Worker screening requirements (NDIS registered providers)

Registered NDIS providers must ensure that key personnel and other workers in certain types of roles have a worker screening clearance that meets the requirements of the NDIS Practice Standards. This helps ensure that key personnel and workers in these roles do not pose an unacceptable risk to the safety and wellbeing of NDIS participants. Compliance with the NDIS Practice Standards is a condition of registration for all registered NDIS providers.

Worker screening is only one of a range of requirements that registered NDIS providers must comply with to minimise risk of harm to people with disability.

Registered NDIS providers delivering supports in participating jurisdictions

The NDIS Commission has been responsible for the registration of NDIS providers who deliver supports and services in New South Wales and South Australia since 1 July 2018. On 1 July 2019, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (the NDIS Commission) became responsible for the registration of NDIS providers delivering supports and services to participants in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria.

Requirements relating to worker screening form part of the NDIS Practice Standards. Registered NDIS providers in all states and territories (except, until 30 November 2020, for Western Australia) are required to comply with all of the relevant NDIS Practice Standards. The requirements relating to worker screening are set out in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards – Worker Screening) Rules 2018.

NDIS Worker Screening Check

On 1 February 2021, states and territories will start implementing new NDIS worker screening arrangements as part of a national approach to worker screening.

Once the new national worker screening arrangements have commenced, registered NDIS providers will be required to only engage workers who have an NDIS worker screening clearance in risk assessed roles. But states and territories have different arrangements for when a worker must apply for an NDIS Worker Screening Check. Registered NDIS providers should check the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards – Worker Screening) Rules 2018 for the transitional and special arrangements that apply in their state or territory to determine when their workers will need to have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance.

The transitional and special arrangements specify alternative checks and clearances that are acceptable pending the availability of the NDIS Worker Screening Check. At this stage there are no such arrangements for Western Australia because the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018 will not apply to providers in that state until 1 December 2020.

NDIS Worker Screening Database

The NDIS Worker Screening Database will support the NDIS Worker Screening Check. The NDIS Commission is responsible for establishing, operating and maintaining the database.

The database will:

  • have a register of cleared and excluded workers from all states and territories to enable national portability of clearances
  • support national ongoing monitoring of the conduct of workers with clearances
  • mean NDIS providers across the country can sponsor applications and check the clearances of prospective workers through the NDIS Worker Screening Database, without needing to contact individual state and territory worker screening units
  • help NDIS providers with record-keeping requirements

The NDIS Worker Screening Database will commence operation when the NDIS Worker Screening Check commences in a state or territory. NDIS providers and individuals will need to apply to the NDIS Commission to access information stored on the database. Information about how to access and use the NDIS Worker Screening Database will be available closer to commencement of its operation.

What checks do workers providing NDIS supports and services need?

Until the NDIS Worker Screening Check commences in a state or territory on 1 February 2021, registered NDIS providers providing supports and services to NDIS participants in that state or territory must ensure that they are complying with the relevant transitional and special arrangements. These are set out in Part 4 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018.

Under the transitional and special arrangements, a registered NDIS provider may allow a person to work in a risk assessed role in a state and territory if the person has a check or clearance that is acceptable under the arrangements for that state or territory. If a worker has an acceptable check in one state or territory, this is not portable to another state or territory. This means that workers of registered NDIS providers delivering services and supports to people with disability in a number of states or territories must have an acceptable check in each state or territory in which they work.

Visit our transitional and special arrangements webpage for more information about the arrangements for each state and territory.

Identifying a risk assessed role

Registered NDIS providers are responsible for identifying which roles are risk assessed roles, and ensuring all workers in these roles have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance or an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements.

A risk assessed role is:

  • a key personnel role of a person or an entity as defined in s 11A of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (for example, a CEO or a Board Member)
  • a role for which the normal duties include the direct delivery of specified supports or specified services to a person with disability
  • a role for which the normal duties are likely to require ‘more than incidental contact’ with people with disability, which includes:
    • physically touching a person with disability; or
    • building a rapport with a person with disability as an integral and ordinary part of the performance of normal duties; or
    • having contact with multiple people with disability as part of the direct delivery of a specialist disability support or service, or in a specialist disability accommodation setting.

For the purposes of determining whether the normal duties of a role will require more than incidental contact with a person with disability, contact includes physical contact, face-to-face contact, oral communication, written communication and electronic communication.

Registered NDIS providers will not be required to ensure that workers who do not work in risk assessed roles have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance or an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements. However, an NDIS provider or self-managed participant may, as a safety measure, choose to require a worker to have an NDIS worker screening clearance, or to have an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements, prior to engaging that worker in a role that is not a risk assessed role.

Example 1

Lee works for a mobility equipment company that is a registered NDIS provider and delivers mobility equipment to the homes of people with disability. As a standard part of that role, he provides training and instructions to the customer about how to use the equipment safely and makes adjustments to the equipment to make it suitable for the customer. The provider will have to ensure that Lee has an NDIS Worker Screening clearance (or an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements) because his role is likely to require more than incidental contact. This is because Lee has contact with people with disability and the nature of that contact (such as testing the person’s needs and preferences with them, talking about and responding to the nature of their disability) means that there is a level of openness and trust that is likely to lead Lee building rapport with his customers.

