An independent authority with broad ranging powers will be created next year to oversee the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme, the government announced in Tuesday’s budget.
The new NDIS Quality and Safety Commission will have national responsibility for implementing the scheme’s Quality and Safeguarding Framework, which was released in February.
The Budget allocated $209 million over four years to operate the body that will:
- monitor the safety of the scheme’s anticipated 460,000 participants
- register NDIS providers and monitor their compliance with national standards
- handle complaints and
- respond to reportable incidents such as abuse
- oversee and enforce a new national code of conduct for all workers, and
- issue penalties for breaches of the code
- have an education role to help eliminate restrictive practices in the industry such as the use of physical restraints.
The budget papers show that the independent body will have an annual budget of $56 million in 2020-21.
The new watchdog is slated to commence on 1 January 2018 and replace state-based regulatory systems as the NDIS becomes fully operational in each jurisdiction by 2020.
The national body will be headed by a commissioner and have a staff of 300, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said.
The new code of conduct for workers will cover all workers providing services under the NDIS, including to self-managing clients who directly employ their own staff.
Public consultation on the new code of conduct will begin within weeks, the government said.
The statutory commission will also work with state and territory governments to introduce a national approach to worker screening, which will take into account the risks posed by the services delivered.
In the aged care system, quality monitoring and the complaints handling are managed by separate agencies.
New workforce initiative
Also contained in the budget is a new aged care and disability jobs initiative, which will create regional and specialist coordinators to support providers to grow their workforces in areas of high demand.
The $33 million initiative over three years will be funded from within existing resources in the departments of health and social services.