Quality Assurance and Safeguards Working Arrangements for the Launch of the NDIS in Victoria

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1 Quality Assurance and Safeguards Working Arrangements for the Launch of the NDIS in Victoria As agreed between the Commonwealth of Australia and Victoria As at 6 May

2 Contents 1. Background Guiding Principles Launch Site Specific Considerations Service Provider Requirements Existing arrangements for Victorian disability service providers Victorian Disability Service Providers Commonwealth Funded Disability Services Arrangements for other existing providers Arrangements for other new providers during launch Activities to implement this arrangement Incident Management and Reporting and Complaints Management Existing Arrangements Victoria Existing Arrangements - Commonwealth Arrangements during Launch Quality Frameworks Existing Arrangements Arrangements during Launch Child Protection Existing Arrangements Arrangements during Launch Consumer Protection Restrictive Practices Existing Arrangements Arrangements during Launch External Accountability Arrangements Implementation of these Working Arrangements... 14

3 1. Background Part 3 of the NDIS Bill requires certain service providers to be registered with the Launch Transition Agency (the Agency). Part 3 of the NDIS Bill provides that the NDIS rules may make provision in connection with the approval of persons or entities as registered providers of supports, including by prescribing criteria relating to: A. Compliance with prescribed safeguards; and B. Compliance with prescribed quality assurance standards and procedures With regard to compliance with prescribed safeguards and quality assurance standards and procedures, the agreed policy intent is reflected in Clause 15 of the Bilateral Agreement between Victoria and the Commonwealth dated 7 December 2012, which states that for launch: The existing Victorian quality assurance and safeguards framework as set out in Appendix C will apply in the Barwon launch site as it applies to the relevant new and existing funded client support programs for the launch. Victoria will continue its existing approach to the quality assurance of Victorian service providers subject to legislative and contractual arrangements. Victoria will identify details of the existing client support programs in the Barwon launch site and provide this information held by departments to the Agency for the purposes of registering providers. Effective working arrangements between Victoria and the Agency to ensure appropriate management and monitoring against these quality assurance frameworks will be developed and agreed by mid-february This Schedule acknowledges and sets out the agreed working arrangements between Victoria and the Agency to ensure appropriate management and monitoring against the existing Victorian quality assurance and safeguards framework identified in Appendix C of the Bilateral Agreement. 2. Guiding Principles The Agency is working to ensure high quality services for people with disability in a choice and control environment. The Agency will ensure that processes for disability service providers in interacting with the Agency are not overly arduous but that they do ensure appropriate standards for individuals particularly where risk for the individual is identified. 3. Launch Site Specific Considerations Clause 4b of the Bilateral Agreement provides for a commitment that: There will be no diminution of Victoria s quality assurance system and safeguards. 3

4 Accordingly, the following arrangements have been agreed to ensure that the strengths of the existing systems are recognised and that there is evidence of a consistent framework and requirements for providers in their dealings with the Agency. 4. Service Provider Requirements The Victorian government has confirmed that the arrangements documented in Appendix C of the Bilateral Agreement identified by the Victorian government apply to service providers involved in the delivery of the existing Victorian client support programs detailed below: Disability services Early childhood intervention services Home and community care services Psychiatric Disability Rehabilitation and Support Services Transport services The Agency will contact the Victorian government departments providing the above client support programs and will develop working arrangements for launch and where required will develop MoUs. 4.1 Existing arrangements for Victorian disability service providers In this document, reference to Victorian disability service providers is intended to have the same meaning as in the Disability Act 2006 (Victoria). The Act defines a disability service to mean a service specifically for the support of persons with a disability which is provided by a disability service provider. The latter is defined to mean an entity registered as a disability service provider under the Act or the Secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS), and as such also covers DHS in its capacity as a direct provider of disability services. Registration is required in Victoria for entities that have a service agreement with the DHS to deliver disability services. Entities that apply for registration are required to demonstrate their capacity to deliver services in compliance with the Disability Act, including gazetted standards. Registration and renewal of registration is for a period of three years, unless revoked earlier. In addition, disability service providers in Victoria are required to comply with a range of operational policies through their service agreements. For example, service agreements with the DHS include: Critical client incident management and reporting requirements Reporting allegations of physical and sexual assault to the police Fire safety requirements Adverse events management guidelines 4

