Statement: NDIS Commission releases 6-month activity report for July – December 2020

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) has today published its 6-month activity report that covers the period from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020 for all states and territories excluding Western Australia. The NDIS Commission commenced operations in Western Australia, thus becoming a national regulator from 1 December 2020. For this report figures for WA are only included in participant numbers and provider registration data.

The activity report provides a further six months of data on all aspects of the NDIS Commission’s operations. “Each activity report helps us to focus our work at the NDIS Commission as the national regulatory agency, and provides feedback as we continue to embed the national quality and safeguarding framework,” said Mr Graeme Head, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner.

In the 6-month period, the NDIS Commission received 3,731 complaints about supports and services in the NDIS. Almost three-quarters (74%) of these complaints were received from people with disability, a family member, friend or advocate.

“Complaints continue to be important in responding to issues for participants and in improving and monitoring the quality and safety of supports to people with disability in the NDIS,” said Mr Head. “People with disability, as well as the people who represent their interests, are key voices we all need to hear from. Everyone has the right to raise complaints about services people with disability receive. We want to hear them.”

The NDIS Commission delivers against a quality and safeguarding 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 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 451,550 reportable incidents. Almost 99% of these reports related to the use of an unauthorised restrictive practice (URP) on a person with disability.

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. A behaviour support plan must be developed in accordance with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Restrictive Practices and Behaviour Support) Rules 2018, and should also be in accordance with any state or territory requirements. Providers must report every instance of a restrictive practice, including each individual use, until a behaviour support plan is lodged.

The report continues to highlight the importance of:

  • providers and behaviour support practitioners working closely to put in place positive behaviour supports arrangements that reduce the use of these practices
  • 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.

The number of participants subject to URPs in FY 2019-2020 was 4,327. This represented 1.2% of participants in all states and territories except Western Australia over that period. 3, 652 participants were subject to URPs for this reporting period, representing 0.9% of these participants.  “The primary driver for the increase in reports of URPs is improved provider compliance with reporting obligations,“ said Mr Head.

With Residential Aged Care providers supporting NDIS participants and significant numbers of state supported services coming under the NDIS Commission’s scope, the NDIS Commission expects the number of participants subject to URPs to increase in our next activity report.

As a result of increased reporting of URPs, the NDIS Commission initiated significant compliance activity with 510 providers who reported the use of an URP over the period July 2019 to September 2020. The NDIS Commission has conducted 231 assessments of providers in New South Wales and South Australia, with compliance action taken against 50 providers to date.

The report also describes the NDIS Commission’s various functions, including exercising compliance and enforcement powers to address breaches of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (NDIS Act).  In this reporting period, the NDIS Commission issued 11 banning orders and 10 infringement notices, and is undertaking 246 investigations. To date, the NDIS Commission has targeted 2,620 providers with proactive compliance activity designed to be corrective and educative.

“We have and will continue to act decisively where there is a risk to the safety of NDIS participants, and in instances where providers have not acted adequately to address that risk,” Mr Head said.

During this reporting period, one of the priorities of the NDIS Commission has been our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included deploying tools and resources to ensure that: NDIS participant safety is paramount; critical supports are maintained; disruption and loss of continuity of supports is minimised; changes in the NDIS market are monitored and the short and long-term impacts on providers are properly considered. As at 31 December, there were zero active participant cases.

The transition of Western Australia on 1 December completed the national rollout of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework for every NDIS participant in all states and territories across Australia. The completion of the rollout means that:

  • the NDIS Commission now delivers a nation-wide approach to consistently protecting and improving the rights, health and wellbeing of every participant under the NDIS.
  • the NDIS Code of Conduct now applies to all NDIS providers and workers across the country.
  • registered providers across every state and territory in Australia must adhere to NDIS Practice Standards, report certain instances and restrictive practices, as well as establish an effective complaints system.

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