Fay Mound, UnitingCare Australia
Feedback on the NDIS Code of Conduct:
UnitingCare Australia is supportive of the introduction of a Code of Conduct for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and we provide the following feedback on the document:
1.1 Why we need an NDIS Code of Conduct:
For clarity the link between the Code of Conduct and the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Framework must be clearly articulated.
1.3 Who will be covered by the NDIS Code of Conduct:
To ensure a universally consistent approach to quality and safety for all stakeholders, the Code of Conduct should also:
• apply to the National Disability Insurance Agency
• cover the responsibilities of NDIS participants. For example, for providers and workers to deliver quality support in a “safe and ethical manner with care and skill” participants must provide adequate information and show appropriate respect.
The Code of Conduct states that it applies to all providers and workers who are funded under the NDIS, regardless of whether they are registered, or whether they receive funding through individual plans or contract services. However, nowhere is there any detail as to how unregistered, private providers will be held accountable, or how any consequences of non-compliance will, or can, be applied to these providers.
The document does not indicate where the responsibility lies for promoting the Code and providing ongoing awareness. This is particularly relevant to unregistered providers and their workers, as well as workers who are directly hired by participants.
2.3 Act with integrity, honesty and transparency:
The Code states that providers and workers must not ask for, or accept, money or gifts from participants or other clients, including carers, that will benefit the worker directly or indirectly. It will be important for the clause to be clearer about how “material benefit” is defined, as it would not be appropriate for a Code such as this to result in people with disabilities not being able to, for example, give a birthday or Christmas gift to staff. While this may not be an intended consequence of such a clause, it could be open to be interpreted as such if “material benefit” is not more clearly defined.
2.4 Provide supports in a safe and ethical manner with care and skill:
The Code states “when a person with disability seeks supports, they expect providers and workers to have expertise in providing the relevant services. It is essential that providers and workers maintain competence in their field and recognise the limits of their competence”.
We note that while there is a clear need to ensure a competent and capable workforce, care must be taken not to over-professionalise the sector, particularly in the areas of support. People with disabilities are increasingly seeking staff that match their age, culture, interests etc. rather than specific qualifications. Any Code of Conduct needs to safeguard the right for people with disabilities to choose support people well matched to themselves and their needs.