Concerns NDIS Quality and Safety Framework Forgets Majority of People With Disability
7 February 2017 at 8:47 am
Disability advocates welcomed the release of the long-awaited NDIS quality and safety framework, but expressed concern about the significant number of people outside the scheme who won’t be protected.
The COAG Disability Reform Council, led by Social Services Minister Christian Porter, said the framework would be nationally consistent and would establish the responsibilities of National Disability Insurance Scheme providers.
“Worker screening and reducing restrictive practices are key components of the new framework, and responsibility for this will be shared between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments,” the council said in a statement.
“The Commonwealth will establish a national complaint and serious incidents system and an NDIS code of conduct for providers and their staff.
“The Commonwealth will also establish a national registrar responsible for registering providers and overseeing their compliance with registration requirements, including compliance with the national standards for disability services and mental health services.”
For NDIS participants, the council said the framework would provide access to information and support in dealing with providers and avenues for resolving issues quickly.
“Providers will be expected to deliver person-centred, quality services, as well as develop and maintain a trusted, competent and skilled workforce that reflects the values and principles of the NDIS,” the council said.
People with Disability Australia welcomed the release of the framework, in particular the registrar who will monitor overall performance of providers and introduce a risk-based worker screening tool, the commissioner who will respond to complaints and serious incidents and have powers to conduct own motion investigations of providers, and the senior practitioner who will progress national work to eliminate restrictive practices.
However, the organisation said it was concerned that the quality and safeguarding mechanisms appear to apply only to NDIS participants and providers “leaving a significant gap for those people with disability who are not NDIS participants but who experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation”.
PWDA advocacy project manager for violence prevention Dr Jess Cadwallader said the majority of people with disability were left out of the framework.
“Despite the fact there’s been some fairly big conversations about violence against people with disability across Australia over the past few years, this is focused on the NDIS,” Cadwallader told Pro Bono News.
“The NDIS probably at full capacity will include about 10 per cent of people with disability, so we have some concerns about people who fall outside of services that are funded by the NDIS where the safety and quality in their service provision is going to come from.
“What we’ve been calling for for a while now is… a statute body that has a responsibility for investigating any and all occurrences of violence against people with disability.
“Some of the structures that are built into the framework are really great, but because they’re only limited to NDIS services, and in fact rely quite heavily on the structures of the NDIS to, for example, sanction providers that are doing the wrong thing, we have concerns that there’s not adequate protection for people with disability as a whole group.”
She said PWDA was also concerned about people on the scheme who were self-managed.
“There may be situations where the registrar and the complaints commissioner have quite limited powers to respond to issues, including violence, that may arise in a situation where someone is self-managing,” she said.
“I understand there are some protections built in to who gets to self-manage, under what circumstances, but there is just a bit of ongoing concern that there may not be adequate sanctions for those who are using unregistered service providers.”
However, Cadwallader said putting “human rights front and centre” within the framework was a step in the right direction.
“That’s a very positive thing given that the NDIS is such a central part of Australia’s fulfillment of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disability,” she said.
The states and territories will continue with their current, individual safeguarding practices until the framework is implemented.
The COAG Disability Reform Council said it would continue their consultation with key stakeholders, including people with disability, carers, providers, peak bodies as the framework is developed.
PWDA said it would seek feedback from members and supporters to respond to the government consultation processes throughout 2017.