New guidelines released by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguards Commission will ensure the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services.
The new independent body will replace the current safeguard arrangements and aim to investigate and resolve problems, while strengthening the skills and knowledge of both NDIS providers and participants across Australia.
The Commission will not handle complaints relating to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) or NDIS plans, with these complaints to remain in the hands of the NDIA.
However, it will receive and resolve complaints about NDIS providers, serious incident reports, such as abuse, injury or death and potential breaches of the NDIS Code of Conduct.
The Commission will also help refer anyone with a complaint that it cannot handle, to the appropriate person thanks to its ‘no wrong door’ approach.
The Department of Social Services says the NDIS Commissions’ Quality and Safeguards Framework will “improve consistency in regulation and registration for providers in different states and territories, assuring participants that the same standards of quality and safety will be expected wherever they receive their services."
“The NDIS Commission brings together various quality and safeguards functions into a single body for the first time, and will have a suite of education and regulatory powers which will apply across Australia,” a departmental spokesperson says.
The Commission will be rolled out to align with each state and territory reaching NDIS full scheme, with the body to operate in New South Wales and South Australia from 1 July 2018.
All other states will roll out the Framework in 2019, except for Western Australia, in 2020.
Ross Joyce, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Federation of Disability Organisations says the Commission “will provide a key missing piece of the puzzle.”
“This will significantly enable a right-based approach to frame the conversation as the implementation of the NDIS continues,” he says.
“Alongside upholding the rights of people with disability and involving them in all aspects of decision-making is the need for high quality, independently regulated, rights-based and co-designed service providers.”
The National Quality and Safeguarding Framework also includes a National Code of Conduct for NDIS providers.
The code applies to all providers of NDIS supports, regardless of whether they are registered.
Under the Code of Conduct NDIS providers and workers must act with respect; respect the privacy of people with disability; act with integrity, honesty and transparency; promptly act on concerns that may impact the quality and safety of support services, prevent and respond to all forms of violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse of people with disability; and prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.
Breaches of the NDIS Code of Conduct can result in penalties.
With the Commission's’ headquarters located in western Sydney, an office is expected to be set up in NSW and SA by mid year.
Disability Services Consulting (DSC) will be hosting half day Quality and Safeguarding workshops in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Adelaide in July and early August to help providers understand the new guidelines.
“We really believe that Quality and Safeguarding is about a lot more than just policies so we will be diving into how to really embed the principles not just in policy but throughout the whole organisation's practice,” Manager of Online and Training, Evie Naufal says.
The Commission was officially opened by Minister of Social Services, Dan Tehan in Penrith yesterday.