Pre-approval of service providers
Under the Disability Services Act 2006 , non-government service providers must obtain 'approved service provider status' before they can apply for funding from the department. To gain this, organisations must achieve certification under the Quality System, or give a commitment to implement the system and work towards certification.
The pre-approval process is designed to ensure that service providers have the capacity to provide accountable, sustainable and viable services to people with a disability.
Criminal history screening
People with a disability can be more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation than other members of the community. A high priority for the department is to increase the safety of people with a disability when they are accessing funded services.
The Disability Services Act 2006 introduced criminal history screening for all people engaged by funded non-government service providers. The Act makes it unlawful for a person to work or volunteer for a funded non-government service provider at a service outlet (place where disability service is provided) without an application being made for a criminal history check.
Under the Act, all workers and volunteers must undergo criminal history screening every three years. People working in funded non-government service providers will be issued with a positive notice card that verifies they have had a criminal history screening within the past three years.
Funding and prescribed requirements
Disability Services provides funding to non-government service providers under conditions set out in a funding agreement. The Act provides clearer guidelines about requirements and conditions to be included in funding agreements.
The Act also allows for the development of a regulation specifying basic requirements that will apply to all funded non-government service providers. The regulation has been developed and is available online.
Areas covered include compliance with basic organisational and administrative tasks, such as financial management, as well as requirements for service delivery, such as safeguards to protect people from abuse and neglect.
Investigation and monitoring
Disability Services and funded non-government service providers will continue to work together to ensure that funding agreements are in place and that requirements for accountability in service delivery are met.
The Act gives Disability Services broader powers (where necessary) to monitor and investigate services funded by the department. Disability Services is able to:
- ensure funded non-government service providers comply with funding agreements
- fully investigate and resolve complaints
- take action to ensure the safety of people with a disability receiving funded disability services.
Where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a funded non-government service provider is breaching the requirements of the new legislation, the department will be able to enter premises, seek information and ask questions.
The department will also be able to require a service provider to fix any problems and will have the capacity to monitor this process.