NDIS Worker Screening to commence February 2021 in WA
NDS highlights that:
- The new NDIS worker screening takes effect from February 2021. The nation-wide Worker Screening Check (NDIS Check) and NDIS Worker Screening Database will be introduced by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) from this date;
- It is a nationally consistent tool that can help NDIS provide a quality and safe workforce and replaces an array of screening processes used in States and Territories.
- The screening process will assess whether a person who works or seeks to work with people with disability poses a risk to them, and will determine whether they are cleared or excluded from working in certain roles. It will help ensure that individuals seeking to work with people with disability via disability providers or directly engaged do not present any unacceptable risk; and
- This legislation aims to deter individuals who pose a risk of harm to people with disability from applying to work in the sector; reduce the potential for providers to employ workers who pose an unacceptable risk of harm to people with disability; establishes consistent standards for worker screening; and imposes substantial penalties if the clearance requirements of the legislation are not met.
- An application fee will apply. Further details are to come.
NDS welcomes the passing of the NDIS (Worker Screening) Bill, which provides for the implementation of nationally consistent NDIS worker screening resulting in NDIS worker screening decisions being portable across jurisdictions and employers within the NDIS.
The states and territories will fund and manage the administrative and system support costs of NDIS worker screening units, take enforcement action in relation to an applicant who provides false or misleading information, and facilitate effective information sharing.
The intention of the Bill is to introduce a high standard of screening for people who engage in NDIS work.
The Department of Communities (DoC) is responsible for assisting the Minister for Disability Services in the administration of the Act and accordingly, the CEO has key responsibilities under the Act. In WA, NDIS Checks will be completed by the DoC, within which the WA NDIS Worker Screening Unit operates. The DoC will also undertake ongoing monitoring of national criminal records and other information of all workers cleared under NDIS worker screening across Australia.
How it will work
NDS is pleased that there will be transitional arrangements for current workers until their current worker clearance expires – new workers will be required to take the check and existing workers will phase-in over time once the NDIS worker screening commences.
There will also be transitional arrangements for the period 1 December 2020 to 1 February 1 2021, to ensure workers have an acceptable check in place until the NDIS worker screening check commences.
More information for providers and workers about the worker screening process can be found on the NDIS Check website.
While NDS supports and acknowledges that the screening checks better support the safety and wellbeing of NDIS participants, there are some implementation issues which need further consideration by the State Government, including the following:
- There may be some additional administrative requirements for employers associated with implementing the legislation, including the cost of the application fee to apply for the NDIS. Further details are to come.
- It is not yet clear who will bear these costs. The disability services sector should be funded for any additional costs incurred.
- NDS believes there is an opportunity for some of the staff training components associated with the requirements of the Workers Screening Legislation to become part of the implementation of the NDS WA Skills Passport project. This project provides a good opportunity to streamline and manage costs for both employers and employees.
- The DoC will need to be adequately resourced to manage the implementation of the worker screening legislation.
- Consideration needs to be given to how the legislation will be implemented in regional, rural and remote parts of WA so that people will not be disadvantaged by not having appropriate care for an extended period while some of the screen and clearance processes are undertaken.
We encourage the State Government to continue to engage and work collaboratively with NDS, disability service providers, workers and people with disability, their families and carers to ensure NDIS worker screening is effectively implemented across WA from February 2021.