Example 2

Sue is an accountant who works in the back office of a registered NDIS provider that supplies custom prosthetics to people with disability. Sue often has coincidental contact with people with disability while she is moving through public areas of the business, such as when she walks through the lobby, at which time Sue nods and says hello to the customers. The provider does not have to ensure that Sue has an NDIS Worker Screening clearance (or an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements) because her role does not involve the direct delivery of custom prosthetics, and she is not required to have more than incidental contact with people with disability. This is because the duties of her role do not require her to have more than polite, functional contact with people with disability, or to get to know them in any way.

Record keeping requirements

Registered NDIS providers are required, for each risk assessed role, to document:

  • the title or other organisational identifier for the role
  • the paragraph or paragraphs of the definition of risk assessed role (as contained in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018) that applies to the role
  • a description of the role
  • the date the role was assessed and the name and title of the person who made the assessment.

When a new risk assessed role is identified, or an existing role is reclassified as a risk assessed role following a review, the written list of roles must be updated within 20 business days of the identification or review of the risk assessed role.

Registered NDIS providers must, for each worker in a risk assessed role, document:

  • the full name, date of birth and address of the person
  • the risk assessed role or roles in which the person engages
  • if the worker may engage in a risk assessed role without an NDIS worker screening clearance:
    • the basis on which they may do so (refer to sections below regarding the exemptions to the requirement for a worker to have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance)
    • the start and end date of the period in which the exemption that allows them to work in a risk engaged role applies
    • the name of the person who supervises the worker during this period
  • the worker’s NDIS Worker Screening Check application reference number
  • the worker’s NDIS Worker Screening Check outcome expiry date
  • whether the worker’s NDIS Worker Screening clearance is subject to any decision which has the effect that the registered NDIS provider may not allow the worker to engage in a risk assessed role, and the nature of any such decision (for example, interim bar, suspension, exclusion)
  • records relating to an interim bar, a suspension, an exclusion, or any action taken by the provider in relation to these kinds of decisions in relation to any worker.
  • allegations of misconduct against a worker with a check and the action taken by the registered NDIS provider in response to that allegation

It is important these lists are kept up to date. A record must be kept for seven years from the date the record was made. Records should be kept in an organised, accessible and legible manner. It is important that the registered NDIS provider keeps records in a way that would allow the NDIS Commission or a quality auditor to know which workers were engaged in a risk assessed role on any given day in the past seven years.

Engaging contractors

Once NDIS Worker Screening Checks commence, there will be additional responsibilities and obligations for registered NDIS providers who engage another organisation or individual to perform work on their premises or otherwise as part of their provision of supports and services in the NDIS. The organisation or individual will be a contractor engaged by the registered NDIS provider. The registered NDIS provider and the contractor need to work together to ensure that any workers of a contractor, including an individual contractor themselves, have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance.

Exceptions

A registered NDIS provider may engage a person in a risk assessed role who does not have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance if the registered NDIS provider is subject to the transitional and special arrangements and the registered NDIS provider is complying with those arrangements. The requirements will differ between states and territories so registered NDIS providers should ensure that they are aware of the requirements that apply in the state and/or territory in which they provide supports and services. Visit our transitional and special arrangements webpage for more information about the arrangements for each state and territory.

A registered NDIS provider can also allow secondary school students on a formal work experience placement to engage in risk assessed roles without having an NDIS Worker Screening clearance or an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements, provided the students are directly supervised by another worker who has an NDIS Worker Screening clearance or acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements.

Example 3

Cassie is a high school student who wants to be a physiotherapist. She is doing work experience at a physiotherapy clinic that works with NDIS participants and is run by a registered NDIS provider that. She is being supervised by Isaac, who has an NDIS Worker Screening clearance.

Isaac calls in sick one day and no one else with an NDIS Worker Screening clearance is available to supervise Cassie.

Cassie is allocated to other duties at the clinic that do not involve more than incidental contact with people with disability until a supervisor with an NDIS Worker Screening clearance becomes available, or Isaac returns to work.

In some circumstances, a registered NDIS provider may engage a person in a risk assessed role while that person is in the process of obtaining an NDIS Worker Screening clearance. This is discussed further below.

Engaging a worker before they have an NDIS Worker Screening clearance

Depending on the laws in each state or territory, in certain circumstances a registered NDIS provider may allow a worker to begin working in a risk assessed role once they have submitted an application for an NDIS Worker Screening Check, provided the worker is ‘in the process of obtaining a clearance’ as defined by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018.

In these circumstances, the registered NDIS provider must ensure that the worker is appropriately supervised by a person with an NDIS worker screening clearance and implement a risk management plan in line with the requirements in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018.

Registered NDIS providers should check the requirements in each state and territory in which they deliver NDIS supports and services, as some states and territories do not permit a worker to commence employment until they hold an NDIS worker screening clearance.

Engaging a worker before they have an acceptable check under the transitional and special arrangements

Depending on the laws in each state or territory, in certain circumstances a registered NDIS provider may allow a worker to begin working in a risk assessed role once they have submitted an application for an acceptable check under transitional or special arrangements.

Visit our transitional and special arrangements webpage for more information about the arrangements for each state and territory. Registered NDIS providers and workers should contact their state or territory worker screening department for further information