Department of Human Services

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9.10 Safeguarding Taskforce Supplementary Report-September 2020

The Minister for Human Services established the Safeguarding Task Force on 21 May 2020 with responsibility to examine and report quickly on systemic safeguarding gaps of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (the Commission) and the state. An interim report was submitted to the Minister on 15 June 2020 and publicly released on 16 June 2020. The Interim Report concentrated on preventative and corrective measures and identified 12 safeguarding gaps and made 5 recommendations.

The July Report focused on developmental measures and subsumed the Interim report. The July Report was adjusted to include feedback received from submissions made to the Task Force after the Interim Report and information provided through meetings with interested parties. The July Report identified an additional 2 gaps in safeguarding (making 14 in total) and made seven recommendations (an additional two recommendations) to address those gaps. The report was provided to the Minister on 31July 2020.

The members of the Safeguarding Task Force with lived experience raised concerns about the short time frame for the delivery of the July report. They thought that the time frame did not provide the opportunity for people with disability to access the report in an appropriate format and provide genuine and considered feedback. The July report was opened for additional feedback until 14 September 2020.

Twelve additional submissions were made to the Safeguarding Task Force. A number of these submissions were echoing concerns that were raised in the report, reinforcing the views of the Safeguarding Task Force or urging more to be done. Lighthouse Disability reinforced the need for case management. They provided additional clarification on the key aspects of case management that differ from support coordination, a comprehensive program which is coordinated and links different aspects of services delivery, not a series of unrelated activities - also that case management includes advocacy. The Health Performance Council extended the concerns about health matters, suggesting that the report “expressly recognise the safeguarding gap that can arise from the health system not recognising the needs of people with disabilities outside of Adelaide”

A letter was received from the Commissioner, Graeme Head, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission outlining the operation and functions of the NDIS Act and Rules and how they pertain to the issues raised in the report.

Feedback was provided from Children and Young People with Disability Australia, the Guardian for Children and Young People and the Commissioner for Children and Young People who all highlighted concerns in relation to gaps not considered in the report in relation to Children and Young People.

“In South Australia and across the country there is insufficient monitoring and oversight or accountability for reporting to identify the systemic abuse and neglect that has either led them to these systems or as an outcome of their involvement in the systems” -  Children and Young People with Disability Australia

“Aboriginal children and young people with disability who are in care and/or youth detention may be some of Australia’s most vulnerable and marginalised people. Visiting schemes and oversight bodies must also strive to employ, using targeted recruitment, an appropriate number of Aboriginal staff who have expertise about the care and needs of children and young people with disability” - Guardian for Children and Young People

“The state government has recognised gaps in oversight of adults and have expanded the adult safeguarding unit but there appears to be no recognition that the same gaps will be occurring with children with disabilities. There is little oversight to ensure that children with disabilities are safely accessing public services (school, sport community services for children". - Commissioner for Children and Young People

After the tragic death of Ann Marie Smith, an adult living alone, the Safeguarding Task Force was focussed on safeguarding gaps affecting adults with disability, and particularly those who are vulnerable. There are other mechanisms and government agencies focussed on the safety and care of children and young people, including the Department for Child Protection, Department of Human Services, Department for Education and SA Health.

Though not a submission to the Task Force the Report to the Commissioner of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission from Alan Robertson SC documents a number of recommendations that mostly mirror the findings of the Task Force. Mr. Robertson tackled the issues of NDIS participant vulnerability, Community Visitor Schemes, reportable incidents and complaints.

The Minister for Human Services released a statement advising that the Report had been handed down and outlined how the State Government was actioning the recommendations.

  • The Department of Human Services developed and has signed new information sharing guidelines with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
  • The Department of Human Services is supporting all state authorities to develop and publish their Disability Access and Inclusion Plan by October 31, 2020

The expansion of the Adult Safeguarding Unit is being brought forward from the original date of 2022 and will now be able to take reports of vulnerable adults of any age living with a disability commencing October 1, 2020. The scope will expand again to include all vulnerable adults over the age of 18 from 1 October 2022 (as originally anticipated).

  • The State Government will provide an additional $1.8 Million over 3 years to continue the work of the Disability Advocate and to support individual advocacy in SA.
  • The State Government remains committed to maintaining the Community Visitor Scheme in SA and will progress how it can work alongside the NDIS.

Australian Government released their response to the 2019 Review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 and the NDIA published their Participant Service Improvement Plan 2020-21 and Participant Service Charter. The focus is now being on improvements to the scheme and another set of eyes for the participant by pro-actively checking in on a participant, especially if they may be in a vulnerable situation.

Page last updated : 10 May 2022

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