Statement: NDIS Commission releases second annual Activity Report

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) has today published its second annual activity report that includes its first year of operation in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The NDIS Commission will operate nationally from 1 December 2020, when it commences in Western Australia.

The activity report covers the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. It provides a baseline for ongoing assessment of participant engagement and NDIS provider practice and behaviour since the NDIS Commission commenced operating on 1 July 2018.

In the 12-month period, the NDIS Commission received 4,469 complaints about supports and services in the NDIS. “Complaints are an important aspect of how we monitor the quality of supports to people with disability in the NDIS,” said Mr Graeme Head, the NDIS Commissioner. “As a new regulator replacing very different state and territory arrangements, it is really important that we hear directly from people with disability about their experiences, as well as the people who represent their interests.”

Almost 80% of the complaints the NDIS Commission receives are from people with disability, a family member, friend or advocate.

The NDIS Commission delivers against a quality and safeguards framework agreed to by all state and territory governments in 2017. A key focus of the framework is to improve the way that NDIS providers manage serious incidents that could, or do, 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 the reporting period, the NDIS Commission received 311,040 reportable incidents. More than 97% of these reports relate to the use of an unauthorised restrictive practice on a person with disability.

The use of restrictive practices 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 for the participant.

The sheer volume of these reports highlights for the first time in Australia the nature of these practices and the scale. For the 4,327 people who are subjected to a practice that restricts their behaviour, it highlights how critical it is for:

  • providers to work closely with behaviour support practitioners to put in place positive behaviour supports arrangements that reduce the use of these practices, and
  • all state and territory governments to progress 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.

The NDIS Commission has a two-stage compliance action underway, targeting all providers who have used an unauthorised restrictive practice. The first phase is currently underway and is targeting providers in New South Wales and South Australia. The second phase will commence in October 2020 and will target providers in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

“It is imperative that state and territory governments apply a consistent approach to considering the authorisation of the use of restraints on people with disability,” said Mr Head. “The volume of these practices is deeply disturbing and unacceptable. Providers must review their practices to reduce the use of these practices. My focus is to promote the rights, choice and control of people with disability in every aspect of their lives by improving the practice around positive behaviour support.”

The activity report also describes the various functions of the NDIS Commission, including the exercising of compliance and enforcement powers to address breaches of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (the Act).

“The NDIS Commission is a new regulator in the disability sector. We have been operating for just over 2 years, and will be national from 1 December 2020. We have and will continue to act decisively where there is a risk to the safety of people with disability, and in instances where providers have not acted adequately to address that risk,” Mr Head said.

The NDIS Commission has issued 17 banning orders, is undertaking 168 investigations and has targeted 2,466 providers with proactive compliance activity designed to be corrective and educative. The NDIS Commission will take action in response to these compliance activities, as assessments take place on the willingness and capability of providers to meet their obligations.

“The NDIS market continues to evolve, with new providers applying regularly to enter and undertaking the rigorous process necessary to determine their suitability to deliver supports and services to people with disability. Good quality providers will deliver the choice and control that people with disability have the right to expect,” said Mr Head.

“My focus is on supporting people to speak up to the NDIS Commission when people with disability do not receive the supports and services they need, in the way that they require and deserve.”

Further information and statistics are in the activity report, which is available to view on the NDIS Commission website.