Should NDIS workers be registered?  

by | Mar 12, 2024 | The Big Story

The NDIS Review decided those working in the scheme should be registered. Victoria already champions voluntary enrolment. Which model works best? 

Source: Disability Worker Registration Board of Victoria

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In 2016, after a number of disturbing reports of workers abusing People with Disability, the Victorian government decided to act. Sort of, anyway. 

It established a Disability Worker Regulation Scheme to regulate all disability workers in Victoria – as long as they want to register and manage to submit their application within a narrow window when the scheme is open. It’s a somewhat haphazard way of ensuring the “quality, safety, responsiveness and sustainability of the disability workforce”.

Nevertheless, at least Victoria is making some attempt to achieve this. Others don’t.

Although basic ‘working with vulnerable people’ checks are implemented, there is virtually no other form of accreditation for this critical workforce. Nor is there any simple nationally recognised way a worker can demonstrate their competency. The ballooning number of small providers within the NDIS means it’s pretty much a ‘come as you are’ scheme. 

Last year the NDIS Review suggested this wasn’t good enough. It recommended a new regulatory model and currently a taskforce, headed by disability lawyer Natalie Wade, is deciding how a new registration model might be implemented. The team is developing a “risk-proportionate model for the visibility and regulation of all providers” that will deal with quality and safeguard issues. They’re now calling for input from the community, workers and providers. 

The taskforce includes (former ACTU Assistant Secretary) Michael Borowick, Vicki O’Halloran (former head of National Disability Services), and Allan Fels (the former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). Before the end of the year they’ll be providing Bill Shorten with a new package of regulatory arrangements, including a Provider Risk Framework.

The Victorian experience demonstrates both the positives and many limits of a voluntary scheme. It works; sort of. It’s better than nothing, but the NDIS Review clearly felt there had to be a more effective way of registering both workers and providers. 

Implementing some sort of national code is vital. The only question is how to balance this critical and urgent need for accreditation with the current flexibility of an (effectively) unregulated system. 

If you want to make a submission, contact the Review Taskforce NDISRegistrationTaskforce@dss.gov.au

Further links:
Information for workers
Information about the taskforce