5 In considering registration requirements for disability service providers that provide services equivalent to Victoria s existing disability client support programs, the Agency will determine if the service provider is an existing Victorian disability service provider, an existing Commonwealth service provider, or a new service provider. 4.2 Victorian Disability Service Providers Arrangements for existing Victorian disability service providers during launch Victorian disability service providers providing services to NDIS participants in the Barwon launch will continue to be subject to the Disability Act 2006 (Victoria) and DHS operational policy. Those who are registered with DHS will be required to maintain registration with DHS for the duration of the launch and this will be recognised for the purposes of registration with the NDIS. NDIS will recognise registration with DHS as meeting most of the requirements for registration with NDIS that are set out in Part 3 of the NDIS Rules- Rules for registered providers of supports. Existing Victorian disability service providers delivering supports to NDIS participants will register with NDIS by completing an abridged Application Form giving ABN and Bank details and agreeing to the Agency s Terms of Business Arrangements for existing Victorian Disability Service Providers to expand service provision during launch Disability service providers registered with DHS who add a service activity or service site to their registration need to inform DHS of these changes. This will expand the extent of the External Review against the DHS Standards. DHS will then advise the Agency of any changes to a provider s service activity or service site New Victorian disability support service providers It is expected that the NDIS will attract new providers currently not registered under the existing state arrangements. The following arrangements have been agreed to ensure that these new providers meet the standards required of the Victorian government and those envisaged by the NDIS Bill. The NDIS will advise new disability service providers to apply to the Secretary of DHS for registration under the Disability Act 2006 (Victoria). Using her power under this Act, and where appropriate, the Secretary will grant registration in accordance with the Act and will specify as a condition of registration that the provider must meet all of DHS current requirements of disability service providers, including those that exist under existing DHS operational policies Once the provider obtains Victorian registration, the provider will then need to confirm registration with the NDIS by completing the abridged Application Form to NDIS, giving ABN and Bank details and agreeing to the Agency s Terms of Business. 5

6 4.3 Commonwealth Funded Disability Services Arrangements for existing providers of Commonwealth funded services during launch Existing Commonwealth disability services registration and funding arrangements will be recognised by the Agency. These providers will continue to comply with the existing quality and safeguards arrangements (including complaints mechanisms, up to the Commonwealth Ombudsman at the highest level) under the Disability Services Act 1986 (Commonwealth) Arrangements for new providers of existing Commonwealth funded services during launch As above Arrangements for existing Commonwealth funded services to expand their services If current Commonwealth funded providers intend to expand support types they will need to apply directly to the NDIS and meet the Commonwealth s registration requirements. 4.4 Arrangements for other existing providers The LTA will enter into MOUs or some other arrangements with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Department of Health and other Victorian departments, as applicable, to ensure that all existing and relevant non disability quality and safeguards requirements remain in place for the launch and that processes to coordinate the timely sharing of complaints and serious incidents, as required, are in place. 4.5 Arrangements for other new providers during launch It is expected that the NDIS will attract new providers currently not registered under the existing state or Commonwealth arrangements and the following arrangements have been agreed. New providers not covered by support types that meet DHS registration requirements (or who are not covered under a MoU with another Victorian government department) can register directly with NDIS. The NDIS Bill (2012) sets out process for registration for providers. The Bill requires that the CEO be satisfied that an applicant meets criteria prescribed by the rules. For registration with the NDIS, providers: Have an ABN Have an account with a financial institution Agree to be bound by the Agency s Terms of Business Comply with work health and safety laws 6

