Statement regarding Crikey.com.au

Crikey.com.au has published a number of articles that raise very serious issues about the safety and wellbeing of people with disability and the role of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission). The articles claim the NDIS Commission routinely dismisses allegations of abuse and neglect. These claims are inaccurate and the reporting may cause distress to people with disability, their carers, families and friends. Of most concern is that it may cause people with disability, their carers, families, friends and the wider community to not raise complaints, including violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation with the NDIS Commission.

We understand that Crikey.com.au intends to publish a five part series on a number of cases involving abuse and harm to people with disability. These are very serious matters, of which the NDIS Commission has been aware, and to respect individuals and their privacy the NDIS Commission does not comment on individual complaints.

In order to correct the public record, below are the three approaches that Crikey.com.au made to the NDIS Commission. Our full response to each enquiry has been provided below.

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CRIKEY: 27 JULY 2020

  1. How many staff are employed by the commission in each state? 
  2. What onboarding training are staff given? 
  3. When reportable incidents are submitted, are the participants involved informed? 
  4. How can participants get copies of their complaints and investigations? Emails show the commission simply provides the commission's conclusion/ resolution
  5. How many complaints and reportable incidents are logged in each state each year?
  6. How many reportable incidents have been investigated in each state this year?
  7. How many complaints have been escalated to a compliance action or investigation in each state this year? Previous response - complaint
  8. Since the new/ strengthened banning powers came in last month, have they been used? 
  9. How many providers have had compliance actions / banned actioned this year? 

NDIS COMMISSION RESPONSE:

The resources available to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) are determined through Australia Government budget processes. Staffing levels are determined within the allocation available to the agency. Further information regarding staffing is published annually in our Annual Report.

All staff receive a full induction and training commensurate with their role and responsibilities. This training includes a range of mandatory training, to ensure all staff understand their responsibilities and obligations as Australian public servants and NDIS Commission employees.

The NDIS Commission requires all providers to manage the risk of support delivery to NDIS participants. This is a fundamental aspect of the regulatory model for the NDIS agreed to by all state and territory governments. The NDIS Commission does receive reports of incidents or allegations affecting people with disability. Providers supporting people with disability must take steps to provide a safe environment for the people they support. The NDIS Commission’s role is to determine whether a providers’ management of an incident is adequate and appropriate, and that future harm to the person, or others, is avoided. It is our expectation that providers will engage with the people they support who are subject to these incidents.

NDIS participants can get certain information that the NDIS Commission holds about matters involving them, by contacting the NDIS Commission and asking for the information to be released to them.

The number and nature of complaints received by the NDIS Commission are published in our Annual Report and 6 month Activity Reports. The NDIS Commission’s activity report for 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2020 will be published on our website in due course, once the collation and verification of data has been finalised.

The banning order powers have not yet changed. The proposed changes are in the NDIS Amendment (Strengthening Banning Orders) Bill 2020 , which was introduced to the parliament on 12 June 2020 and is currently being considered.

The NDIS Commission publish compliance and enforcement action taken against providers and individuals on our website.

Background information:

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CRIKEY: 9 AUGUST 2020

Further to this: How does the commission respond to allegations it is understaffed and unable to cope with the huge amounts of complaints and reportable incidents?

NDIS COMMISSION RESPONSE:

We have responded previously to your enquiries on staffing levels at the NDIS Commission.

The NDIS Commission does receive a large number of reports of incidents about people with disability. The reportable incident function of the NDIS Commission is shining a light for the first time on the events that have or could result in serious harm to people with disability.

Registered NDIS providers are required to report certain incidents to the NDIS Commission as a condition of their registration. This includes the use of restrictive practices on people with disability that have not been authorised by state and territory authorities, or where plans to promote positive behaviour supports are not yet in place for that person. 94% of incidents reported to the NDIS Commission involve the use of an unauthorised restrictive practices. NDIS Commission has a compliance exercise underway to determine why these practices have not been yet authorised or plans in place, starting with New South Wales and South Australian providers who have been under the jurisdiction of the NDIS Commission since 1 July 2018. The NDIS Commission is also working with states and territories to achieve a nationally consistent approach to restrictive practice authorisation arrangements.

The remaining 6% of reportable incidents involve harm, or allegations of harm to a person with disability. All such reports made to the NDIS Commission are immediately assessed. Where these involve allegations of a criminal nature, they must be referred to the Police or other relevant authorities - preferably by the provider reporting the matter, or by the NDIS Commission if we consider this is an appropriate course of action and has not already occurred.

Background information:

  • Providers supporting people with disability must take steps to provide a safe environment for the people they support. The NDIS Commission’s role is to determine whether a providers’ management of an incident is adequate and appropriate, and that future harm to the person, or others, is avoided
  • Not all the incidents that are reported to the NDIS Commission involve harm to a person with disability. Reports received can include multiple notifications of the same matter, allegations of incidents and where incidents occurred but harm to the person with disability was avoided.

