Stakeholders have called for a shift towards a service culture by disability providers, including training for management committees and ‘quality ratings’ for group homes.
The paper received nearly 50 responses, many calling for change to promote quality in disability services and to do more to protect people with disability from violence, abuse and neglect.
“We heard about the critical importance of creating a service culture amongst disability service providers and support workers that respects human rights and does not tolerate violence or other abuses,” the commission said.
Some respondents, including providers and advocacy groups, said this could include implementing a Zero Tolerance Framework and encouraging a culture of transparency and accountability, as well as putting people with disability at the centre of planning, service delivery and monitoring.
These providers have no prior experience in nor understanding of the philosophies of disability support and no regard for training themselves or their workers.Institute for Healthy Communities Australia
The Institute for Healthy Communities Australia, which supports health, community and human services organisations provide safe and quality services, said service provider management committees and Boards didn’t always understand accountability or governance requirements and called for more training.
The institute said its auditors had seen many new providers who are completely unaware of the NDIS and legislative or regulatory requirements.
“These providers have no prior experience in nor understanding of the philosophies of disability support and no regard for training themselves or their workers,” the submission says.
“They have been providing services anywhere from O to more than 12 months, meaning that they are providing services without having implemented appropriate safeguards.”
Tony and Heather Tregale from consumer support organisation Lifestyle in Supported Accommodation suggested that ‘quality ratings’ of group homes should be developed and that “ratings be removed or downgraded if the home is found wanting”.
There were also calls to ensure the workforce was committed to the rights of people with disability, and that employee compliance was subject to codes, standards and compliance monitoring.
There were concerns expressed about the adequacy of support worker screening.
Advocacy for Inclusion said the coordination of State, Territory and Commonwealth screening was inconsistent and complex and should be overseen by one independent body.
National Disability Services, meanwhile, said providers spent too much time on NDIS administration and too little on improving quality and safeguards through training and other measures.
Advocacy for Inclusion and the United Workers Union raised concerns about the impact of increased casualisation of the workforce and high staff turnover.
The commission says it heard many concerns about the inadequate level of oversight of services in group homes, and several responses identified Community Visitors Schemes as a critical oversight mechanism that should be expanded.