7 Have mechanisms to ensure applicant and staff compliance with laws that are subject to criminal penalties, as they relate to the provision of, or management of, funding of supports Are suitable entities to provide the kinds of supports, or to manage funding of supports given their qualifications, approvals, capacity and experience 4.6 Activities to implement this arrangement To ensure that service providers understand how the launch arrangements will work, the following arrangements have been agreed: DHS and the LTA will jointly write to all current Victorian registered disability service providers in the launch location to advise that the organisation s registration for disability service delivery in Victoria will also constitute registration for the NDIS. The service provider will then need to confirm registration with NDIS, by completing the abridged Application Form giving ABN and Bank details and agreeing to the Agency s terms of Business. The LTA will write to relevant Commonwealth funded services providers, to advise that their registration to deliver these services will constitute registration for the NDIS. The service provider will then need to confirm registration with the NDIS; by completing the abridged Application Form, giving ABN and bank account details to the Agency and agreeing to the Agency s terms of Business. The NDIS will publish a list of NDIS registered providers in Barwon launch site Information will be prepared for providers by the LTA and DHS detailing reporting requirements for providers, in particular that all notifiable incidents and reports made by Victorian registered disability service providers continue to DHS and these will constitute a notification by those providers to the Agency as required by Part 4 of the NDIS Rule for Registered Providers. 5. Incident Management and Reporting and Complaints Management 5.1 Existing Arrangements Victoria The Disability Act 2006 (Victoria) requires all disability service providers to establish and operate a complaints system to receive and resolve complaints about the services they provide. The Act provides for an independent and accessible process for dealing with complaints about disability services through the appointment of a Disability Services Commissioner. The functions of the Disability Services Commissioner include the investigation and conciliation of complaints relating to disability services, review and identification of the causes of complaints and an annual report to Parliament. 7

8 The DHS has processes for the reporting and managing of serious incidents that involve or impact on clients. These requirements are detailed in the DHS Critical Client Incident Management Instruction It is expected that all Victorian disability service providers will continue to follow these procedures through launch. In addition to the Disability Act 2006 (Victoria) for Victorian disability service providers, and the Disability Services Act 1985 (Commonwealth) for Commonwealth funded providers, launch providers are subject to quality and safeguards regimes established in other Victorian legislation as outlined in Appendix C of the Bilateral Agreement. All such legislation will continue to apply during the launch in the usual way. In some instances, non-disability service providers have safeguard obligations that are embedded in operational policy only. For example, Victorian early childhood providers are required by their service agreement with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) to report issues of concern (suspected neglect or abuse) to DEECD. Another example is that agencies funded to provide certain health services, such as Psychiatric Disability Rehabilitation and Support Services (PDRSS) and Home and community care (HACC) services, are required as part of their service agreement with the Department of Health to comply with the Department of Health Incident Reporting Instruction 2010, available at Existing Arrangements - Commonwealth Throughout the different Commonwealth programs service providers are required to have an effective Complaints Management system and complaints handling procedures in place. If matters are not able to be resolved complaints can be forwarded to the relevant department for further investigation. The Commonwealth also funds the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service (CRRS). Supported employees/participants who are not satisfied with their service provider's internal complaints and disputes mechanisms can contact the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service. The CRRS operates a free call hotline, which is run in conjunction with the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline. The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Helpline - is a telephone service for reporting cases of neglect and abuse of people with disability in the community. If a caller reports abuse or neglect the in any situation, the Hotline will refer the report to an agency able to investigate or otherwise address the report, such as an ombudsman or complaints-handling body. The Hotline provides support to callers on how a complaint about abuse and neglect might be raised and resolved at the local level. The various Commonwealth disability service complaints processes that are in place will operate through launch. The Complaints Resolution and Referral Service and the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Helpline will continue to operate through launch and complaints or incidents concerning LTA staff can be directed through these services. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the actions and decisions of Australian Government agencies actions and decisions to see if they are wrong, unjust, unlawful, discriminatory or unfair. The Ombudsman also seeks remedies for those affected by administrative deficiencies, and acts to improve public administration. 8

9 The Ombudsman has strong investigatory powers. If required, officers working in government agencies must produce documents, and answer questions under oath during Ombudsman investigations. 5.3 Arrangements during Launch LTA Complaints Management and Serious Incident Management and Reporting processes During launch the LTA will have a complaints management system for: Participants, providers or the wider community to lodge concerns about Agency staff Participants or others to lodge concerns about providers registered with the NDIS (excluding Victorian disability service providers as these providers will be covered by the Victorian complaints machinery and where applicable, service providers covered by an MOU/other arrangement between the LTA and a Victorian government department, as referred to in section 4.4) The NDIS complaints management system will draw upon best practice in complaints management such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman s Better practice guide to complaint handling. The Agency will: Receive complaints about the LTA or supports provided through the NDIS directly or through the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service Use data from the complaints and review process to examine policy and practices to improve the delivery of the scheme Report on the nature of these complaints and the changes made in response to these processes in the Agency annual report and other reports agreed under the Integrated Performance Reporting Framework The LTA will have serious incident reporting procedures for providers (excluding Victorian disability service providers as these providers will be subject to DHS serious/critical incident reporting procedures) to ensure that affected participants are supported in a timely and effective manner and that these incidents are investigated thoroughly Reports of serious incidents can also be made through the National Disability and Abuse and Neglect Hotline The LTA will establish arrangements for all-hours crisis service provision to ensure that participants needs will be managed in line with the supports agreed in participants plans or determined as a result of incident investigation and resolution. The Commonwealth Ombudsman is the external complaints mechanism for Commonwealth government agencies. Complaints against the LTA can be directed to the Commonwealth Ombudsman who has the power to investigate complaints 9

