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Draft proposals for consultation

Key messages

We think that any changes to better support the safeguarding of participants should be participant-centred, and should:

  • be focused on participants’ rights and their capacity to exercise them
  • view the NDIS from participants’ perspectives
  • proactively identify and engage with risk
  • be trauma-aware and healing-informed.

This paper describes three complementary ideas to improve safeguarding.

  • The first idea is creating an NDIS-wide strategy on participant safety, so that everyone has a clear idea of what participant safety means and how to support it.
  • The second idea is to explore options for how participants and their supporters can engage in a discussion about risks and safeguards, and develop a proactive plan of supports and actions to manage the individual risks they face.
  • The third idea is to have a better variety of safeguards available that prioritise building and strengthening natural safeguards.

We have developed three draft proposals for changes to better support the safeguarding of participants.

These proposals are not our final views or recommendations.

This paper seeks ideas and feedback, to inform us in refining these proposals and then providing advice and recommendations to governments.

These draft proposals are complementary, interlinked and mutually reinforcing. This means they should be implemented together.

Together, these draft proposals aim to ensure that:

  • Arrangements to support safeguarding involve all government agencies working in the one direction in a way that is coordinated and centred on the participant – rather than having different strategies and arrangements across governments.
  • There is a more nuanced understanding of the circumstances and risks faced by individual participants – with responses and supports calibrated to provide the assistance individual participants need to exercise choice and manage risk.
  • There is a holistic set of non-regulatory safeguards that can be deployed based on the individual circumstances of participants – with a focus on building participant capacity and natural safeguards wherever possible.

A participant-centred approach

Changes to the NDIS to better support safeguarding should be participant-centred. While participant-centred does not have a formal definition in the NDIS, the concept is embedded in the rights-based approach of the NDIS Act 2013. Other frameworks from health and social services can help in understanding this concept. For example, National Disability Practitioners define a person-centred approach as,

‘ensur[ing] that the focus is on what matters to the people receiving support and their families, and pays attention to how to support staff as well.’[38]

The Picker Principles of Person Centred Care also provide some guidance on this idea. When something is participant-centred, it,

‘… puts people at the heart of health and social services, including care, support, and enablement. It is an approach where users are recognised as individuals, encouraged to play an active role in their care, and where their needs and preferences are understood and respected.’[39]

As shown in Figure 4, to deliver a participant-centred approach to safeguarding, changes should:

Be focused on participants’ rights and their capacity to exercise them

  • Prioritise empowering participants to understand and exercise their rights and take risks, including by supporting them to build capacity and natural safeguards.
  • Build capacity among carers, families and broader systems to respect and promote the rights of people with disability.
  • Be culturally safe and inclusive, ensuring that First Nations, CALD and LGBTQI+ people are supported with approaches that are right for them

View the NDIS from participants’ perspectives

  • Ensure all government agencies are coordinated and working in one direction.
  • Be aware of, and cohesive with, the broader systems that participants, carers and families engage with throughout their lifetime (for example, education, health).

Proactively identify and engage with risk

  • Recognise that each participant will understand and think about safety and risk in their own way, and that this will influence what safeguards feel and work best.
  • Identify risks, changes and issues proactively.
  • Address risks before issues arise wherever possible, rather than responding after the fact.

Be trauma-aware and healing-informed

  • Recognise that as people with disability, participants may have already experienced feeling or being unsafe, and that this will inform what they want and need to feel safe in the NDIS.

Figure 4. A participant-centred approach for changes to safeguarding

Questions for consultation

  1. What do you think about the draft proposals for change identified in this paper?
    1. What is good about these proposals? Is the balance right between the dignity of risk and supporting participants to be safe? What could be different or better?
    2. Is anything missing from these proposals? If so, what?
    3. Do you have different ideas to improve participant safeguarding? If so, what?
  2. What could be done beyond the NDIS to improve the safeguarding of people with disability?

Have your say

Consultation is now closed.

To have your say in the NDIS Review visit our consultation page.