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CRIKEY - 10 AUGUST 2020

My investigation examines the experiences of three people with disabilities and their families when submitting complaints to the commission. The complaints were resolved in each case, with the families not supporting the resolution.

I understand the commission can't comment on individual cases, but I am providing them here for context. Could I get a line addressing my previous question on complaints and the allegations below (or a line on not being able to comment on individual cases?)

[Case examples not published in this NDIS Commission statement, in order to protect the privacy of the individuals.]

NDIS COMMISSION RESPONSE:

We have responded previously to your enquiries on staffing levels at the NDIS Commission.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission (NDIS Commission) takes all complaints seriously.

The NDIS Commission received 2,022 complaints about NDIS supports and services in the period 1 July to 31 December 2019. Complaints and reportable incidents are separate functions and managed by separate teams at the NDIS Commission.

To respect individuals and their privacy the NDIS Commission does not comment on individual complaints.

The NDIS Commission regularly uses information from closed complaints to determine if providers are meeting their obligations under the NDIS Code of Conduct and Conditions of Registration. From this intelligence, if a view is formed that this may not be occurring, the NDIS Commission will consider taking further action as part of our ongoing compliance response.

In some circumstances, NDIS participants will choose to not pursue a complaint. Instead, they choose to exercise their right to choice and control and move to another service provider that better suit their needs.

If complainants disagree with the decision on their complaint, they can ask for the decision to be reviewed. Information about the complaint reconsideration process is available on our website. Complainants can also contact the NDIS Commission if they are concerned about how their complaint has been managed. If they are not satisfied with our response, their concerns can be raised with the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Background information:

  • Anyone can make a complaint to the NDIS Commission about the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services. We work with the complainant and the provider to resolve complaints.

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CRIKEY: 15 AUGUST 2020

I'm looking for confirmation that a taskforce has been established to investigate *participants complaint following the publication of my story in Crikey?

* Name not published by the NDIS Commission, in order to protect the privacy of the individual.

NDIS COMMISSION RESPONSE:

As we have previously advised - to respect individuals and their privacy, the NDIS Commission does not comment on individual complaints.

The stories published by Crikey.com.au raise very serious issues about the safety and wellbeing of people with disability and the role of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission). The articles claim the NDIS Commission routinely dismisses allegations of abuse and neglect. These claims are inaccurate and the reporting may cause distress to people with disability, their carers, families and friends.

Of most concern is that it may cause people with disability, their carers, families, friends and the wider community to not raise complaints, including violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation with the NDIS Commission.

Background information:

  • If complainants disagree with the decision on their complaint, they can ask for the decision to be reviewed. Information about the complaint reconsideration process is available on our website. Complainants can also contact the NDIS Commission if they are concerned about how their complaint has been managed. If they are not satisfied with our response, their concerns can be raised with the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
  • Statement regarding Crikey.com.au

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CRIKEY: 17 AUGUST 2020

Are you able to confirm on background whether the taskforce has been established?

NDIS COMMISSION RESPONSE:

Our response to this enquiry has been provided.

QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY CRIKEY: 20 AUGUST 2020

The commission has posted job advertisements for multiple Complaints & Reportable Incidents Officers in Canberra, while recruiters have been contacting people about postings with the commission in Penrith.

I'm looking to know 

  • Is this in response to Crikey's series? 
  • Is the commission replacing staff who have left, or are these new roles?
  • Is the commission acknowledging that it was inadequately staffed? 

NDIS COMMISSION RESPONSE:

No the recruitment decisions made by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) are not in response the series published by Crikey.com.au.

As we have previously advised, the resources available to the NDIS Commission are determined through Australia Government budget processes. Staffing levels are determined within the allocation available to the agency. Further information regarding staffing is published annually in our Annual Report.


Reference is made in the Crikey.com.au article to claims made by Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie. Crikey.com.au did not approach the NDIS Commission on this matter or seek our comment.

The matters referred to by Ms Sharkie are similar to matters that the NDIS Commission either has under active investigation, or has taken enforcement or compliance action on. Some of the matters referred to by Ms Sharkie are criminal matters and should be investigated by the appropriate authorities. All alleged criminal conduct matters that the NDIS Commission are made aware of are referred to the Police and other appropriate authorities as relevant. The NDIS Commission cannot undertake criminal investigations.

Media Contact:

0436 649 635
media@ndiscommission.gov.au

If you need to make a complaint about your NDIS Funded Services

People with disability have the right to complain about the services they receive. Most NDIS providers do their best to provide quality supports and services to people with disability, but issues can occur. If you have a concern about your current NDIS supports or services, it is important that you talk about it.

The NDIS Commission can take complaints from anyone about:

  • NDIS services or supports that were not provided in a safe and respectful way
  • NDIS services and supports that were not delivered to an appropriate standard
  • how an NDIS provider has managed a complaint about services or supports provided to an NDIS participant.

If you are in New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria or Tasmania, a complaint can be made to the NDIS Commission by:

If you are in Western Australia, existing arrangements for making complaints remain in place, until 1 December 2020.