NDIS National Quality and Safeguards Commission to
Regulate Service Providers in NSW & SA from 2018
A Bill to establish the national NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has been tabled in Parliament.
Over time, the Commission will replace the quality and safeguarding systems currently operated by state and territory governments. It will commence early next year and begin regulating providers in NSW and SA from July 2018.
The 2017 Federal Budget provided $209 million for the first years of the Commission's operation.
The Commission will have the following functions:
- To receive, investigate, conciliate and resolve complaints, manage incident reports and oversee the Code of Conduct;
- To register NDIS providers, which includes: Overseeing providers’ compliance with the NDIS Practice Standards; establishing policy settings for nationally-consistent worker screening; and monitoring, reviewing and reporting on the effectiveness of the NDIS market;
- To establish a national NDIS senior practitioner to: Oversee approved behaviour-support practitioners and providers; give advice; receive, review and report on the use of restrictive practices; and follow up on serious incidents.
Worker screening and the authorisation of the use of restrictive practices will remain the responsibility of state and territory governments.
As expected, registration requirements will include a risk-based proportionate assessment of providers' ability to deliver categories of supports. Providers will need to be audited by an independent party against the NDIS Practice Standards (still under development). The Commission can determine the timing of quality audits and grant financial assistance where the cost would be a barrier to entry and in regional or remote areas.
NDIS rules will be developed for particular classes of supports which have stricter registration requirements than others. A Rule will also prescribe the NDIS Code of Conduct.
The Commission will have extensive powers to manage the performance of providers: Suspend or revoke registration; monitor and investigate; impose civil penalties and issue infringement notices; and prohibit or restrict specified activities.
The NDIS Provider Register will include substantial information about registered providers, including:
- The classes of support they provide;
- Whether the provider has been subject to an enforcement action or sanction;
- Any investigation that results in a compliance activity (e.g. education);
- Suspensions or banning orders in effect.
The Commission's jurisdiction will extend to the Continuity of Support Programme for people who are 65 years and over.
The Bill's definition of key personnel of an entity includes people who have executive, management and operational authority or responsibilities and members of the entity’s governing body. The significance of this is evident in the Commission’s power to suspend registration where it "is no longer satisfied that the key personnel … are suitable to be involved in the provision of supports or services to people with disability." Organisations will need to ensure all key personnel are 'fit and proper' persons.
The Bill was not released as an exposure draft, but the Senate does have the power to refer it to a Committee for inquiry.
One concern is the disparate approaches to quality and safeguarding according to who manages an NDIS participant's funding. Participants who self-manage their package will be able to purchase supports from unregistered providers. Unregistered providers will not be required to meet quality auditing requirements or to report serious incidents to the Commission. Given that the NDIA is promoting self-management, this could expose an increasing number of NDIS participants to unacceptable risks.
Second Reading Link:
LISA Inc. Comment:
We trust the Commission will, (a) have the teeth to ensure service implementation / delivery consistently equals service intent, (b) not require the consumer (person with disabilities and their stakeholder/s to prove beyond reasonable doubt, sufficient to stand up in the supreme court, their cause for concern and, (c) fully replace useless state based reulators.