Disability Worker Regulation Scheme commenced and Commissioner appointed
In Victoria, key elements of the Disability Worker Regulation Scheme have commenced from 1 July 2020, including new complaints processes, notifications and the Victorian Code of Conduct for disability workers.
The Disability Worker Regulation Scheme was established by the Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018 (Vic), to regulate all disability workers in Victoria, irrespective of the service funding source, from 1 July 2020. The main purpose of the Scheme is to ensure the quality, safety, responsiveness and sustainability of the disability workforce. The Scheme aims to do this in four key ways:
- Establishing a new mandatory obligation on all disability workers and employers to notify the Victorian Disability Worker Commission (Commission) or the Disability Worker Registration Board (Board) of any allegations that a disability worker has engaged in notifiable conduct.
- Enabling suitably trained and competent disability workers to obtain registration status with the Board.
- Providing processes to make complaints about disability workers to the Commission or the Board.
- Facilitating the creation of the Disability Service Safeguards Code of Conduct with which all disability workers must comply.
It is noted that the registration of workers under the Scheme has been delayed to 1 July 2021.
Code of Conduct
The Victorian Code of Conduct for disability workers forms one aspect of the Disability Worker Regulation Scheme, and is overseen by the Victorian Disability Worker Commission. The Code applies to all disability workers employed or otherwise engaged to deliver disability services in Victoria, regardless of their funding source. The Code of Conduct mirrors the seven elements in the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission’s Code of Conduct. Detailed guidance about the Code of Conduct is available on the Disability Worker Commission website, where providers can also subscribe for periodic updates.
People with disability can now make complaints about any disability worker in Victoria. Complaints may be about:
- the standard of work
- the knowledge, skill or judgement of the disability worker
- their capacity to provide services safely
- an alleged breach of the Disability Service Safeguards Act 2018 (Vic) or the Disability Service Safeguards Code of Conduct.
Complaints can be made filling out a webform, calling or writing to the Victorian Disability Worker Commission.
Employers and disability workers must notify the Victorian Disability Worker Commission if they believe that a worker has engaged in certain types of misconduct. The notifications are aimed to help make the Victorian Disability Worker Commission aware of potential risks to people with disability.
Four types of conduct must be notified to the Commission:
- practising as a disability worker while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs,
- engaging in sexual misconduct while practising as a disability worker,
- placing the public at risk of harm because the disability worker has an impairment that detrimentally affects (or is likely to affect), the disability worker's capacity to practise as a disability worker, or
- placing the public at risk of harm because the disability worker practised, or is practising, as a disability worker in a manner that constitutes a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
Notifications can be made via a webform or by calling the Commission.
NDS is concerned about the potential for duplication and confusion, with the new Victorian Disability Worker Commission working alongside the Victorian Disability Services Commission (newly merged with the Mental Health Complaints Commission) and the national NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission. We will continue to monitor this situation, and welcome feedback from members about the impact of the new Scheme.
NDS welcomes the appointment of Treasure Jennings as the Commissioner for the Mental Health Complaints Commission and the Disability Services Commission from 1 July 2020. It is noted that the decision to merge the two bodies is due to most quality and safeguarding functions from the Disability Services Commission transferring to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. People wishing to engage with the Commissioner can visit either the Disability Services Commissioner website or the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner website.