), WorkSafe Victoria or the police.

    You must also inform the department if a prescribed reportable incident occurs at your SRS.

    What is a prescribed reportable incident?

    There are four types of prescribed reportable incidents (PRIs):

    • an unexpected death of a resident
    • a serious injury of a resident
    • a fire or other emergency event and
    • an alleged serious assault (sexual or physical).

    You are required to notify the department of a PRI by the end of the next business day. You can do this by phone or email. You may also need to report incidents to other organisations, including the police, coroner or WorkSafe Victoria.

    You can find a template for recording PRIs on Forms and templates for SRS proprietors. This also includes a guide for defining PRIs.

    If you are unsure, fill out an incident record then contact an authorised officer to discuss whether the incident is a PRI.

    How should I store SRS incident records?

    You are required to keep incident records at the SRS. The record must be kept in a secure location that is readily accessible by authorised officers and community visitors at any time.

    You are required to complete incident records in English and keep them at the SRS for a period of seven (7) years.

    SRS are required to keep all incidents in a:

    • bound book with consecutively numbered pages, or
    • loose-leaf system in which each incident and each page of a report of the incident is consecutively numbered; or
    • database on a computer maintained at the SRS in which each incident is assigned a unique number.

    How can incident data be used?

    You can use incident data to identify trends and patterns and inform system improvements at your SRS.

    The department can use PRI data to assist with sector improvement, training and resource development.

  • Family violence and abusive behaviour

    Family violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour where a family member or someone ‘like’ a family member seeks to control and dominate another person.

    The law defines family violence as ‘behaviour that is physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically or economically abusive; threatening or coercive; or in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes them to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.

    Family violence and abusive behaviours in SRS

    Violence and abusive behaviours can occur in shared living environments, including in SRS.

    In an SRS, family violence or abuse can happen between:

    • residents who are in a relationship
    • a resident and a friend (who may be another resident)
    • a resident and a family member
    • a resident and someone else who lives outside the SRS.

    Some examples of family violence and abusive behaviours include:

    • stopping a resident from seeing their friends or family
    • controlling a resident’s access to money
    • damaging property
    • verbally threatening or physically abusing a resident
    • stopping a resident from practising their religious beliefs or cultural practices.

    Signs

    Residents may be at greater risk of abuse and violence because of a physical and/or intellectual disability. Staff should be aware of signs that a resident may be experiencing abuse or violence, including if a resident:

    • seems nervous, ashamed or evasive
    • can’t access their money
    • describes their partner/friend/family member as controlling or prone to anger
    • seems uncomfortable or anxious around their partner/friend/family member.

    Identifying and responding to family violence and abusive behaviours

    • Assess the situation and make the environment safe for the affected resident or residents.
    • Support the affected resident or residents by discussing their options with them and asking them how they would like to be supported.
    • Seek consent from the resident(s) to:
      • inform their case manager
      • inform the resident’s person nominated /guardian as soon as possible.
    • Complete an incident record.
    • Notify us if it is prescribed reportable incident by the end of the next business day.

    In an emergency call 000 for police assistance or if emergency medical assistance is required. Police should also be called if a crime has occurred or is suspected of having occurred.

    Advise police if the resident or residents have difficulty communicating and organise an Independent Third Person (ITP) by calling 1300 309 337.

    Resources and assistance

    You can find details of a wide range of family violence support services on the