The head of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguards Commission has threatened to come down hard on service providers who do not protect their clients, following data released on the assault and neglect of people with disability.
Newly appointed Commissioner Graeme Head plays a key role in overseeing the rollout of the NDIS is consistent, successful and nationally regulated. The Commission started operations on 1 July 2018, and was established to ‘focus on capacity building and development for both participants and providers, as well as hold compliance and enforcement powers’.
Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event last Friday, Mr Head says the new Commission wanted people to speak up about abuse, neglect and assault.
“For the development of confidence across the community for people to speak up and speak out around inadequate or unsafe service provision or abuse and neglect - a really well-functioning complaints management system is critical to that,” he says.
Mr Head says he is willing to issue “strong regulatory actions” to both registered and unregistered providers, such as banning orders, civil penalties and deregistration, as well as national screenings and mandatory reporting.
It comes as data from the Federal Department of Social Services released last week shows ‘six people with a disability are assaulted or neglected each week in Australia’. During the first half of 2018, the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline received 198 calls of neglect, abuse and sexual assault.²
Providers under the new system have been given certificates of registration and been informed of auditing that is required for re-registration, Mr Head explains. This includes providers that are privately managed and employ their own staff.
Incidents that must be reported to the new Commission include “death of a participant, serious injury, abuse or neglect and importantly also the unauthorised use of a restrictive practice in relation to a patient”.
Mr Head says “[The Commission] represents a significant step change in how we approach the delivery of quality services to people with disability...it represents a raising of the bar in terms of how we think about quality and safeguards in this sector.”
The Commission is only operating in New South Wales and South Australia, as the only two states that have fully rolled out the NDIS. The remaining states and territories will be under the new Commission by 2020.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission was announced in the 2017-18 Budget with an initial allocation of $209 million over four years, with Mr Head appointed to a three year term.
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