10 5.3.2 Coordination of NDIS and other existing Victorian government processes During the launch the Agency will work in conjunction with other existing Commonwealth and State Government complaints management and incident management systems to provide an integrated approach for participants. In relation to DHS, the process will allow for: The timely sharing of information about complaints and serious/critical client incidents between the LTA and DHS including the outcomes of investigations into these complaints and incidents Complaints and serious incidents raised with the NDIS with respect to the provision of disability supports provided by Victorian disability service providers will be referred to DHS. If the serious incident requires urgent supports, the NDIS will address these needs through crisis responses and/or time-limited additional resources in order to, at a minimum, maintain continuity of the supports agreed in participants plans, as well as provide any additional supports as required. Complaints and serious incidents concerning NDIS direct service staff or NDIS registered providers that are not registered by DHS and are therefore not covered by the state complaints management scheme and/or incident management and reporting processes will be managed by the LTA DHS will investigate serious/critical incidents concerning Victorian disability service providers and will work with the LTA to ensure that affected participants are supported in a timely and effective manner and that these incidents are investigated thoroughly. The LTA will provide information on the role of the Disability Services Commissioner to ensure that participants of the NDIS are aware of this avenue for resolution of complaints against Victorian disability service providers. (Note Victorian disability service providers are also obliged to advise clients of their rights to complain to the Disability Services Commissioner). In relation to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Department of Health and other Victorian government departments, arrangements for the coordination of the existing complaints and serious/critical incident reporting and management processes of those departments with LTA processes will be detailed in the MOUs or other arrangements between the LTA and those departments referred to in section Sharing of complaints and serious incidents The LTA and DHS will work together to resolve complaints and incidents promptly and collaboratively. This will include immediate contact and action if required to ensure continuity of participants supports and regular meetings between the LTA and DHS and other Victorian departments as required will occur to share feedback on outcomes of complaints and serious incidents within the launch site. This will ensure that complaints and incidents are resolved 10

11 effectively and information shared between DHS (and other Victorian governments, as required) and LTA to facilitate continual improvement in service delivery in the launch, and to provide DHS (and other Victorian government departments, as required) with information on service providers that may be working in other areas as well as in Barwon. 6. Quality Frameworks 6.1 Existing Arrangements The Disability Act 2006 (Victoria) requires the Minister to determine standards to be met in the provision of services and supports under the Act. These may be in relation, but not limited to: service delivery, support plans, complaints and information management and privacy and confidentiality. DHS integrated its current program standards and independent reviews into one approach, known as the Department of Human Services Standards. It is understood that these standards will be mapped to the revised National Standards for Disability Services. Victorian disability service providers are required to meet the DHS Standards. Service providers in scope for independent review need to: Demonstrate compliance with the DHS Standards and the governance and management standards of an approved review body. To be independently reviewed by a department-endorsed independent review body once in every three years. Gain and maintain their accreditation/certification with their independent body. Victorian HACC funded organisations are independently reviewed triennially to ensure that they are complying with the Community Common Standards, and other HACC program requirements (such as the National HACC Complaints Policy) and Department of Health requirements (such as incident reporting requirements). The Agency will work with Commonwealth government programs to recognise their current quality assurance arrangements and ensure that these arrangements remain in place during the launch. Examples of these quality assurance arrangements are the Commonwealth Disability Enterprises and Employment Services are required to have a quality assurance system in place and undertake independent assessment to certify they comply with the Disability Service Standards. 6.2 Arrangements during Launch It has been agreed that the existing Victorian quality assurance and safeguards framework will continue to apply in the Barwon launch site and will apply to relevant new funded participant support programs for the launch. 11

