5 things NDIS Participants need to know about the new NDIS Worker Screening Check
By Scott Alexander, CEO
A central tenet of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is that it is consumer centric.
The consumer – the person with a disability – is central.
This is important in empowering and supporting people with disability, giving people responsibility for making decisions based on their own needs and wants. This means people have a choice when it comes to purchasing services from different providers and no longer feel shackled to one source.
Choice is liberating, but it has been accompanied by a shift in the responsibility for the management of risk towards the consumer.
The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework was developed to promote high quality supports and safe environments for all NDIS participants.
One measure that aims to protect people is the new NDIS Worker Screening Check. Officially introduced on 1 February 2021, this new Screening Check sets a single national standard for all NDIS workers. The Check clears or excludes a person from working with people with disability.
While it’s workers and providers who will have to do the heavy lifting to get the paperwork completed to obtain their Clearance, there are some things that you, as the consumer, need to understand about this new process – so that you can employ the right provider and support workers.
1. Work with registered providers
Registered providers must only employ support workers who hold an NDIS Clearance. So, the most important way of reducing your risk is to only employ providers that are registered with the NDIS.
This way, you have certainty that a support worker has been assessed and has the appropriate clearance to work with you and others with a disability.
2. Insist that unregistered providers employ support workers who hold a Clearance
Unregistered providers are not compelled to have their support workers hold an NDIS Clearance – but you can insist that they do.
Many people on self-managed plans choose to work with unregistered providers, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make it a condition of your engagement of them that their support workers hold a Clearance.
After all, anyone who has your best interests at heart should be happy to go through the process to demonstrate that they have been assessed and cleared.
3. Check the NDIS Worker Screening Database
You can check whether a support worker has an NDIS Clearance by checking the new NDIS Worker Screening Database. You will need to apply to access the database, but once you have this, you’ll be able to easily see if your support worker has a Clearance.
4. There is a transition period
As with all new processes, there is, of course, a transition period. This gives support workers time to apply for, and receive, their Clearance.
Depending on the safety checks that a support worker already had as of 1 February, they may have until 31 July 2021 to get the Clearance. Ask your provider what their transition period looks like and how they’re planning to meet the deadline.
5. Head to the web for more information
While this is a national check, there are some differences in requirements between States. For those in Victoria, check the information available on the Victorian Government’s website.
Following the steps outlined here and familiarising yourself with the new rules may mean making a few additional calls to find out more about the service provider you’re potentially engaging or have already engaged. It may also mean not choosing the person with the cheapest hourly rate.
But that extra time and that extra cost could mean extra peace of mind by knowing that you’ve hired someone who’s been cleared to work with people with a disability.
While having choice is extremely empowering, it’s also powerful to know how to make the right choice when it comes to deciding on a service provider.