Worker screening requirements (NDIS registered providers)

Registered NDIS providers must ensure that particular workers have an appropriate check as a mandatory requirement of NDIS provider registration. This guarantees that key personnel and workers in roles delivering specified NDIS supports or specified NDIS services, or with more than incidental contact with people with disability, do not pose an unacceptable risk to the safety and wellbeing of NDIS participants.

Worker screening is only one of a range of strategies registered NDIS providers need to put in place to identify and minimise risk of harm to people with disability. Registered NDIS providers must also actively promote a culture that does not tolerate abuse, neglect or exploitation, and focuses on continuous upskilling, education and training for workers.

Providers delivering supports in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria

From 1 July 2019, the NDIS Commission is now responsible for the registration of NDIS providers delivering supports and services to participants in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, and Victoria. Registered NDIS providers who deliver NDIS supports and services New South Wales and South Australia have been required to meet the NDIS Commission’s requirements since 1 July 2018.

Registered NDIS providers in all states and territories (except for Western Australia) have responsibilities and obligations in relation to screening their workers under the NDIS Commission. These are set out in the NDIS (Practice Standards – Worker Screening) Rules 2018.

Identifying which roles and jobs need a check

Registered NDIS providers are responsible for identifying which roles and jobs need a check, and ensuring all workers in a risk-assessed role have an appropriate check. These roles are outlined below.

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

  • the reasons why the role is a risk assessed role
  • the date the role was assessed and the name and title of the person who made the assessment

Ensuring all workers in risk-assessed roles have an appropriate check

Engaging workers that do not have an appropriate check in risk assessed roles could be a breach of the registration conditions of registered NDIS providers. It may also be an offence under state and territory legislation for workers to work without a check if their role requires one.

Risk assessed roles are:

  • key personnel roles
  • roles for which the normal duties include the direct delivery of specified supports or specified services to a person with disability
  • roles for which the normal duties are likely to require more than incidental contact with people with disability.  Contact includes physical contact, face-to-face contact, oral communication, written communication and electronic communication.

This may be different to the requirements previously set by state or territory governments to allow people to work in the NDIS. This means it is important registered NDIS providers assess each role in their organisation against the new requirements, to identify which roles require worker screening, and to keep and maintain a written list of risk assessed roles and workers undertaking these roles.

The normal duties of a role are likely to require more than incidental contact with a person with a disability if those duties include:

  • 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 those 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.

Workers who do not have more than incidental contact with people with disability as a normal part of their jobs—such as administrative support staff—will not be required by the NDIS Commission to have a check, but you may choose to have those workers screened.

Example 1

Lee works for a mobility equipment company 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. Lee needs to have a check 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 business 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. Sue does not need to go through worker screening 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 get to know them in any way.

 

Exemptions

Secondary school students on a formal work experience placement with a registered NDIS provider do not need to go through a check to work with people with disability in the NDIS, provided they are directly supervised by another worker who has a check.

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. She is being supervised by Isaac, who has the right check for workers delivering NDIS supports and services in his state.

Isaac calls in sick one day, and there is no one else with a check 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 a check becomes available, or Isaac returns to work.

 

Engaging contractors

There are additional responsibilities and obligations for registered NDIS providers who engage another organisation (a contractor) to perform work on their premises or otherwise as part of their provision of supports and services in the NDIS. This is because the registered NDIS provider and the contractor need to work together to ensure the workers of a contractor are appropriately screened.

Registered NDIS providers must:

  • identify to the contractor each risk assessed role that the worker of the contractor engages in
  • take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the worker of the contractor has a check or an acceptable state-based check during the transition period
  • make sure the contract with the contractor requires them to:
    • only allow a worker who has a check or is subject to an exemption to work in a risk assessed role
    • only allow someone to work in a risk assessed role if the contractor is allowed to share information with the registered NDIS provider about any matter relating to whether that person be engaged in a risk assessed role, such as whether they are subject to an interim bar, suspension, or exclusion
    • cooperate with any reasonable request to assist the registered NDIS provider in investigating a complaint or a reportable incident involving their worker who is engaged a risk assessed role
    • cooperate with any reasonable request from the registered NDIS provider for information relating to whether and how it is complying with its obligations under the contract
    • impose these obligations on any other party with whom the contractor enters into an arrangement involving or allowing for the provision of services by another worker to the registered NDIS provider.

