DIA for service providers
Disability Inclusion Act 2014 - what it means for disability service providers funded by FACS
The Disability Inclusion Act 2014 (the Act) and Regulation commenced on 3 December 2014 and replaced the Disability Services Act 1993. As a Department of Family and Community Services' (FACS) funded disability service provider, the following will provide you with an overview of your obligations under the Act when providing supports and services to people with disability.
What does it mean for you as a service provider?
The Act is the new framework for the way FACS provides disability funding, supports and services as NSW moves to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Act also contains commitments to making communities more accessible and inclusive for people with disability that will continue beyond the commencement of the NDIS in NSW.
The Act introduces new requirements for FACS funded disability service providers, which are important for you to be aware of. These include key safeguards to uphold the rights of people with disability to be safe from harm.
There will be tighter employment screening of current and new staff working directly with people with disability in FACS funded disability services. Providers must screen new and existing “relevant workers” who are staff, volunteers, students (except work experience students), self-employed people/contractors and consultants, who work directly with people with disability.
Disability service providers must also screen new and existing board members where those board members are likely to work directly with people with disability (even if it is not delivering disability supports and services).
This employment screening applies to all new relevant workers and board members from 3 December 2014 and all existing relevant workers and board members by 1 December 2015.
Service providers must undertake criminal record checks for relevant workers and relevant board members, either prior to recruitment for new workers or board members or prior to 1 December 2015 for existing ones, and then at least once every four years since the last criminal record check. A person who has been convicted of a “prescribed criminal offence”, as detailed in the Act, is not allowed to work directly with people with disability, with some exemptions.
Reporting serious incidents of abuse and neglect
Since 3 December 2014, FACS funded disability supported group accommodation and centre-based respite service providers must report to the NSW Ombudsman all serious incidents involving abuse and neglect of people with disability in their supported group accommodation services (including respite centres). FACS funded providers of centre-based day programs which are providing services to people with disability living in supported group accommodation must also report incidents. The head of the accommodation or day program provider must notify the Ombudsman within 30 days of becoming aware of the incident. For more information, see DIA fact sheet 5 – reporting abuse and neglect (December 2014).
Funding suspension and termination
The Act sets out how funding to individuals and service provider organisations can be temporarily or permanently stopped.
Funding to a service provider can be suspended or terminated if FACS believes the organisation has breached service standards, employment screening requirements or its funding agreement.
FACS can suspend funding to a person or service provider receiving individualised funding, whether this is being paid directly to the person or to a service provider on the person's behalf, for up to 90 days at a time. This can be done when FACS reasonably believes that the person isn’t using the supports or services any more or is getting this support elsewhere.
Funding to a person or organisation can be terminated in part or in full due to the implementation of the NDIS.
The Act provides that some decisions relating to funding can be reviewed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Processes for resolving other disputes are set out in the funding agreement. Refer to DIA fact sheet 3 - supports, services and funding (December 2014) for further information on reviewing decisions.
The NSW Disability Service Standards still apply under the Act. As previously, FACS will continue to use the standards to improve the quality and consistency of supports and services provided to people with disability. The only change is that the standards are now specifically captured in legislation.
The Act also confirms that all FACS funded providers must continue to have their performance against the standards independently verified.
The NSW Disability Standards are consistent with the National Standards for Disability Services. In certain circumstances FACS can allow a service provider to comply with standards from another jurisdiction.
The Act contains general principles which reflect a human rights approach which reaffirm that people with disability have the same rights as others. It also includes principles recognising the needs of particular groups. Among these are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, women with disability and children with disability. Under the Act, people and organisations providing supports and services for people with disability should have regard for the principles of the Act.
The NSW Disability Service Standards are consistent with these principles. By complying with the NSW Disability Service Standards and undertaking independent verification against the standards, service providers can demonstrate they have taken into consideration the principles when delivering supports and services.
For further information on:
- Employment screening, please see the Probity in Employment Policy for FACS funded disability service providers.
- The Disability Inclusion Act 2014, please visit www.facs.nsw.gov.au/dia, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 446 470.
- Reporting of serious incidents of abuse and neglect, please visit www.ombo.nsw.gov.au/
- The NSW Disability Service Standards, please visit www.adhc.nsw.gov.au/sp/quality
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