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SAFEGuard Newsletter – Issue 5: Summer 2021-22 – A newsletter for people with disability, your friends, family, advocates and the community

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Please share this newsletter with people with disability in your network – for example, if you are an NDIS provider or worker who supports a person with disability, or an advocate, guardian, friend or family member of a person with disability.

 

International Day of People with Disability

Each December, International Day of People with Disability is observed around the world, celebrating the contributions and achievements of people with disability and promoting awareness, understanding and acceptance.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’.

The NDIS Commission works to ensure NDIS participants receive safe and quality supports and services from qualified providers, no matter where they live in Australia. The contribution and leadership of people with disability is critical to this work.

We engage with people with disability in every facet of what we do, and your experiences and perspectives inform our policies and procedures and drive our efforts for continuous improvement. We exist to promote the health safety and wellbeing of people with disability by using the tools under the NDIS Act and Rules to educate and regulate providers on what is appropriate. The Code of Conduct and all our standards are written through the experience of people with disability.

From when you make a complaint about a support or service you receive from a provider, to when you participate in our co-design and engagement activities – your experiences and views shape the way we regulate providers, how and what we communicate, and the resources we develop for people with disability and the providers and workers who support them.

We know, from your feedback and experiences, that the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for many people with disability. During this period we have and continue to respond to your feedback about those challenges. We are ensuring registered NDIS providers are aware of their ongoing obligations regarding safety and continuity of the supports they provide you, and their role in supporting you to access COVID-19 vaccination. We’ve also worked to ensure you have the information you need to make decisions that are right for you.

Through these actions and many others, we are continuing to work with people with disability to educate and uplift the disability sector, to help ensure all NDIS participants can access safe and quality services and supports that promote choice, control and dignity.

Thank you to all those who contribute to this vital work, we look forward to hearing more from you.

 

Changes to the NDIS Act

Recent changes to NDIS legislation will help prevent harm of people with disability most at risk, through improved information sharing arrangements.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 is the legislation that established the NDIS Commission and sets out our core functions and framework.

On 21 October 2021, the Australian Parliament passed the National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Improving Supports for At Risk Participants) Bill 2021.

The Bill makes several changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013.  The Bill implements changes to improve the protections in place for NDIS participants, including some of the recommendations of the independent review into circumstances relating to the tragic death of Ann-Marie Smith (Robertson Review). The bill came into effect on 29 October.

·       expanding the compliance and enforcement powers of the NDIS Commissioner

·       clarifying provider registration provisions

·       enabling information sharing about providers and workers between the NDIA and the NDIS Commission

·       enabling the disclosure of protected NDIS Commission information to relevant state and territory bodies.

 

Have your say on regulatory alignment plans

Improving quality and safety for participants and consumers of disability support, aged care and veterans’ care is the aim of a regulatory alignment project underway.

Regulatory alignment will also minimise duplication of obligations for providers and make it easier for workers to move seamlessly across different types of care.

NDIS providers, workers, participants and their families are encouraged to have their say in a public consultation underway in December.

For more information and to access the consultation paper, including an Easy Read version, visit health.gov.au. To register your interest in participating in the consultation, visit the Department of Health’s Consultation Hub.

This reform project is one of several being undertaken in the care and support sectors, including the NDIS. For more information on related NDIS reforms, visit our website.

 

NDIS Code of Conduct – Respect the privacy of people with disability

Each edition of SAFEGuard focuses on one part of the NDIS Code of Conduct – the set of rules about how your providers and workers should act when they are supporting you and the things they need to do to make sure you are safe.

In this edition, we are focusing on the second rule, which is that your providers and workers must respect the privacy of people with disability.

Privacy is a human right. Rights related to privacy are set out in the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 and State and Territory privacy laws.

You have a right to privacy and workers are required to respect and protect the privacy of all people connected with the delivery of NDIS supports and services.

This includes privacy in relation to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information like your name, address, date of birth and details about your health or disability. When collecting your personal information, workers should explain:

·       the kinds of personal information that will be collected and held, including recorded audio and visual material

·       why this information is held

·       who will have access to this information

·       how they will ensure the information is secure

·       how this information will be used

·       how to access and amend information held about you

·       how to make a complaint if you feel that your NDIS provider has breached their privacy obligations.

In some cases, there are legal obligations that may mean a worker or provider has to share your personal information. This might include mandatory reporting requirements on child protection matters, and obligations to report incidences of violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse, and sexual misconduct to the NDIS Commission and police.

It is important to know that respecting privacy is more than a careful approach to handling personal information. It is delivering services in a way that maintains personal dignity. This includes:

·       maintaining the confidentiality of your personal information

·       explaining and requesting permission to perform procedures that involve physical touch or the invasion of personal space

·       providing services to prevent embarrassment and discomfort such as toilet breaks or the changing of incontinence pads, in a timely way

·       considering everyday personal privacy needs such as being able to shower and dress in a private and comfortable space.

If you don’t think someone is meeting these rules, you can complain to us.

 

COVID-19 vaccination​

Getting vaccinated can help protect your health, and the health of those around you. All NDIS participants aged 12 years and over are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Our Acting Commissioner has published a statement on our website that highlights the right of people with disability to make their own decision about COVID-19 vaccination, and the role of NDIS providers and workers in supporting NDIS participants to have the vaccination.

All NDIS providers and workers are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. It is your right to ask for workers who are vaccinated if that is your choice.

You can talk to your NDIS provider about getting vaccinated, or ask them for help to make or attend an appointment to get vaccinated.

You can also talk to your GP or doctor about getting vaccinated, go to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder or contact the National Coronavirus and COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 1800 020 080.

If you need assistance booking a COVID-19 vaccine or need free, fact-checked information and advice about COVID-19,go to the Disability Gateway website or call 1800 643 787. The Disability Gateway phone line is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm AEDT.

People who need information in a language other than English can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450, and ask to be connected to the Disability Gateway.

People who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment can call the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677 and ask to be connected to the Disability Gateway.

More information about vaccination is also available on the Department of Health website, including Easy Read and Auslan resources.
How to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccination

You may need proof that you have received your COVID-19 vaccination. You can get a COVID-19 digital certificate or your immunisation history statement to show proof of your vaccinations.

The Services Australia website has a range of information to help you set up your online account to access and store your proof of vaccination.

You can also call the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 and ask them to send your immunisation history statement or COVID-19 digital certificate to you. It can take up to 14 days for your statement or certificate to arrive in the post.

You can also ask your NDIS provider to help you get your proof of vaccination.

 

How to contact the NDIS Commission

You can call us on 1800 035 544. This is a free call from landlines. Our contact centre is open 9.00am to 5.00pm (9.00am to 4.30pm in the NT) Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

Alternatively, you can email contactcentre@ndiscommission.gov.au

Ways to make a complaint

If you would like to make a complaint to us, you can:

Call 1800 035 544 (free call from landlines) or TTY 133 677. Interpreters can be arranged.

Use the National Relay Service and ask for 1800 035 544.

Complete an online complaint contact form.

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Melanie RobertsonSAFEGuard Newsletter – Issue 5: Summer 2021-22 – A newsletter for people with disability, your friends, family, advocates and the community

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