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The Residential Care Sector Occupational Health and Safety Capability Program

Residential out-of-home care

Residential care services in community-based houses are provided to children and young people in out-of-home care. Children and young people who live in residential care are often those who have experienced the greatest level of trauma and who, therefore, require the most expert therapeutic care and support. Placement in residential care is based on assessment of each individual’s needs. This includes consideration of alternative placement in home-based care, and in particular kinship care, wherever possible.


The Residential Care Sector Occupational Health and Safety Capability (RCSOC) Program is a two-year project led by the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and co-funded by WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) to engage in a sector-wide program of organisational change to address Occupational Violence and Aggression (OVA) experienced by residential care workers.  


Residential care in Victoria is largely delivered by not-for-profit CSOs and ACCOs on behalf of the Victorian Government.  

Workers in the residential care sector are vulnerable to OVA. The average age range for residential care workers is 25-44 years old, with a high proportion of female and casual workers. In March 2020, the four largest CSOs providers of residential care reported approximately 7,200 client-on-worker OVA incidents over the previous 12 months. By contrast, in 2019 the Health Services Union (HSU) reported 6,800 OVA incidents (ABC report, 2019) each year within health services.   

Worker compensation claims in the residential care sector have increased by 24 per cent in the last year compared, to 4 per cent across the social services sector. The residential care sector accounts for 9 per cent of all mental injury claims in the social services sector over the last five years, with an increase of 47 per cent in the last year. 18 per cent of all workers compensation claims have a possible OVA component compared to 5 per cent of claims in the social services sector.  

The RCSOC Program is based on analysis of the level of OVA levels against residential care workers across Victoria.  This analysis showed that residential care workers have a higher level of risk and related mental injury.   


The RCSOC program aims to improve the health and safety outcomes of residential care workers by building leadership capability and understanding strategies to prevent Occupational Violence and Aggression (OVA) across all levels of the system, including changing cultural attitudes towards OVA.   

  This will be achieved through the:  

  • Co-design of a Safety Leadership Framework with an academic expert and the residential care sector. 
  • Design, pilot and roll out a Safety Leadership Program to build capability to provide a psychologically safe workplace across the levels of the residential care sector and change cultural attitudes towards zero tolerance of OVA. The program will include tailored modules for CEOs, ELT and Boards; for management, supervisors and Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs); and for frontline workers. 
  • Develop an OVA Prevention Program for all frontline workers. 


The program will improve the health and safety outcomes of residential care sector by: 

  • Building leadership capability 
  • Understanding strategies to prevent OVA across each level of the residential care system 
  • Changing cultural attitudes towards OVA. 

High Level Program Milestones

Program Launch

RCSOC was officially launched on February 24, 2021. Watch the event recording below.

Promoting Safety in Residential Care Pilot Training Program


Paulleen Markwort

Director Strategic Innovation
T: 0437 265 295


This project is supported by:

Learn more about Occupation Violence and Aggression in Residential Care services. 


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