What safeguarding arrangements has the NDIA created for the NDIS?

An NDIS National Quality and Safeguarding Framework (the Framework) has been developed and was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in mid-December 2016. The need for a nationally consistent framework has been widely accepted and targeted and public consultations took place as part of the development of the framework.

The primary purpose of the framework is to ensure that participants of the NDIS receive quality services and supports which include appropriate safeguards to ensure people with disability are protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The framework aims to maximise the opportunities for people with disability to make decisions about their supports while also enabling them to live free from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The framework also intends to promote innovation, continuous improvement and best practice in the provision of supports.

A nationally consistent framework endeavours to ensure that people interacting with the NDIS can expect consistent standards and safeguards wherever they live in Australia. Easy read information for participants can be accessed on the NDIS National Quality and Safeguarding Framework

What are the principles of the national framework?

The following principles underline the Framework[1]:

Human rights: Measures within the Framework are designed to uphold and respect the human rights of people with disability.

Choice and control: Developmental measures within the Framework are designed to empower and support people with disability to make informed decisions about providers and supports.

National consistency: The Framework is designed to ensure that people with disability have the same protection, regardless of where they live in Australia.

Proportionality: The regulatory requirements for workers and providers are tiered to ensure regulation is proportionate to the level of risk associated with the type of support offered and the needs of the participants supported.

Presumption of capacity: The Framework, like the NDIS, starts from the presumption that all people with disability have the capacity to make decisions and exercise choice and control.

Minimisation of red tape: The Framework streamlines requirements so the system is easier for people with disability to navigate and red tape is reduced for providers.

Efficiency and effectiveness: The Framework is designed to support the development of an efficient and effective NDIS market.

[1] Source - Summary of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework

What safeguarding arrangements will be in place during the NDIS transition?

State and territory governments currently have existing quality and/or safeguarding systems in place and these formal arrangements will remain in place across Australia throughout the transition period from mid-2016 to mid-2019.[1] The national framework will be phased in across jurisdictions post the transition period. Details of these phasing arrangements are not currently available and will be made known in due course.

[1] Source - Summary of NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework

What agreements are recommended between NDIS participants and providers?

Registered providers are required to work with a participant to establish a written service agreement, in the participant's preferred form of communication, about the expected outcomes and the nature, quality and price of supports to be provided, and any agreed terms and conditions. This service agreement is a legally binding contract and can act as a further safeguard for participants.

How do participants find registered service providers?

The NDIA maintain a section on their website with links to all registered service providers. This information is accessible to participants and others at Registered Service Providers

What are the key components of the national quality and safeguarding framework?

The national framework contains a number of requirements for service providers including[1]

Registration for service providers: registration requirements will be proportionate to both the risk inherent to the type of support being delivered, and the scale of the organisation.

A code of conduct for providers and workers: A code of conduct will be developed and apply to all providers and individual workers delivering NDIS-purchased supports. The code of conduct intends to guide individual and organisational behaviour and culture and empower NDIS participants with regard to their rights.

Orientation module: Completion of an orientation module will be compulsory for registered providers and sole traders and all employees of registered providers. The module will ensure suppliers understand the principles underpinning the NDIS; the risks of providing supports; risks related to abuse and neglect.

Complaints and serious incidents: Registered providers will be required to have internal complaints mechanisms that include capacity to undertake internal investigations; serious incident recording and reporting arrangements; and capacity for corrective action to prevent recurrence.

Worker screening: Nationally consistent worker screening arrangements will be developed and workers will be required to undertake risk-based worker screening.

Restrictive practices: States and territories will continue to be responsible for the authorisation of the use of restrictive practices in relation to NDIS participants by service providers. However, the national framework introduces a number of new elements including the following:

a national policy and standards on restrictive practices will be developed and implemented;

a national senior practitioner role will be established to provide leadership in positive behaviour support, and reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices for participants in the NDIS;

a competency framework will be developed and maintained to ensure practitioners responsible for the development of positive behaviour support plans have appropriate skills and knowledge;

providers supporting participants with a positive behaviour support plan that includes the use of restrictive practices will be required to report on the use of those practices. 

[1] Source - NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework Fact Sheet for Providers

Are there further requirements for service providers during the transition?

The NDIA have established NDIA Terms of Business for Registered Providers which providers are required to comply with when providing services to NDIS participants. The NDIA have created a Provider Toolkit which is recommended to service providers to guide them through the requirements of becoming a registered provider and includes a Guide to Suitability, the NDIA Terms of Business, and the relevant state and territory quality and safeguard working arrangements.[1] Service providers are expected to operate in accordance with legislative structures such as an Incorporated Association or Company Limited by Guarantee. Under the NDIA’s Module 4: Guide to Suitability a provider must:

  1. be registered, approved and compliant with the requirements for registration or approval as a specialist disability service, community care or Home and Community Care provider as determined by the jurisdiction in which the provider wants to deliver supports. This includes Quality Assurance/Management systems compliance
  2. submit evidence of this registration, approval and compliance issued by the jurisdiction, or authorised third party provider (as determined by each jurisdiction), for which you have applied to deliver supports. This evidence document must state the services that you are currently providing or are authorised to provide under the NDIS;
  3. act in good faith and in the interests of the participant;
  4. when delivering supports or conducting a business in relation to the delivery of supports, registered providers must comply with each of the following:
  1. the NDIS Act, the Rules, all relevant NDIS guidelines, and all policies issued by the NDIA (as in force from time to time;
  2. the registered provider’s own Code of Conduct, Code of Ethics or Service Charter; and
  3. any Commonwealth, State or Territory laws, and any other requirements, that are applicable to the registered provider, including, but not limited to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), the Australian Consumer Law, and any relevant quality and safeguard laws, including Quality Assurance and Safeguards Working Arrangements and the Guide to Suitability.

[1] Source - NDIA website sourced 21/04/2017

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