Restrictive Practices Update in Light of NDIA Commission Developments

The NDIS Commission launched 1 July 2018 with new standards for behaviour support. In NSW we have entered into a joint agreement that fits our standards within the umbrella determined by the Commission. This means a few changes to NSW Policy and Practice. To read more and learn about the changes, click on the links.

These vital and important developments are not without their growth pains. However we need to keep a view to the big picture – that emerging requirements will aim towards eventually strengthening the review of restrictive practices. This is important for individual’s rights to adequate treatment under legal, ethical, and professional standards. The hope is that legal, ethical, and professional standards will be upheld among some of Australia’s most vulnerable population.

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Australian standards for Restrictive Practices is vital towards protection of the human rights of people with disabilities.

On the ground people who come forward for behaviour support reviews are somewhat surprised by the administrative burdens of 1. setting up a service generally under the NDIS and 2. processing issues around cases with restrictive practices.

After 1 July 2018 in many cases existing funding allocations may not be adequate to address the complexities of NDIS Commission requirements. This means that participants may face NDIS Plan reviews that can often take a great deal of time, leading to delays in situations where risks tend to be high.

Lengthy NDIS template forms for behaviour support and equally extensive NSW authorisation processes go in tandem with behaviour support reviews by practitioners. It appears that NDIS requirements may easily double if not triple the time it once took to provide clinical reviews, in large part due to compliance measures for data collection by the Commission.

While the new requirements may lead towards greater compliance and standardisation of services across the sector, there are always inherent risks when a government department takes oversight of clinical and professional roles. Whether discussing the historical track record in the UK or in other countries, in relation to Australian core disability service standards we are next in line for major adjustments and growth pains across the disability sector.

Implementing providers such as those managing day programs or home based supports are required to undertake NSW state level restrictive practice authorisation reviews. This process requests a great deal of information and forms, and in some cases appears to double up what is required by the Commission. The time it takes to process information appears so far to be without funding allocated for these complex mandatory requirements. It is unclear how vulnerable people with disabilities will fair in the midst of these contradictory set of circumstances. But like all things NDIS, there are positives and negatives as the Scheme rolls out across the country.

In the bigger picture, the NDIS Commission is charged with a large and important undertaking, and as things roll along the goals of monitoring and safeguarding will invariably be shared with the states. The proposed role of NSW for example is quite vital for the purposes of reviewing restrictive practices, how they are managed, and in what ways they can be reduced or eliminated over time. External senior clinical review appears to part of the NSW proposed authorisation model, which makes absolute sense. The state is taking on the burden of cost for maintaining a list of qualified external reviewers who will sit on review panels alongside the organisations presenting the restrictive practices review request.

Even though the NDIS has been trundling along for a few years already, and the safety net that once existed for people with disabilities has vastly expanded to include many more people within funded supports, the NDIS Commission role for people with more profound disabilities and behaviours of concern who require restrictive practices review is extremely necessary and entirely reasonable. How they go about this vital task is another matter, which Australians may not entirely comprehend for some time to come.

At the end of the day, it is important to see one thing clearly. The NDIS Commission and the NSW Restrictive Practices Authorisation under Family and Community Services are undertaking one of the most core and vital responsibilities of the disability services sector. In many ways this should have been the first undertaking of the NDIS. But we welcome the leadership of the Commission and the NSW FACS and we look forward to the ways that disability standards in Australia will grow and evolve from this point onwards.