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Compliance Obligations for Service Providers Under the NDIS

By 9 December 2019 Employment

No matter what line of work they’re in, it’s a pretty safe bet that most people don’t really like negative feedback. But in reality, complaints are important. Without them, problems can’t be addressed and improvements can’t be made.

To that end, new rules applying to all individuals and entities registered as providers in accordance with section 73E of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth) (“the Act) took effect in 2018. Specifically, these rules mandate that any such persons, businesses and/or organisations create and use comprehensive systems to deal with complaints about the supports and services they provide.

Here’s what you need to know about the requirements set forth in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Complaints Management and Resolution) Rules 2018 (Cth).

It’s the least you can do

The minimum standards for “complaints management and resolution systems” implemented by registered providers can be found in Rule 8. It stipulates that any such systems must:

  • Allow anyone with complaints about the services or other aid provided to make them to the registered NDIS provider (anonymously or otherwise); and
  • include a simple and readily accessible mechanism for making and addressing negative feedback; and
  • ensure that anyone who has shared or wants to share negative feedback receives help.

That’s not all. Under Rule 8, these systems must also be designed to ensure that:

  • The provider confirms receipt of any complaint that is officially lodged, and evaluates and resolves the complaint fairly, efficiently and promptly; and
  • the provider takes reasonable steps pertaining to the subject of the complaint; and
  • measures are in place to ensure that anyone who makes a complaint, and any other persons with a disability affected by the subject of the complaint, is informed about the ways in which it may be brought to the attention of the Commissioner of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (“the Commission”); and
  • anyone who makes a complaint, or any person with a disability actually or potentially affected by the issue identified in the complaint, gets help to contact the Commissioner about the complaint.

Rules 9 through 12

These rules address issues ranging from fairness to documentation, training and the referral of complaints. Here is a brief summary of each.

Rule 9: Mandates that a complaints management and resolution system created and implemented by a registered NDIS provider ensures procedural fairness when dealing with criticism/negative feedback/issues of concern raised by affected persons.

Rule 10: Mandates that complaints, the steps taken to address them and the way in which they are resolved are all documented. It also stipulates that the provider must retain all such records for seven years from the day they were created.

Rule 11: Mandates that the roles and responsibilities of all staff associated with the receipt, assessment and resolution of a complaint made to a registered NDIS provider are clearly set forth in the complaints management and resolution system.

Rule 12: Mandates that the complaints management and resolution system includes provisions for case referral to any other bodies, in accordance with any applicable requirements under Commonwealth, State or Territory laws.

Compliance and enforcement

The Commission is tasked with monitoring registered NDIS providers. It is also responsible for ensuring that they comply with conditions for registration.

The Commission is authorised to investigate any matters relating to registered and unregistered providers and workers. Accordingly, it can act based on the severity of its findings. Specifically, it can impose certain punishments. These include but are not limited to loss of registration and banning workers. It can also seek fines for non-compliant parties.

Under section 73F of the Act, any registered NDIS provider that does not comply with the new rules violates conditions for registration. Under 73J of the Act, the punishment for such a violation is now 250 penalty units (currently $52,500).

We are here to help

Clearly it is essential for all registered NDIS providers to understand and comply with these rules. Failure to do so may have serious consequences that may affect not only your livelihood, but your ability to provide valuable help to people in need.

If you have questions or concerns about this or any related issue, the legal team at Delaney & Delaney is here to help. You can reach us by phone at (07) 3236 2604, or by email at admin@delaneyanddelaney.com.au. You can also make an appointment on our website.