New website upgrades! What’s new

Quality and Safeguarding Updates

Get up to date on the latest quality and safeguarding news here.

By Jessica Quilty

Updated 15 Apr 202414 Sept 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of quality and safeguarding updates.

Inquiry into the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission

As you might know, the Joint Standing Committee’s held an inquiry into the operation of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, with particular reference to:

  •  The monitoring, investigation and enforcement powers available to the Commission, and how those powers are exercised in practice.
  • The effectiveness of the Commission in responding to concerns, complaints and reportable incidents – including allegations of abuse and neglect of NDIS participants.
  • The adequacy and effectiveness of the NDIS Code of Conduct and the NDIS Practice Standards.
  • The adequacy and effectiveness of provider registration and worker screening arrangements, including the level of transparency and public access to information regarding the decisions and actions taken by the Commission.
  • The effectiveness of communication and engagement between the Commission and state and territory authorities.
  • The human and financial resources available to the Commission, and whether these resources are adequate for the Commission to properly execute its functions.
  • Management of the transition period, including impacts on other commonwealth and state‑based oversight, safeguarding, and community engagement programs.
  • Any related matters.

Submissions are now being uploaded (there are 57 so far). For us Q&S geeks, they make for a really interesting read to understand the range of perspectives on how the Commission is performing and various experiences in dealing with the regulator. There are some really strong themes and we will do a more detailed analysis once they are finalised.

 

Independent review into circumstances relating to the death of Ann Marie Smith

The NDIS Commission has released the report from the Hon. Alan Robertson SC of his review into issues surrounding the death of Ms Ann-Marie Smith. The Terms of Reference required that Mr Robertson consider, amongst other things, the actions of the NDIS Commission in response to Ann Marie’s death, including its regulation of Ann Marie’s service provider Integrity Care (which has since been banned). Recommendations include:

  • Acting earlier to identify people who are vulnerable to harm or neglect (a joint responsibility of the NDIA and NDIS Commission).
  • No vulnerable NDIS participant should have a sole carer providing services in their home.
  • For each vulnerable NDIS participant, there should be a specific person with overall responsibility for that participant’s safety and wellbeing.
  • Consideration should be given to the Commission establishing its own equivalent to State and Territory based Community Visitor Schemes to provide for individual face-to-face contact with vulnerable NDIS participants.
  • The Commission should conduct occasional visits to assess the safety and wellbeing of selected individual NDIS participants, whether or not a complaint has been made or reportable incident notified. The Commission and the NDIA should have a freer and two way flow of information for this purpose so that the Commission can make informed decisions about who to visit.
  • Various amendments were proposed to definitions and scope relating to reportable incidents and complaints.
  • The Commission should know whether a person is an NDIS participant and the supports they receive from whom via information sharing with the NDIA (rather than relying solely on information provided by providers).
  • Improvements to the exchange of information between State and Territory emergency services, schemes for people with disability, the Commission and the NDIA.
  • The Commissioner should have statutory power to ban a person from working in the disability sector even where that person is no longer employed or engaged. See the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Strengthening Banning Orders) Bill 2020 currently before the Commonwealth Parliament.

This is just a brief summary, for the full report including transcripts of interviews that informed the review please refer to the Commission’s website.

NDIS Commission Corporate Plan 2020-21

The NDIS Commission has published its new Corporate Plan for the 2020-21 FY.

Key activities in the first year include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Commencing operation in Western Australia (WA) with national operation across Australia.
  • Managing the transition of providers supporting NDIS participants in residential aged care to the safeguarding arrangements under the Commission.
  • Continuing to develop the NDIS Commission to ensure it has the skills, systems and capabilities to deliver national functions.
  • Completing key actions in response to Professor Julian Trollor’s review titled A scoping review of causes and contributors to deaths of people with disability in Australia.
  • Maximising information management capabilities, including completing information sharing arrangements with states and territories and key Commonwealth entities.
  • Ensuring all regulated restrictive practices are documented in behaviour support plans by registered behaviour support practitioners.
  • Working with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the states and territories to finalise the national consistent NDIS worker screening.

Key activities for the coming four years also include:

  • Moving beyond transition to a mature full-scale operation for the NDIS Commission.
  • Development of data and analytics capability so that predictive analytics play an increasing role in shaping regulatory activity and ensure that the Commission’s reporting is shedding light on progress in addressing problems and matters that require attention.
  • Achieving national consistency in authorisation processes for the use of restrictive practices.
  • Supporting the work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and responding to any decisions of Government in relation to its recommendations.
  • Taking regulatory actions in response to priority issues (systemic and individual) that are proportionate.
  • Continuing to educate the widest possible audience about the rights of people with disability and the centrality of these rights to the Commission’s approach to safeguarding.