12 Existing DHS services and DHS funded services will need to continue to demonstrate their compliance with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Standards and gain and maintain their accreditation/ certification with their independent review body. New providers to the NDIS who are not DHS funded service providers who are offering similar service types that require DHS registration and compliance with DHS standards will be required to demonstrate their compliance with DHS Standards and gain and maintain their accreditation / certification with a DHS approved independent review body. Existing Victorian HACC service providers will need to continue to demonstrate their compliance with the Victorian HACC funded organisations are independently reviewed triennially to ensure that they are complying with the Community Common Standards, and other HACC program requirements. Existing Commonwealth disability enterprises and employment services will be required to continue to comply with the requirements for independent assessment to certify their compliance with the Disability Service Standards LTA internal Quality Assurance Arrangements The LTA is developing quality management processes that will be assessed both internally and externally. The Agency will aim to have a multifaceted approach to internal quality assurance arrangements that incorporated elements such as: Adoption of the National Standards for Disability Services Operational guidelines Delegation frameworks Practice standards, peer review and Communities of Practice Sample case audits, feedback loops linked to training and guidelines Identified roles responsible for quality assurance Ongoing cycle of Internal QA linked to performance management signed off by senior agency management Client feedback and complaints linked to Quality Assurance processes with continuous quality improvements processes through Agency Future Arrangements There is a commitment from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to work to develop a nationally consistent quality management framework in the longer term. This will be underpinned by the National Standards for Disability Services which will implemented by the LTA. 12

13 7. Child Protection 7.1 Existing Arrangements The Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic) requires that people who engage in paid or voluntary child-related work need a WWC Check and some of these people will qualify for an exemption. The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) authorises certain professionals to share information with child protection and family services about vulnerable children and families. It also sets out the statutory requirements of mandatory reporting to the Child Protection service. Professionals involved with vulnerable children, young people and their families, including families with an unborn child, may consider they should report or refer a concern to either Child Protection or Child FIRST. 7.2 Arrangements during Launch The NDIS will operate in a manner consistent with the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Victoria) which has provisions regarding mandatory reporting of suspected abuse or neglect of children. All NDIS support providers will be expected to comply with State regulations regarding preemployment screening including National Criminal checks and Working with Children Checks. NDIS support providers will be expected to meet the costs associated with this screening. 8. Consumer Protection In addition to the quality assurance and safeguards arrangements described in this document, participants in the launch (as consumers with a disability) are also protected under the Australian Consumer Law that applies in both Victoria and the Commonwealth. The Australian Consumer Law provides a number of consumer guarantees for consumers buying goods and services. These guarantees include a guarantee that the service will be provided with due care and skill and will be provided within the agreed time or if a time is not stipulated, provided within a reasonable time. 13

14 9. Restrictive Practices 9.1 Existing Arrangements A small number of people with disability are subject to restrictive interventions (such as restraint or seclusion) or to compulsory treatment, due to the harm they pose to themselves or others. The Disability Act 2006 (Victoria) provides strong requirements to ensure that the rights of these people are protected. The Senior Practitioner within DHS has core responsibility to protect the rights of people with a disability subject to restrictive interventions and compulsory treatment. 9.2 Arrangements during Launch The Agency will work with the DHS to further understand the current Restrictive practices operating through DHS and work to design appropriate operational guidelines for Agency staff and providers registered with the NDIS. 10. External Accountability Arrangements The LTA acknowledges the need to design Agency staff and provider accountability under the NDIS in a manner that aligns to current arrangements for compliance with external accountability provisions that are outlined in Schedule B, Appendix C of the Bilateral Agreement. The LTA will operate to ensure that there will be no diminution of Victoria s quality assurance system and safeguards. To achieve this, the LTA will work with DHS, Victorian statutory authorities and other Victorian state government departments to apply all existing disability and relevant non disability quality and safeguards requirements. Implementation of these Working Arrangements Between March and June 2013, the LTA will also work with DHS and other Victorian departments to establish business processes and operational guidelines as required giving effect to these working arrangements, in particular, in the areas of complaints management, incident management and reporting, and registration. These business processes and operational guidelines will be reviewed and refined if necessary during launch, at a minimum annually. 14

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