NDIS Worker Screening Rules released
The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission (NDIS Commission) started operating in New South Wales and South Australia on 1 July 2018.
The rules outline the obligations on registered providers to only engage workers in certain roles if they have an NDIS Worker Screening Check clearance, and set out the transitional worker screening arrangements for NSW and SA providers while the new NDIS Worker Screening Check is being introduced.
Roles requiring an NDIS Worker Screening Check
Under the Rules, providers will need to review all roles (including those of other personnel and subcontractors) to identify whether they are a ‘risk assessed role’. Risk assessed roles will require personnel engaged in these roles to apply for an NDIS Worker Screening Check.
Risk assessed roles include:
- Roles that are involved in the direct delivery of specified kinds of services or supports to a person with disability. A list of specified services and support will be published by the NDIS Commission.
- Roles whose normal duties are likely to require more than incidental contact with a person with disability. This takes into account the intimacy of the role (e.g., physical contact with the participant), whether rapport with the participant is required, and the frequency and regularity of the contact. This includes other personnel who are not directly employed or engaged by the provider but perform work at the premises or a registered provider or as part of the provision of supports and services to any person with disability.
- Key personnel such as those holding executive, senior management and operational positions in a registered NDIS provider, for example, as a Chief Executive Officer, Chairperson or Board Member.
The Rules also require providers who are subcontracting disability supports to develop contractual relationships that ensure other personnel are appropriately screened if they are going to engage in a risk assessed role with the NDIS provider.
Secondary school students on formal work experience who are directly supervised by a worker with a clearance (or acceptable check – see the transitional arrangements outlined below) are exempt from requiring a NDIS Worker Screening Check clearance.
Outcomes of an NDIS Worker Screening Check
Once an NDIS Worker Screening Check has been applied for, workers will either receive a clearance or an exclusion.
Excluded workers are prohibited from working in any risk assessed role with registered providers. They are also obliged under the Code of Conduct to disclose the outcome of their NDIS Worker Screening Check to providers and NDIS participants where they are being engaged to provide supports and services.
An interim bar will be used in cases in which records indicate that a person may pose a risk to people with a disability but further information is required to make a final decision as to whether a clearance or an exclusion will be issued.
NDIS Worker Screening Checks will be valid for up to five years from the date of the decision and will be subject to ongoing monitoring by NDIS worker screening units.
The rules outline the appeal mechanisms for workers related to Worker Screening decisions.
Workers who have an acceptable NSW or SA check will be able to work in risk assessed roles (roles that have been identified as requiring an NDIS Worker Screening Check). While the arrangements differ slightly in each state, acceptable checks are generally those that have met previous state requirements for criminal records checks or clearances for disability services employment.
Workers who have been cleared for child-related employment or who have undergone a Working with Children Check (as long as this was required of their role) will also be able to work in risk assessed roles. It is important to note that checks must be current (having been conducted in the last four years in NSW and the last three years in SA). Clearances to work with children must be also be current.
Where a worker’s acceptable check expires prior to 1 July 2018, or for new workers yet to undergo an acceptable check, workers will be screened under existing state arrangements for acceptable checks until 1 July 2019 or the acceptable check expires - whichever happens later.
Providers operating in NSW and SA are encouraged to check the arrangements that apply in their state.
Procedures while workers are obtaining an NDIS Worker Check
Workers will also be able to be engaged in risk assessed roles while they are in the process of obtaining an NDIS Worker Screening Check clearance. To do so, they must be appropriately supervised by a person with a clearance (or with an acceptable check under the relevant state or territory transitional arrangements).
Providers will be required to establish a written risk management plan for protecting people with disability while a worker or any other personnel is in the process of obtaining a clearance and this must be implemented whilst a clearance is being obtained.
Self-managing participants and unregistered providers
Concerns relating to protections for self-managing participants have been raised by NDS on behalf of members, however the Rules confirm that mandatory NDIS Worker Screening Checks only apply to registered providers.
Self-managing NDIS participants may request that workers who provide supports and services to them have an NDIS Worker Screening Check. Workers employed by unregistered providers may also apply for an NDIS Worker Screening Check as long as their application is endorsed by their employer.
The NDIS Commission will ensure that information about the NDIS Worker Screening Check will be available to all participants. Self-managing participants, unregistered NDIS providers, and registered plan managers will be strongly encouraged to make use of the NDIS worker screening process for workers they engage.
NDIS providers must inform self-managing NDIS participants if they intend to use a worker who has been excluded to deliver NDIS supports or services.
The COAG agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments calls for the establishment of a National Clearance Database. Each state and territory government will be required to introduce or amend legislation to establish a scheme for the screening of NDIS workers that is consistent with the national policy, and to establish and operate (or expand any existing) NDIS worker screening units.
NDS has created a resource hub for NDIS Quality and Safeguarding and will be developing a series of exclusive webinars, exploring each of the main components of the Framework in more detail. These webinars will be available as soon as guidance material is finalised. In the meantime, NDS members can access the first member-exclusive webinar recorded on 5 June 2018. This webinar covers the main components of the Quality and Safeguards Framework.
The NDIS Commission website is also now live.
For more information on the Rules from NDS, you can contact: