Voluntary disability worker registration commences 1 July
This is one element of the Disability Worker Regulation Scheme which forms part of the Victorian government's response to a recommendation of the Victorian Parliament 2016 Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services.
The Disability Worker Regulation Scheme regulates all disability workers in Victoria, irrespective of the service funding source. 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:
- A mandatory obligation on all disability workers and employers to notify the Victorian Disability Worker Commission (the Commission) or the Disability Worker Registration Board (the 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.
Providers can subscribe for periodic updates on the Commission's website.
The Board has set three registration standards: criminal history, continuing professional development and competency in English. The registration year will range from 1 October to 30 September.
Transitional arrangements for registration will apply until 30 September 2022, with the 'adequate qualification' or 'two years experience' pathways. There are currently no fees for registration but all applicants for registration must undertake a criminal history check, which differs from an NDIS Check.
The Victorian Register of Disability Workers will have two divisions:
- Division 1 of the register is for the most skilled and qualified practitioners. Workers who meet the requirements of Division 1 are legally allowed to use the title ‘registered disability practitioner’.
- Division 2 of the register is for most registered workers in direct support roles. Workers registered in Division 2 are legally allowed to use the title ‘registered disability support worker’.
Registered disability workers will be issued with a registration certificate and be listed on the public register.
Code of Conduct
The Victorian Disability Workers Code of Conduct 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 Code of Conduct.
People with disability are able to 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 by filling out a web form, calling or writing to the Commission.
Employers and disability workers must notify the Commission if they believe that a worker has engaged in certain types of misconduct.
There are four types of conduct that must be notified:
- 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 web form or by calling the Commission.
NDS recognises that this suite of safeguarding aims to provide greater safety and quality services to people with disability. However, there is some concern about the potential for duplication and confusion, with the state-based regulation alongside the national NDIS Quality and Safeguarding framework. We will continue to monitor this situation and welcome feedback from members about the impact of the Scheme.