A nationally consistent quality and safeguards framework is being developed to ensure that people interacting with the NDIS can expect consistent standards and safeguards wherever they live in Australia.
What are safeguards?
The aim of the NDIS is to give participants choice and control over their lives while helping to ensure they are not at risk of harm, abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Safeguards refer to a range of supports and mechanisms that ensure safety and wellbeing while supporting a person to have a good quality life, be an active and equal citizen, and to reach their potential. Safeguards include natural safeguards such as personal relationships and community connections, and formal safeguards such as service standards, regulations and quality assurance systems that apply to individuals and organisations providing supports.
Why are safeguards needed?
Safeguards are important in minimising risk and helping to improve the level of service that organisations provide.
Commonwealth, state and territory governments have existing formal safeguards systems, such as standards, registration and contracts. We use these existing quality and safeguard frameworks for specialist disability services that apply in NDIS regions and launch areas.
However, the NDIS is operating in a rapidly expanding market driven by participants' needs, and people with disability are increasingly exercising choice and control to reach their own goals. As such, a new nationally consistent approach to NDIS quality and safeguards is required so participants can access services and supports that promote choice, control and dignity.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission)
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, a new independent Commonwealth body, will work to promote safety, quality services, prevent harm, resolve problems and identify areas for improvement. Participants can raise concerns or complaints about the safety and quality of NDIS services with the NDIS Commission. The NDIS Commission will also be responsible for the registration and regulation of NDIS providers across Australia, a function previously performed by the NDIA and states and territories.
From 1 July 2018, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) began operating in New South Wales and South Australia. For information about making a complaint, visit the NDIS Commission website (external)
The NDIS Commission will begin to regulate and register providers operating in:
- Vic, Qld, Tas, ACT and NT from 1 July 2019
- WA from 1 July 2020.
If the NDIS Commission is not currently available in your area, visit the NDIS Commission website (external) for useful information about your state or territory requirements for quality and safeguards.
Until the NDIS Commission is in place in each jurisdiction, NDIS participants, providers and workers are covered under their state's or territory's existing quality and safeguards systems.
The NDIS Commission and the NDIA will work together to help make the transition to the new quality and safeguarding system as smooth as possible for NDIS providers and participants.
How will we help to safeguard participants from risk?
As the Scheme matures and more people with disability have choice and control over their lives, NDIS participants will play a more active role in determining their own safety mechanisms. To support this, we will use formal safeguarding systems integrated with building the capacity of individual NDIS participants to take control of their own safety.
When the full roll out of the NDIS is complete, safeguards will include:
- individualised strategies built into participant plans to help the participant, their family and support network reduce the risk of harm, through mechanisms such as advocates, guardians and nominees
- arrangements that organisations put in place to protect participants, such as:
- staff supervision
- internal complaints processes
- quality frameworks
- system level safeguards such as:
- external review of decisions and actions that directly impact on a person, such as access to relevant tribunals or commissions
- community visitors schemes
- police checks and working with children checks
- community based safeguards that are available to all members of the community, such as:
- practitioner registration requirements
- ombudsman offices
- anti-discrimination, human rights and consumer protection law.
How will we work with participants to ensure safeguards?
We want to ensure that people with disability have the same rights as other members of Australian society. To their full capacity, people with disability can determine their own best interests, have choice and control, and be equal partners in decisions that affect their lives. This includes choices that may involve taking reasonable risks to pursue personal goals, experience life and have the necessary control over the planning and delivery of supports.
The NDIA will work with participants to build supportive networks to minimise potential harm, and empower them to participate in the community and take reasonable risks appropriate to their circumstances.
When will participant’s safeguards be discussed?
We encourage participants to consider the safeguards, strategies and support mechanisms they have in their lives when developing their statement of supports, deciding on their support requirements, developing their plan and putting their plan into action.
The planning conversation and the development of the individual support plans is an opportunity for an open discussion about actual and potential risks. The NDIA planner and participant work together to identify risks and any safeguards that may be required, and discuss plan management options. The planner helps to identify how participants can enhance the existing safeguards they have in their lives, ways they could enhance their capacity to protect themselves from risk, and other formal safeguarding mechanisms they might wish to access.
If required, an NDIS local area coordinator can help to monitor and assist in strengthening safeguards in the participant’s life.
If you need help understanding this factsheet, or need more information, please contact us.