A new screening approach to be introduced this year will ensure safe and quality support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants.
The NDIS Worker Screening Database, introduced into Federal Parliament yesterday (13 February) will offer a nationally consistent approach to screening people who work alongside NDIS participants.
The new NDIS Worker Screening is expected to start in July 2019 in all States and Territories except Western Australia.
Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher says the screening process and database will ensure people with disability are kept safe and receive the support of quality workers.
“Worker screening is a way to check that people who are working, or seek to work, in the NDIS do not pose an unacceptable risk of harm to people with disability.”
“The Bill will enable the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to establish and maintain a national database for information about NDIS worker screening.
“This will provide timely and accurate worker clearance status information for providers for NDIS services and supports, and for self-managed participants.”
It will also ensure workers who have been deemed unfit to work with NDIS participants by one State or Territory will consequently be excluded nationally.
Mr Fletcher says it will prevent individuals who pose a high risk of harm from seeking work in the disability sector.
“Participants and their families can have confidence that workers with clearances have been assessed as not posing an unacceptable risk of harm to people with disability.”
Disability peak body National Disability Services (NDS) welcomes the nationally recognised approach to worker screening, describing it as an important element underpinning the delivery of high-quality and safe supports for people with disability.
Acting NDS Chief Executive Officer David Moody says providers operating in more than one state or territory will benefit from having a national approach.
“We believe staff screening should be compulsory for employees of all disability service providers, the NDIA and the Commission who have more than incidental contact with an NDIS participant, as well as the key decision-makers in those entities,” he says.
“We also agree that worker screening should apply to LAC [Local Area Coordinator] and ECEI [Early Childhood Early Intervention] partners, ILC [Information, Linkages and Capacity building] services and organisations that deliver the CoS [Continuity of Support] Programme,” he adds.
NDS also raised concerns that screening is not a requirement to work with an unregistered provider or to be employed directly by an NDIS participant.
“This remains a significant weakness of the Quality and Safeguards Framework as it provides a loophole for people who are not fit to work with people with disability,” Mr Moody says.
The organisation is also helping keep people with disability safe through their “Zero Tolerance” initiative in partnership with the Australian disability sector.
“We know that people with disability are 1.5 times more likely to experience abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation than people without a disability,” Mr Moody explains.
“This is our national approach to promoting human rights and preventing and responding to abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation experienced by people with disability.”
The NDIS Worker Screening Database will cost $13.6 million over four years to establish and maintain across Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.