Deakin University

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Barriers and enablers to safeguarding children and adults within a disability services context: insights from an Australian Delphi Study

journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-01, 00:00 authored by Goetz Ottmann, K R McVilly, Julie Anderson, J Chapman, I Karlyawasam, Alana RoyAlana Roy, N Satari, A Stefano
Research conducted in the 1990s revealed the tragic irony that exposure to the disability support system, and particularly to its institutional forms, was a major risk factor related to the neglect and abuse of children and adults with a disability. Subsequently, a range of policies have been introduced to minimize risk. However, recurring events of abuse and neglect in the disability services sector in high and middle income countries demonstrate that processes geared to safeguard children and adults with a disability from abuse and neglect remain insufficient. To establish the wider fabric of organizational factors that contribute to effective safeguarding practices within the Australian disability support sector, a modified online Delphi study was conducted, capturing the views of disability services staff and managers (n=249) regarding barriers and enablers to effective safeguarding. This study identified issues concerning organizational culture, management practice, workforce development, client capacity building and contextual factors. During Round Two of the Delphi, participants were asked to rate the categorized enabler statements according to importance on a 10-point Likert scale, to ascertain the degree of consensus. A total of 262 of the statements were regarded as important or very important. The Delphi result highlighted the considerable gap between the wider systemic and cultural processes that, in the eyes of disability services staff and management, contribute to good safeguarding practice and the safeguarding measures currently in place. The article calls for a holistic approach to safeguarding that addresses procedural issues and to the transformation of the wider systemic and cultural fabric of an organization.



Social policy & administration






488 - 510




London, Eng.







Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, John Wiley & Sons