On Friday last week, the Quality & Safeguarding Commission released the long awaited Quality & Safeguarding Rules. At the same time, they released the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Code of Conduct) Rules 2018 that nearly snuck by us as we tried to work through all the implications of the new rules as outlined in our articles below:
So, what are the Code of Conduct Rules?
The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is responsible for a range of functions under the National Quality and Safeguarding Framework including a National Code of Conduct for providers. The rules are intended to support participants to be informed purchasers and consumers of NDIS supports and services and to live free from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation.
Who is covered by the Code of Conduct?
The NDIS Code of Conduct applies to all providers of NDIS supports, regardless of whether they are registered. This can include workers who are paid or unpaid and includes people who are self-employed, employees, contractors, consultants and/or volunteers.
The good news is the list is not too long, but it will be interesting to see how the Commissioner uses its compliance powers to enforce the rules.
There are 7 minimum standards providers and workers must meet:
(a) act with respect for individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination and decision-making in accordance with applicable laws and conventions; and
(b) respect the privacy of people with disability; and
(c) provide supports and services in a safe and competent manner, with care and skill; and
(d) act with integrity, honesty and transparency; and
(e) promptly take steps to raise and act on concerns about matters that may impact the quality and safety of supports and services provided to people with disability; and
(f) take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against, and exploitation, neglect and abuse of, people with disability; and
(g) take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct
What does this mean for providers?
Along with the NDIS Practice Standards, the NDIS Code of Conduct is used by the Quality and Safeguarding Commission to provide education and build capacity, ensure compliance and also apply civil penalties. As a last resort, they may also ban workers or providers from operating in the NDIS market.
Breaches of the NDIS Code of Conduct can result in a civil penalty of up to 250 Penalty Points, which, at the current rate of around $210 per penalty point, is just over $50k. Hopefully, the Quality and Safeguarding Commissioner will not have to wield this big stick often.
Anyone can raise a complaint about potential breaches of the NDIS Code of Conduct, and the Quality and Safeguarding Commissioner can investigate the complaints.
NSW and SA are the first two states to come under the new NDIS Code of Conduct from 1 July 2018 and further guidance will hopefully be released shortly.