Published 3 October 2023
AHPA strongly supports many of the findings and recommendations of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
We welcome the Royal Commission’s recommendations to embed human rights related to disability in all relevant legislation, including introducing an Australian Disability Rights Act, a National Disability Commission, and establishing a dedicated First Nations Unit in the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
AHPA also strongly supports a raft of recommendations aimed at enhancing quality and safety in the NDIS. These include recommendations that the NDIS Commission should improve its internal procedures for monitoring reportable incidents, create an independent investigators panel, strengthen monitoring, compliance and enforcement, and expand its data reporting.
We are particularly pleased that the Report acknowledges the current regulatory burdens on providers – particularly for small providers and sole traders – associated with the NDIS Commission’s registration and quality audit processes. AHPA agrees with the Royal Commission that current registration requirements can act as a disincentive to register, and that the current disparity between providers who, due to the nature of their work, must register, and an increasing number of unregistered providers, is not conducive to high quality, safe service provision and may exacerbate present shortages of allied health professionals.
But at the same time, it is also important that participants have as much choice and control as possible over who provides services to them under their plan. Recommendations 10.21 and 10.23 therefore seem to be a sensible compromise, because they seek to address the question of registration as a matter of assessing risk proportionate to regulatory burden, and include removing any duplication of requirements for practitioners or organisations working within multiple schemes, and recognising other forms of accreditation.
AHPA has long advocated for this approach, because allied health professionals working in the NDIS are already either regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or are members of professions which self-regulate to equivalent standards. To further ensure compliance and aid efficiency, AHPA also welcomes Recommendations 10.14 and 10.30 which call on the NDIS Commission to develop model procedures and specific guidance for NDIS providers, and to enhance its engagement and capacity building activities with providers.
Other highlights of the 222 recommendations include a strong theme of breaking down siloes across federal, state and territory governments, and current divides such as ‘health versus disability’. The Report emphasises ensuring that its recommendations are not only implemented but have their consequences evaluated. To this end, it will be critical that priority is given to establishing the National Disability Commission, and that consistent, collaborative approaches to addressing disability rights and collecting and analysing associated data are instituted at every level of government.