The NDIS Commission may require the registered NDIS provider to provide information or records provided by the contractor demonstrating these requirements.

Engaging someone to work before they have a Check

Depending on the laws in each state or territory, an NDIS worker may begin working in a risk assessed role once they have submitted an application for an acceptable state-based check during the transition period. Registered NDIS providers should check the these requirements in each state and territory in which they deliver NDIS supports and services, as some states and territories do not permit an NDIS worker to commence employment until they hold the appropriate check.

If the laws of the state or territory permit registered NDIS providers to engage a worker in a risk assessed role after submitting an application and before a check has been issued, and the registered NDIS provider engages someone before a final decision has been made about their check, the registered NDIS provider must have appropriate safeguards in place.  These include:

  • developing a written risk management plan for safeguarding people with disability while a worker is in the process of obtaining a check
  • checking that there are no circumstances that would prevent the person from working with people with disability, such as being subject to an interim bar or that their application has been closed or withdrawn
  • checking that the person was not excluded or their check revoked on the most recent occasion that they were assessed
  • arranging for the person to be supervised by someone who has a check
  • sighting a notice from the relevant check agency confirming that an application has been made and keeping a record of the application number.

Record keeping

Registered NDIS providers are required to maintain a written list of all workers who engage in risk assessed roles. 

The list needs to include:

  • the name, date of birth and address of the worker
  • the risk assessed role in which the worker engages
  • whether or not the worker is eligible for an exemption, the start and end date of the exemption and the name of the worker’s supervisor during this period
  • the worker’s application number or check number and outcome expiry date
  • records relating to an interim bar, suspension, exclusion or any action taken by the registered NDIS provider in relation to those decisions
  • 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. Records 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 allows 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.

What checks do workers providing NDIS supports and services need?

Until the NDIS Worker Screening Check starts in your state or territory, registered NDIS providers providing supports and services to NDIS participants must ensure their workers in risk-assessed positions meet the acceptable check requirements in the state or territory in which the worker is operating. These interim checks are not portable. This means that workers of registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS services and supports to people with disability must have an acceptable check in each state and/or territory in which they work.

Acceptable checks in New South Wales

For registered NDIS providers delivering supports and services in in New South Wales, any worker engaged in a risk assessed role must have:

  • a criminal record check done before 1 July 2018 and within the past four years showing the person did not have a conviction for a prescribed criminal offence, or
  • a criminal record check done between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2020 (or the date that a notice is made that the NDIS Worker Screening Unit is operational in NSW) and within the past two years showing the person did not have a conviction for a prescribed criminal offence, or
  • a current New South Wales Working with Children Check for those providing services to children in the NDIS that has been obtained before or during the transition period. There are a range of organisations providing criminal record checking services, and registered NDIS providers can choose how to obtain a criminal record check. Individuals can also apply for their own criminal record check through the New South Wales Police Force.

Registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS supports and services in NSW will need to register with the New South Wales Office of the Children’s Guardian to verify the status of a worker’s Working with Children Check or the status of their application for a Working with Children Check online. More information about the New South Wales Working with Children Check, including information about who is eligible and how to apply, can be found at the New South Wales Office of the Children’s Guardian.

Acceptable checks in South Australia

For registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS supports and services in South Australia, from 1 July 2018 any worker engaged in a risk assessed role must have:

  • Department of Human Services Disability Services Employment Screening check;
  • Department of Human Services Child-related Employment Screening check issued before 1 July 2019;
  • Until they expire (three years from date of issue), or are revoked.