 You can also read the Commission’s Compliance and Enforcement Priorities for 2020-21 FY here.

Then and Now WA

The NDIS Commission has produced a ‘then and now ‘ factsheet for all states and territories and the WA version has now been released. There is also a separate factsheet for reportable incidents and complaints. State based registration through the Disability Services Provider Panel (DSPP) closes September 18. Unless there is a further extension, providers will be able to apply for registration directly with the NDIS Commission from December 1st.

 A reminder that Western Australia has released its Authorisation of Restrictive Practices Policy which details the restrictive practices that need to be authorised, including the requirement for consent and an Authorisation Panel.  A pre-implementation phase will run from 8 June 2020 – 30 November 2020 and is an opportunity to ask questions and prepare for the operational requirements to meet the policy from 1 December 2020.

Service providers are encouraged to consider how to meet the following three essential requirements of the Policy:

 

Incident resources

The Commission has published a Reference Card: ‘Incident response: Is everyone safe?’ that outlines immediate steps workers must take following an incident as well as an Identifying and responding to incidents: 6-step guide for workers poster. This poster contains information for workers about how to identify and respond to incidents that occur in their workplace.

The Commission has a number of other new resources and videos here on incident management.

Behaviour Support and Restrictive Practice Factsheet

This new fact sheet outlines requirements for providers who use restrictive practices and providers who write behaviour support plans. It also includes a flowchart for determining whether the use of a restrictive practice is a reportable incident.

 

New Practitioner Administration role

The new Behaviour Support Practitioner Administration role allows an admin staff member or other non-behaviour support practitioner staff member to lodge behaviour support plans on behalf of the specialist behaviour support practitioner. This fact sheet explains how to correctly use the Behaviour Support Practitioner Admin Role in the NDIS Commission Portal. The lodging a behaviour support plan user guide has also been updated accordingly.

 

New governance support tool

The Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) have developed a governance support tool for health services and community health services registered as NDIS Providers. We know this is an area a lot of services are grappling with so worth a look!

Crikey

News joint crikey.com.au have run a series of articles that raised serious issues with the NDIS Commission. A number questions were posed to the Commission and the Commission has publicly shared its responses on the website.

Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability

The Royal Commission held a public hearing in Sydney from Tuesday 18 to Friday 21 August 2020. The virtual hearing heard from 36 witnesses, including 12 people with disability. Advocates, disability representative organisations, academics, experts, service providers and Commonwealth representatives gave evidence. The hearing was closed to the public, but was live streamed on the Royal Commission website. Stories that have been shared include abrupt isolation and denial of social contacts, sudden interruptions to or loss of essential services, inability to access medications, health care or adequate supplies of food. The Commission also heard about increased violence against women with disability, increased use of restrictive practice and fears of being arrested.

The Chair said ‘we will not wait until the Final Report is complete to prepare a report about this hearing’. Read more here.

The Royal Commission will hold another public hearing in Sydney beginning Tuesday 22 September 2020 that will be closed to the public, but will also be live streamed on the Royal Commission website.

The hearing will examine the use of psychotropic medication to address behaviours of concern exhibited by people with disability.

 Among the issues that may be examined at the hearing are:

  • The extent of use of psychotropic medication to address behaviours of concern, and the effects that medication can have on the health and wellbeing of people with disability.
  • The regulatory frameworks for the use of psychotropic medication as a chemical restraint, a form of restrictive practice.
  • How the restrictive practices regulatory frameworks in Queensland operate in practice with respect to the use of psychotropic medication.
  • The intersection between health and disability services in addressing behaviours of concern exhibited by a person with disability.
  • Alternatives to psychotropic medication, particularly behaviour support.

To find out more visit https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/.

 

No Card No Start

The Queensland Government has introduced new laws to implement ‘No Card, No Start’ for the Blue Card system from 31 August 2020. This means all people working with children with disability now require a Blue Card before they can start child-related work.

People who have submitted a paid application before the new laws came into effect can continue working while their application is assessed. Yellow Card arrangements for working with adults with disability have not changed – workers can start paid work with adults with disability once they have applied for a Yellow Card.

For further information please see this Fact Sheet.  Read here for more information about the changes to the Blue Card system.

 

COVID-19

The NDIS Commission continues to put out communications and resources in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you are on the mailing list.

 

Catch you next month.

Authors

Jessica Quilty

Explore DSC

Subscribe to the newsletter you’ll actually want to read

Learn from the humans obsessed with Australia’s NDIS. 50,000 readers strong.

Explore DSC Learning