On Friday governments made a huge decision about how the NDIS will work for providers. They decided that the Federal Government will take over registering providers and assessing their compliance with national quality standards.
And even more than that – a new national, independent complaints system will be introduced alongside an NDIS Code of Conduct to allow participants to resolve grievances.
Creating a national framework for quality and safeguards and registration is a massive decision that will dramatically simplify the compliance burdens on providers, especially those operating in multiple jurisdictions.
For the past two years, governments have been talking to people with disability, families and service providers about how providers should be registered in the full NDIS, including who sets the registration requirements and quality standards.
State Disability Ministers agreed to hand over this role to the Federal Government once we get to full scheme in 2019. This makes sense given the NDIS is a national scheme, with a national roll out. This is likely to mean that there will be a single registration process for providers across Australia, with the same compliance requirements wherever they are providing services.
Will the national approach be a light touch compliance system that focuses on only the most critical requirements, or a burdensome approach that smothers innovation and new providers?
The devil is going to be in the detail on the national framework. Each state manages disability standards differently. No doubt, they all think that their framework is national best practice.
Participant complaints and serious incidents will also be managed nationally. A new independent system will have a Code of Conduct for the NDIS and allow participants to raise problems they have had with their NDIS service provider.
There is very little detail at this stage about what this will all look like in practice. The NDIA is unlikely to play a role in complaints because this will be done by an independent body. But whether the NDIA will undertake on provider registration and compliance checking against the standards is not yet clear.
The quality and safeguards piece of work is critical to the NDIS’ success. It will be the barrier to low quality providers coming into the NDIS market and the enabler for participants to have a way to air (and hopefully rectify) their complaints when providers perform poorly.
The two big pieces of the NDIS left to work out are this one on quality and safeguards and the approach to ILC (Information, Linkages and Capacity Building). Both have the potentially to make the NDIS work, or to completely hamstrung the Scheme.
DSC will be keeping an eye on both the quality and safeguards and the ILC. Stay tuned on this space.
You can read more about the consultations that occurred in early 2015, along with the submissions made to the review, here: https://engage.dss.gov.au/ndis-qsf/