Any new worker delivering NDIS supports or services in South Australia who requires a check, or whose existing check expires after 1 July 2019, will need to obtain a Department of Human Services Disability Services Employment Screening check, until the NDIS Worker Screening Check is in place. A Working with Children Check is not an acceptable check for the purposes of providing NDIS services and supports.

More information can be found on the South Australian Department of Human Services Screening Unit website.

Acceptable Checks in Victoria

All registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS services and supports in Victoria must have reference to Safety Screening Policy for registered NDIS providers operating in Victoria (Safety Screening Policy).

  • Workers employed or otherwise engaged by a registered NDIS provider in specified roles at 30 June 2019, and who have a valid check under Victoria’s state-based worker screening policies, are considered cleared to work under the interim worker screening policy.
  • Registered NDIS providers operating in Victoria are required to conduct the following checks for new workers:

When the transition period ends, workers delivering NDIS supports and services, whose registered NDIS provider employer was compliant with the screening requirements set out in the Safety Screening Policy during the transition period, have six months following the transition period to obtain a clearance, or to commence the process for obtaining a clearance.

A worker delivering NDIS supports and services may also continue to work in a risk assessed role when the transition period ends if they have a current Working With Children Check that was issued before the end of the transition period, they are currently compliant with the Safety Screening Policy, and their registered NDIS provider employer was compliant with the Safety Screening Policy during the transition period.

Acceptable Checks in Queensland

For registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS supports and services in Queensland, from 1 July 2019 any worker engaged in a risk assessed role must meet the following requirements:

If workers in risk-assessed roles hold a check before the end of the transition period that already meets these requirements, the check is recognised until the check expires.

Acceptable Checks in Tasmania

For registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS supports and services in Tasmania, from 1 July 2019 any worker engaged in a risk assessed role must meet the following requirements:

After the transition period, workers in risk-assessed roles that met these requirements during the transition period may continue to work in the role for three years, or until the registration expires – whichever is sooner.

Acceptable Checks in the Australian Capital Territory

For registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS supports and services in the Australian Capital Territory, from 1 July 2019 any worker engaged in a risk assessed role must meet the following requirements:

After the transition period, workers in risk-assessed roles that during the transition period met the requirements as described above, may continue to work in the role for three years or until the check expires – whichever is sooner.

Acceptable Checks in the Northern Territory

For registered NDIS providers delivering NDIS supports and services in the Northern Territory, from 1 July 2019 any worker engaged in a risk assessed role must meet the following requirements:

After the transition period, workers in risk-assessed roles that met these requirements during the transition period, may continue to work in the role for two years, or until the check expires – whichever is sooner.

NDIS Worker Screening Check

States and territories will soon start implementing new worker screening arrangements as part of a national approach. Once fully implemented, the NDIS Worker Screening Check will enable a screened worker to deliver services and supports in any state or territory. This will reduce paperwork for workers and employers and increase safety for participants.

When new national worker screening arrangements commence in each state and territory, workers will be required to seek a new NDIS worker clearance, when their existing check expires.

Until the NDIS National Worker Screening Check is launched, registered NDIS providers in all states and territories except Western Australia must be familiar with arrangements for worker screening or police checks in the relevant state or territory in which they operate. This means if registered NDIS providers have new workers in risk-assessed positions who have no check, or workers whose check has expired, they must have them screened in accordance with the interim screening arrangements in the state or territory until further notice.

NDIS Worker Screening Database

The NDIS Commission is working with state and territory governments to develop an NDIS Worker Screening Database to support the NDIS Worker Screening Check.

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 criminal history records of workers with clearances
  • mean NDIS providers across the country can go to one place to sponsor applications and verify the clearances of prospective workers, without needing to contact individual states and territories’ worker screening units
  • help NDIS providers with record-keeping requirements.

The NDIS Worker Screening Database will commence operation as the NDIS Worker Screening Check is rolled out in each state and territory. Information about how to access and use the NDIS Worker Screening Database will be available closer to release.