General safeguards

5.110 In Proposal 4–9, the ALRC proposes that the appointment and conduct of Commonwealth representatives should be subject to appropriate and effective safeguards.

5.111 The ALRC does not intend to make a proposal with respect to the specific safeguards that may be required in the context of the NDIS, or comment on systemic issues relating to safeguards under the NDIS raised by stakeholders, including the provision of funding to support participants to seek review of NDIA decisions.[107]

5.112 However, a number of stakeholders, including the Disability Services Commission of Victoria, strongly advocated the development of independent oversight of the NDIS, consisting of a body or bodies with complaint handling and investigative powers, legislative responsibilities to conduct monitoring, review and inquiry functions; and responsibility for promoting access to advocacy and supported decision-making.[108]

5.113 There are a number of existing complaint, review and appeal mechanisms under the NDIS. For example, participants may seek internal review of a reviewable decision,[109] make a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, or seek review of a reviewable decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).[110]

5.114 In the trial sites, existing state and territory quality assurance frameworks and safeguards also apply.[111] The Department of Social Services is currently developing a number of proposed options for a national quality assurance and safeguards framework or approach as part of the NDIS. It is anticipated that when the NDIS is fully rolled out, safeguards will include:

o individualised strategies built into participant plans to help the participant, their family and support network to reduce the risk of harm, through mechanisms such as advocates, guardians and nominees;

o arrangements that organisations put in place to protect participants, such as: staff supervision; internal complaints processes; quality frameworks;

o system level safeguards such as:

§ external review of decisions and actions that directly impact on a person, such as access to relevant tribunals or commissions; community visitors schemes; and police checks and working with children checks

§ community based safeguards that are available to all members of the community, such as: practitioner registration requirements; ombudsman offices; and anti-discrimination, human rights and consumer protection law.[112]

5.115 The ALRC suggests that the safeguard issues outlined in this Discussion Paper be considered in the course of developing the national quality assurance and safeguards framework or approach as part of the NDIS.