NDIS-registered providers work with some of the most vulnerable members of our community. It is therefore critical that policies are in place to ensure workers do not pose any threat to clients, and that a safe environment is maintained.
To support this overarching goal, the nationwide NDIS Worker Screening Check – aka the NDIS Check – is now in effect as of 1 February 2021 (except for the Northern Territory, where it will go live from 1 July 2021).
What is the NDIS Worker Screening Check?
The NDIS Check is a dedicated background screening product, designed to assess an individual’s suitability to work with people with disabilities. It’s a way to mitigate any risk posed to both workers and clients, and is handled directly by each state or territory’s NDIS Worker Screening Units.
NDIS providers and their workers can apply for an NDIS Worker Screening Check through their state or territory’s dedicated agency (see ‘How do I get an NDIS Check?’ below for more information).
What is the NDIS Worker Screening Database?
All workers who have applied for the NDIS Check are placed on the NDIS Worker Screening Database. NDIS-registered providers are able to access this online register to monitor the clearance status of their staff, and to check the status of any staff applying for employment.
If you’re an unregistered NDIS provider, or a self-managed participant, you will need to request access to the register by completing an online application.
How does the NDIS Check differ from a Police Check?
A National Police Check is typically a ‘point in time’ check that focuses on a criminal record and contains a list of DCOs (disclosable court outcomes). The NDIS Worker Screening Check is far more comprehensive.
The NDIS Check factors in additional information about an individual, and includes more risk factors than a Police Check. In addition to criminal history, the NDIS Check will also look at past employment details, any AVOs (apprehended violence orders), misconduct in the workplace, offences while the individual was a juvenile, and more.
This wealth of information helps the NDIS make a more informed decision when assessing the degree of risk an individual may pose when working with people with disability.
Who needs to get an NDIS Check?
Anyone who works with – or seeks to work with – people living with disability needs to be assessed via the NDIS Check. According to the NDIS, this process “determines whether a person is cleared or excluded from working in certain roles with people with disability.”
The good news is that the clearance is Australia wide, so workers will be able to move between roles, departments, organisations and even across state and territories without having to get another NDIS Check for the duration of its five-year validation period.
How do Acceptable Checks factor in now that the NDIS Check is live?
Prior to the introduction of the NDIS Check, people working for NDIS-approved providers were required to have an Acceptable Check, meaning they met the screening requirements for the state or territory in which they worked.
While the transition period into the NDIS Check ended on 31 January 2021, individuals who have an Acceptable Check may be able to continue working in certain roles without an NDIS Worker Screening Check for a set period. The roles and the periods of time differ from state to state, so it’s important that you check your state or territory-specific rules around Acceptable Checks here. If you’re still unsure, speak to your employer or reach out to the NDIS Commission on 1800 035 544.
How do I get an NDIS Check?
While the NDIS Worker Screening Check is part of a nationwide rollout, you or your employer will be working with your state or territory’s government to apply for the check.
In Victoria for example, Service Victoria is in charge of the NDIS Worker Screening Check and manages all applications. The transition period for existing NDIS workers in the state ended on 31 January 2021, meaning all employees should by now have their new check completed (there are a few exceptions, which can be found here).
In WA, workers have been able to apply for an NDIS Check from 1 February 2021 onwards. However, because the phasing-in period here will continue through until the end of January 2023, you may not need to apply immediately if you are an existing NDIS worker who has an Acceptable Check and does not have any pending charges under the NDIS Worker Screening Act.
We recommend contacting the NDIS Worker Screening Unit in your specific state or territory for more information:
Ultimately, the new national NDIS Check allows NDIS-approved providers to verify their worker’s check applications, and review the NDIS check clearances of prospective employees all on one single, convenient portal.
At the same time, the new system is designed to better protect people with disability, and a more streamlined system will afford both staff of NDIS-approved providers, and their clients, the confidence that their working environment is trustworthy and safe.
This is hugely important and equally as positive step forward in ensuring the most trustworthy care possible of vulnerable individuals.