Final Report of Safeguarding Task Force released
The Final Report of the South Australian Safeguarding Task Force was released by the Government of South Australia on Monday this week.
The Task Force established following the tragic death of NDIS participant, Ms Anne Marie Smith has outlined 14 key safeguarding gaps and seven associated recommendations to the State Government.
The Task Force looked specifically at how safeguarding and oversight can be improved for people living with disability in South Australia under the Federal system. NDS commends the work of the Task Force and their findings, many of which have also been highlighted by NDS in various consultative forums.
NDS notes the number of the Safeguarding Gaps identified by the Taskforce go to issues NDS and our members have identified and advocated on for some time. These include:
- Ensuring that potentially vulnerable participants have access to support coordination on their NDIS plan;
- The importance of supporting people with disability to be supported to establish linkages in their community;
- The NDIS Commission having an enhanced capacity to undertake proactive inspections
- The risks associated with potentially vulnerable participants relying on the services of unregistered providers, who are not required to comply with the Quality and Safeguards Framework, audits or practice standards; and
- The importance of funding being available in plans to ensure two support workers are able to support a participant where circumstances demand it.
NDS also welcomes the commitment by the Government of South Australia to $1.8 million in new funding towards individual disability advocacy to assist people with disabilities to navigate the NDIS. The full list of identified Gaps and Recommendations can be found below:
- Potentially vulnerable participants are not routinely identified and assigned ongoing support coordination in their NDIS Plan.
- The support coordinator can be from the same agency that provides other core services for the individual, creating a conflict of interest.
- Participants are not routinely linked to community activities so they are often isolated.
- Participants are not identified as potentially vulnerable by the NDIA and prioritised by LAC when carrying out the community connection role.
- NDIS plans do not routinely include strategies to minimise participant risk, for example, coordination of health care (including dental, sexual and mental health), technology to aid independence and safety, capacity building for asserting rights, and recognition of cultural matters.
- Participants and their families are unclear about how to raise matters of concern with the Commission and the Commission does not routinely undertake proactive inspections to vet the performance of service providers.
- The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission does not adequately consider the risk factors associated with the use of unregistered providers of personal support, particularly for potentially vulnerable participants.
- The Commission does not explicitly require of all providers of personal support that there be at least two support workers for that individual (not necessarily at the same time) and that workers in participants’ homes have regular supervision.
- Regular health checks are not routinely made available to all vulnerable NDIS participants and their NDIS plan does not routinely include coordination of their health care.
- There is currently no State agency to report abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults under 65 years of age.
- The DHS Screening Unit is not quickly and fully provided with relevant information by the Commission, the NDIA and some State agencies, compromising the availability of information on an individual worker that might affect their suitability to work with people with disabilities.
- The commencement of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissions on 1 July 2018 in South Australia has created issues with the scope of the Community Visitor Scheme.
- State and local government agencies have not yet invested sufficiently in achieving the goals of the Disability Inclusion Act 2018.
- The State has not invested in individual advocacy to assist people with disabilities to navigate the service system and the community.
- That the State Government communicate the matters raised in this report to the Commonwealth Government with special reference to Safeguarding Gaps 1 to 9, seeking a response on how these gaps must be addressed as soon as possible.
- That the State Government address the need for vulnerable NDIS participants to have regular health checks including communicating to the Commonwealth Department of Health. (Safeguarding Gap 9).
- That the State Government extend the scope of the Adult Safeguarding Unit to include younger adults at risk of abuse prior to 2022, commencing with people with disabilities. (Safeguarding Gap 10).
- That DHS revisit the information sharing guidelines as they impact on screening of workers and, in particular, the availability of relevant information from the Commonwealth (Safeguarding Gap 11).
- That the State Government reaffirm the value of a community visitor scheme as an additional safeguard for potentially vulnerable participants and work with the Commonwealth to establish a complementary scheme. (Safeguarding Gap 12).
- That State and Local Government agencies provide for better access and inclusion so that people with disabilities can fully participate in society. (Safeguarding Gap 13).
- That the State government invest in individual advocacy to assist individuals with accessing what they need from the NDIS and from the community. (Safeguarding Gap 14).