Safeguards and Quality
Safeguards and quality in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The NDIS trial started in the ACT on 1 July 2014. The NDIS means changes to the way specialist disability services are funded.
Pending further development of and transition to a nationally consistent quality and safeguards approach under the NDIS, existing jurisdictional safeguards will be maintained (for example, the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011 requires people working or volunteering with vulnerable people to be registered with the Office of Regulatory Services. People working in disability services need to be registered).
To achieve this, the Disability Services Act 1991 was recently amended to enable the ACT to maintain existing safeguards and quality standards for disability services during the trial.
This means the safeguards and quality assurance frameworks that currently exist to protect people in the ACT will continue, but will be enforceable under law rather than just as conditions of contracts
What is a safeguard?
Safeguards are specific measures that aim to reduce the risk of harm to a person with a disability, and protect their right to be safe.
What are quality frameworks?
Quality frameworks provide overarching systems and processes to ensure providers have good systems and policies that guide and maintain the quality of disability service provision. Quality frameworks and standards also provide a means of guiding the expectations of participants.
What does this mean for me?
The standard of specialist disability services that you are used to receiving will continue during the trial of the NDIS. This means:
- The staff that work with you will be appropriately skilled and have appropriate background checks.
- Specialist disability services will have to deliver services consistent with quality standards and they must have processes to receive your feedback and complaints, and to act on them.
- If something goes wrong that could prevent your provider from continuing to deliver services, the service provider has to report it to the Human Services Registrar. This includes any time that a person with a disability is put at serious risk.
In a time of great change, and the development of a ‘free market’ approach to the delivery of disability services, you can continue to rely on your services still being subjected to oversight, and you can be assured that there are mechanisms to ensure that specialist disability service providers do the right thing by the people they serve.
The Human Services Registrar
Seeking to register with the NDIS
Providers seeking to register with the NDIS to deliver disability services in the ACT should contact the ACT Government’s Human Services’ Registrar (HSR) for assessment against the ACT safeguard framework by emailing Quality@act.gov.au or by phone on (02) 6207 5474.
Once you have provided initial contact information and let the HSR know which NDIS service and support clusters you intend to deliver under the NDIS, the HSR will let you know what further evidence you need to provide in order for your organisation’s compliance to be assessed.
The timeframe of an assessment will vary. The number and type of services applied for and your capacity to provide information in support of your application will determine how long an assessment may take. The assessment process is to ensure the services provided by your organisation adhere to quality and safety standards for the benefit of service users. The HSR will work with your organisation to help you demonstrate capacity to comply with the quality and safeguarding requirements. The HSR will advise you via email of its recommendation regarding registration. You should attach that email to your application to the NDIA in lieu of a 'certificate of registration' from the ACT.
The Office of the Human Services Registrar
The HSR is responsible for administering the amendments to the Disability Services Act 1991 and regulating the sector to ensure compliance with standards established under law. To do this it works closely with contract management areas across ACT Government, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and statutory office holders, such as the Disability and Community Services Commissioner, to ensure:
There is no unnecessary duplication of process or obligations for specialist disability service providers.
Complaints and issues about the delivery of services are addressed in the most appropriate and streamlined manner.
All issues about the delivery of specialist disability services (including alleged breaches of the Fair Trading (Australian Consumer Law) Act 1992) are identified and responded to.
When seeking to register with the NDIA, consideration is given to specialist disability service providers’ compliance with important safeguards and quality requirements in the ACT.
If you have any questions or concerns about safeguards during the trial of the NDIS, you can contact the Human Services Registrar at Quality@act.gov.au or by phone on (02) 6207 5474. The HSR will also help direct your concerns if another area can more appropriately respond to them.
About the legislation
The legislation commenced on 1 July 2014 with the start of the NDIS in the ACT.
The amendments in the Disability Services Act 1991 will ensure existing safeguards and quality standards remain even in an environment where there is no contract between a service provider and the ACT Government.
This legislation applies to all new and existing providers of specialist disability services, and will remain in place until a nationally consistent system is developed for the NDIS.
The legislation requires specialist disability service providers operating in the ACT during the NDIS trial period to meet minimum safeguards as well as standards relevant to the services being provided. It ensures the Official Visitor can continue to visit disability services. It also confers power onto the Territory to monitor those services against a regulatory framework.
Legislative powers of the ACT Government
The ACT Government retains responsibility for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the provisions as outlined in the legislation. Monitoring will be the responsibility of the Human Services Registrar.
The Human Services Registrar can support providers to comply with standards where there is evidence of non-compliance. A graduated approach to regulation offers the opportunity for providers to improve their service delivery.
Under the legislation, government can ask the provider for information; direct the provider to stop conduct in breach of a standard; provide the service in accordance with the standard; and/or to act to rectify any consequence of non-compliance.
Penalties can be imposed if a provider does not provide requested information or comply with standards or directions.
What is a Specialist Disability Service?
A specialist disability service is a service that is provided specifically for people with disability; and is of a type declared by the Minister under the legislation.
Who is a specialist disability service provider?
A specialist disability service provider is a person or entity (other than the Territory) that provides specialist disability services, whether or not for profit, but does not include: a close relative of a person with disability who provides specialist disability services to the person other than as an agent or employee of a specialist disability service provider; or a person or entity prescribed by regulation.
Requirements and Standards for Specialist Disability Services
The ACT Government values and wants to support the delivery of quality specialist disability services during the trial of the NDIS. The delivery of services consistent with national quality standards offers participants assurance and increases the reputation of providers in a competitive market.
Relevant standards include, but are not limited to:
National Disability Service Standards
National Home and Community Care standards
National Mental Health standards
A specialist disability service provider must report the circumstances of a risk where the provider has reasonable grounds to believe there is serious risk to the life, health or safety of a person with a disability to whom the provider is providing a specialist disability service.
Each provider has an obligation for ongoing disclosure of: an investigation of the provider; arbitration; litigation; or other adjudicative proceeding that could have an adverse impact on the provider’s capacity to comply with the standards.
For further information email Quality@act.gov.au or by phone on (02) 6207 5474.