Fiona's Focus: What providers need to know about Quality and Safeguards requirements
Welcome to the September edition of Victorian NDIS News. This month, I am focusing on what providers need to know about key aspects of the new Quality and Safeguards requirements here in Victoria.
As many of you will be well aware, NDIS providers in Victoria have now been operating under the jurisdiction of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (the NDIS Commission) since 1 July 2019. The NDIS Commission has regulatory powers over both registered and unregistered NDIS providers.
One of the key elements of the NDIS Commission is its Code of Conduct. This applies to all registered and unregistered providers and their employees, community partners of the NDIA – LAC and ECEI, providers delivering information, linkages, and capacity building (ILC) activities, and providers delivering Commonwealth Continuity of Support Program services for people over the age of 65.
The Code of Conduct has the following seven key elements:
- Act with respect for individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination and decision-making in accordance with applicable laws and conventions
- Respect the privacy of people with disability
- Provide supports and services in a safe and competent manner with care and skill
- Act with integrity, honesty and transparency
- Promptly take steps to raise and act on concerns about matters that may impact the quality and safety of supports and services provided to people with disability
- Take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against, and exploitation, neglect and abuse of, people with disability
- Take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct
It is important to understand that providers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are not only familiar with the Code of Conduct but that they understand what these elements mean in the everyday delivery of high-quality services. To assist providers and workers, the NDIA has released an e-learning Worker Orientation Module called Quality, Safety and You. On the NDIS Commission’s website, it stated that providers should “include the module within their induction process for workers, and encourage existing workers to undertake the module over time”. This obligation for all workers to complete the e-learning module is more explicit in the practice standards, with one of the human resource management quality indicators being ‘completion of the mandatory NDIS worker orientation program.
It is helpful to know that the NDIS Commission has developed the following two detailed guides for providers and workers that explain the elements of the Code of Conduct using relatable scenarios to illustrate how the code applies in practice:
In Victoria, the State Government has also passed the Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018. This legislation brings into operation from 1 July 2020 a voluntary Disability Worker Registration Scheme and the introduction of a Code of Conduct for all disability workers in Victoria. This will include not only people working with NDIS participants, but also workers funded by the state government, TAC, and any other services.
NDS has attended forums on the new Scheme and has been making representations about the development of the Code of Conduct. The legislation states that the Victorian Code of Conduct needs to align with the NDIS Commission’s Code of Conduct. We are advocating for an identical Code of Conduct to be adopted, with the focus then being on how the sector is supported to understand how to deliver services that reflect and amplify the requirements under the code. NDS contends that creation of a second code may lead to confusion, and will potentially diminish the impact of each code.
The NDIS Commission’s code and the Victorian code will need to be complied with in conjunction with any other applicable Codes of Conduct such as Child Safe, codes from professional bodies such as Occupational Therapy, Psychology and workplace codes.
NDS invites providers to register for the NDIS Code of Conduct Workshop taking place in Bendigo on 29 October or in Melbourne on 21 November. Thank you for reading this edition of Fiona’s Focus, hopefully it has provided some tools and knowledge to support you through current and forthcoming changes in our sector.
See you next month,
NDS State Manager, Victoria