NDIS Commission releases 12-monthly activity report
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) has today published its 12-month activity report covering the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 for all states and territories in Australia.
The NDIS Commission commenced in:
- New South Wales and South Australia on 1 July 2018
- Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory on 1 July 2019
- Western Australia on 1 December 2020.
The transition of Western Australia and the commencement of national NDIS Worker Screening during 2020-21 completed the national rollout of the NDIS Commission for every NDIS participant across Australia. The NDIS Commission now delivers a nation-wide approach to consistently protect and improve the rights, health and wellbeing of every NDIS participant. The NDIS Code of Conduct applies to all NDIS providers and workers across the country.
“This activity report moves the NDIS Commission closer towards reporting on quality and safeguards activities nationally. Our six month report at 31 December 2021, will provide, for the first time, a national overview of the experience of people with disability who rely on supports in the NDIS,” said Ms Samantha Taylor, the Acting NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner.
In the 12-month period to 30 June 2021, the NDIS Commission received 7,231 complaints about supports and services provided through the NDIS. Since starting in July 2018, the NDIS Commission has received over 13,000 complaints. “I welcome the increasing rate of complaints, particularly the increasing rate of complaints directly from people with disability. Complaints are a key part in monitoring the quality of supports in the NDIS. The more empowered people with disability are to speak up to their providers, and if they need, to the NDIS Commission, the better,” said Ms Taylor.
“People with disability have a right to good quality and safe supports. If there are concerns this is not happening, we want to hear about it. Most importantly, we want to do something about it,” said Ms Taylor.
A key focus of the NDIS Commission’s work is to improve the way that NDIS providers manage serious incidents that affect the safety and wellbeing of people with disability. Providers must report certain incidents to the NDIS Commission, and explain how they are responding to those incidents and supporting the people affected by them.
In this reporting period, the NDIS Commission received 1,044,851 reportable incidents. 98.7% of these reports related to the use of an unauthorised restrictive practice (URP) on a person with disability, with 93% of the URPs relating to chemical or environmental restraints.
The use of a restrictive practice is ‘unauthorised’ if its use has not been authorised in accordance with any state or territory requirements for authorisation and/or it is not used in accordance with a behaviour support plan. Providers must report every instance of a restrictive practice, including each individual use, until a behaviour support plan is lodged.
The sheer volume of these reports highlights the nature of these practices across Australia and the scale of their use. Despite extensive compliance action undertaken by the NDIS Commission during 2020-21, the rate of the use of restrictive practices that are unauthorised has continued to rise. Only some of the increase is explained by the transition of Western Australia and the NDIS Commission’s oversight of residential aged care providers supporting NDIS participants since 1 December 2020.
The report continues to highlight the importance of:
- providers and behaviour support practitioners working closely together to put in place positive behaviour supports arrangements
- all state and territory governments progressing the actions under the National Framework for Reducing and Eliminating the Use of Restrictive Practices in the Disability Service that was agreed to in 2013.
“We are accelerating our compliance activity where there is ongoing use of URPs where providers are not moving to obtain authorisation, or have failed to put in place a behaviour support plan. The focus of that compliance activity is to move regulatory oversight of the use of restrictive practices to one that focuses on positive behaviour supports, that promote practice that protects the right, freedom and dignity of any person with disability by reducing the use of these arrangements and ultimately work to eliminate them,” said Ms Taylor. “As well as ramping up compliance action on this critical issue, I will also be publishing a full analysis of the use of restrictive practices and behaviour support plan activities by the end of 2021 to expose the issues in practice.”
The report also describes the NDIS Commission’s regulatory activity, including exercising compliance and enforcement powers to address breaches of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act). In this reporting period, 1,952 corrective compliance activities were undertaken. A total of 2,711 NDIS providers were subject to compliance activity and a number of banning orders, suspensions and revocations of registrations, infringement and compliance notices, and refusals of registrations were determined. Many of these actions are taken in response to incidents reported to the NDIS Commission, complaints, and large scale national compliance strategies designed to uplift quality and service delivery practice.
“We have continued to act where risk to the safety of NDIS participants has been identified, and in instances where providers have not acted to address that risk,” Ms Taylor said. “We are focusing national compliance activities on system level issues that come to our attention through our functions, like incident reporting and complaints.”
National NDIS Worker Screening, the first of its kind in Australia, also commenced in February 2021. Over 112,000 worker clearances have been granted, and state and territory government worker screening units are actively making decisions to exclude people from getting a clearance where they are identified as not meeting the threshold for a clearance. “Excluding workers from working in the NDIS where they pose an unacceptable risk to people with disability is precisely what worker screening was intended to do,” said Ms Taylor.
During this reporting period, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has remained a high priority for the NDIS Commission. Tools and resources have continued to be deployed to assist NDIS providers to meet their obligations to minimise disruption to critical supports and services for people with disability. As the focus on responding to the pandemic has shifted with a strong emphasis on vaccination, the NDIS Commission has supported participants and providers to have access to the very latest information from the Australian Government Department of Health, and their state and territory health authorities, and has actively promoted vaccination for people with disability and the NDIS workforce.
Further information and statistics are in the activity report, which is available to view on the NDIS Commission website.
The Acting Commissioner's analysis of the use of restrictive practices and behaviour support plan activities during the 2020-21 period will be released in early January 2022.