Thursday, 12 November 2020
National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Strengthening Banning Orders) Bill 2020; Second Reading
The National Disability Insurance Scheme Amendment (Strengthening Banning Orders) Bill 2020 strengthens the existing powers of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner to ban a worker or provider from delivering services in the NDIS market. The bill aims to protect people with disability and to prevent them from experiencing harm from service provision and the people who work closely with them. As an independent national regulator with an integrated function, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner plays a very key role in building confidence in the NDIS through its regulatory and compliance frameworks. It is therefore important that the NDIS commission has robust investigation and regulatory powers and can take strong action where serious matters arise that affect the safety of NDIS participants. As at 31 December 2019, 18,384 NDIS providers were registered with the NDIS commission; of those registered, 46 per cent were individuals or sole traders.
The NDIS Act 2013 already empowers the NDIS commissioner to make banning orders. It has become apparent that the provisions under which these banning orders can be issued are too narrow. In short, this bill will strengthen those banning provisions in the act and allow the NDIS commissioner to ban a worker or provider they believe is unfit to deliver NDIS services, even if they are no longer delivering NDIS services. It will also allow a banning order to be issued pre-emptively to prevent a worker or provider who is not yet working in the NDIS sector from doing so in the future, based on information received from other sectors. This bill will also make it clear that the NDIS commissioner must use the existing NDIS provider register to include details of any current banning orders. This information will generally be publicly available, and people with disability and their representatives may search the NDIS provider register to ensure that providers or workers they are using are not subject to a banning order.
The strengthened banning order provisions support the aim of ensuring that unsuitable people who should not be delivering services under the NDIS cannot do so. This is an important part of developing trust in the NDIS market. Our paramount consideration is the right of people with disability to live lives free of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation. We need to close these gaps in the banning order provisions, and the bill before us will do so.
We will not be supporting the second reading amendments that have been put forward by the opposition, because we believe the proposed amendments do not contribute to or support the coordinated way in which the government, the NDIA and the NDIS commission are working with states and territories on information-sharing arrangements and supports for at-risk and vulnerable participants. I commend the bill to the Senate.