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Making a complaint about an unregistered disability service

21st January 2019

When discussing your NDIS plan with your planner, you can choose how to manage your funding and payments to service providers. There are three ways of managing an NDIS plan and budget:

  1. Agency-managed, where the NDIA manages your plan and will pay your registered disability service providers directly.
  2. Self-managed, where the NDIA will pay you directly and you are responsible for choosing and paying for your disability service providers, whether they are registered or not.
  3. Plan management, where the NDIS will pay your nominated service provider (Financial Intermediary) who will then manage your plan and pay your chosen disability service providers on your behalf.

The NDIS is about choice and control, and many people choose self-management of their NDIS plan so they can choose any disability service provider. However, DSC can only take complaints about disability service providers registered with the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria. In choosing an unregistered disability service provider, there are limited safeguards and options for raising any concerns you may have.

Here are some examples of out-of-scope complaints received by DSC about unregistered disability service providers.

Example: Incident management by an unregistered transport provider

We received a call from a parent who was concerned about a person with disability’s transport provider. There was a regular appointment to drive the person with disability from point A to point B, along an agreed route. On one occasion, the route was changed and this change resulted in upsetting the person with disability who exited the vehicle while it was still travelling, putting them at great risk.

The parent was concerned that the incident wasn’t managed appropriately at the time, that the route had been changed in the first place, that the provider didn’t understand the person with disability’s behaviours and needs, and that the provider hadn’t even responded to their concerns and complaint.

Because the provider was unregistered, we couldn’t take the complaint. When we advised the parent about this, they admitted that they knew from the start that there were no complaint mechanisms for their unregistered transport provider, but they thought they could save some money by choosing them.

Complaint option – They ended up cancelling this service and returning to their previous registered transport provider, and were going to pursue a complaint through Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Example: Assault at an unregistered recreation camp

We received a call from a parent who was concerned that their daughter had been assaulted as she had bruising on her arms and legs in the shape of a hand print after returning from a three day camp. Their daughter told them she had been hit by ‘Sue’.

When the parent spoke to the service provider about their concerns, the service provider said that their daughter hadn’t seemed to enjoy the camp, hadn’t engaged in the activities, had exhibited some behaviours of concern and hadn’t wanted to take a shower. They said they didn’t have a staff member called Sue and that none of their staff would have hit their daughter.

Complaint option – We encouraged them to talk to Victoria Police about their concerns that someone had assaulted their daughter, and to speak to the NDIA and their support coordinator about their concerns. They ended up choosing to stop using that service as the service provider did not respond to their complaint.

Example: Overcharged by an unregistered provider

We received a call from a person with disability who was concerned that they were being overcharged by their disability service provider. Their invoice didn’t have enough information to help them understand what they had been charged for, and at what rate. When they complained about it, their service provider said that was all the information their accounting software could provide.

Complaint option – We encouraged them to contact Consumer Affairs Victoria and the NDIA regarding their concerns.

Summary

When choosing a service provider, it is important to understand that there are currently minimal safeguards for unregistered service providers. DSC cannot take complaints about them and they do not have to report incidents to DHHS.

The new NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) will not be able to take complaints about unregistered disability service providers in Victoria until 1 July 2019.

From 1 July 2019, the NDIS Commission can take complaints about unregistered disability service providers in Victoria and will require unregistered disability service providers to do the following:

  • adhere to the NDIS Code of Conduct
  • have a complaints process, and
  • consider doing a voluntary worker screening check

Even after 1 July 2019, unregistered disability service providers will not have to report incidents and will not be audited against any disability practice standards.

For more information go to: https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/providers/ndis-code-conduct

Figure 1: NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission obligations on Victorian disability service providers from 1 July 2019

Unregistered providers Registered providers (lower risk) Registered providers (higher risk)
NDIS Code of Conduct
Complaints Process
Voluntary Worker Screening Mandatory Worker Screening
Reportable Incident Requirements
Practice Standards Verification Practice Standards Certification
Restrictive Practice Reporting (if applicable)

Level 20, 570 Bourke Street,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000 Australia

Call for enquiries or complaints - 1800 677 342

Email for enquiries or complaints - complaints@odsc.vic.gov.au