By Genevieve Waldie
New legislation has been introduced by the Queensland Government to ensure a nationally consistent worker screening system for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).
The new bill replaces existing worker screening provisions under the Disability Services Act 2006 (DSA), and aims to add further safeguards to protect people with disability.
Official figures show more than 310,000 Australians now have NDIS plans in place, with the scheme intended to support half a million Australians with significant and permanent disability by the completion of the implementation phase.
The NDIS has had many teething problems during its 5-year roll-out phase and the HDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency), that administers the NDIS, continues to face criticism on service provision issues and difficulty in access.
This is in addition to the accounts of abuse & neglect emerging from the Disability Royal Commission.
“This is about making sure the highest levels of safeguards apply and that we are assessing the history of those seeking to work with people with disability as thoroughly as possible,” Queensland Minister for Disability Services Coralee O’Rourke said.
Key changes to the legislation include strengthened identity requirements for workers, a framework to automatically disqualify people convicted of sexual offences and serious assault offences and to assess if workers pose an unacceptable risk of harm to people with disability.
The bill also provides greater powers to suspend a clearance if a worker has a change in their assessable information and the ability to consider a broader range of information as part of the NDIS check to assess a potential worker.
“The legislative amendments in this Bill will support the implementation of nationally-consistent worker screening for the first time ever. The new system for NDIS worker screening means clearances and exclusions will be recognised across all states and territories,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“The Bill will also enable ongoing monitoring of a screened worker’s criminal history at a national level. This means that if someone commits an offence in another state or territory, we will know about it and be able to take action to assess whether the person should be issued with an exclusion.”
“Ensuring that Queenslanders with disability are protected is our highest priority.”