Our Response to the “NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework”.
NDIS: How it will work: A nationally consistent screening process will be developed: the results of the screening process for an applicant will be valid throughout Australia, regardless of the state or territory in which it was issued.
Cleard.life response: As a national security vetting agency, we consider not only is a nationally consistent approach to a person's suitability the logical one, but specifically we recommend that the screening determination be linked directly to the Attorney Generals’ Suitability and Adjudicative Guidelines (inside the Protective Security Policy Framework – PSPF).
NDIS: Who will be risk-based screened: workers, including employees, agents, volunteers, contractors, and sub-contractors engaged by NDIS providers and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) that have significant contact with people with disability as a part of their work or role. Those who have already undergone equivalent checks through other systems will also be exempted.
Cleard.life response: as mentioned later in the NDIS framework comments, “regular, thorough screening is essential”, so we recommend that existing holders be updated and upgraded within 12 months to meet the new national suitability standards. Why? Because trusted Insiders can cause much damage.
NDIS: Employers should be required to obtain referee and police checks for all staff who will have client contact.
Cleard.life response: Referee reports, especially “un-nominated” Referees are an exceptionally important part of this process – as it offers another degree of independence and impartiality. However, not many employers are trained to secure what the trade call “developed” referees and go with "Referee Aunt Betty, or perhaps Referee who is the in-law". Cleard.life offers a “Referee Addon” option which mean we will obtain a referee, interview that person. This allows our decisions to be even more certain. As part of the Cleard.life general service fee, however, the Sponsor/employer/provider can provide “additional information” which can include adverse or dubious Referee comments that they obtained. Our Vetting Officers will get to the bottom of the allegation or the raised issue.
NDIS: However, these are minimal safeguards [because] mistreatment of people with intellectual disability seldom lead to criminal convictions.
Cleard.life response: Sadly, this is true. Therefore, Referee comments and a Police check should not be used as the basis of any suitability screening determination alone. It should not be considered even the barest of minimum safeguarding.
NDIS: The more safeguards in place the better.
Cleard.life response: True, but there is a risk/cost analysis that should be done. If the clearance costs $10,713 (like an official AGSVA TSPV clearance does) and takes 18 months, then can we say the 'more the better'? No.
The good news is, our service covers more than 10 dimensions of a person’s background and can be done for a minute fraction of that cost.
For example, our Background Suitability Interview Questions relate to:
Background & Family structure
Education & Employment
Allegiance & Loyalty
NDIS: Regular, thorough screening is essential.
Cleard.life response: We agree. But what is regular and what is thorough? We would define thorough as at least checking 10 dimensions in a person’s background and 10 years of history. What is regular? Is it 12 months, 2, 5 or 10 years? Is the review/revalidation the same as an initial? Having access to real-time ‘black-mark’ governmental / quasi-governmental databases is an important and valuable technological step / aspiration – but it contains the same limitations as admitted previously concerning police checks. However, when a black mark (or to mix metaphors, a red flag comes up), it needs to be followed up with a “review-for-cause” one-on-one interview with an expert in a timely manner. Will it?
NDIS: Predators will look for areas to exploit vulnerable people. The more rigorous the screening the more an inappropriate person will be deterred from seeking this out as an area of employment.
Cleard.life response: This is true. And that is why having a national security vetting agency conducting components of the process is an invaluable tool to develop market capability and a recruitment screening solution that is effective, timely and value-for-money.
NDIS: Employers have varied levels of knowledge and understanding about issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault (e.g. grooming dynamics etc.), and may not always have the competencies to make the judgement in such situations. A specialist organisation like [sic] operates for the New South Wales Working With Children Check is a better option.
Cleard.life response: This is true. And Judgements and bias vary greatly. And that is why having a specialist national security vetting agency conduct the interview & suitability risk assessment, ensuring that there is a consistent approach to adjudications, is an invaluable tool.
NDIS: How will the decision be made: the screening process will assess whether or not, on the balance of probabilities, a person would pose an unacceptable risk. It will take into account information such as convictions, including spent and quashed convictions; other police/ court information, such as current or pending charges; Apprehended Violence Orders, Child Protection Orders and child protection information; international police checks for those who have worked overseas, when feasible; and workplace misconduct, which comes to light through complaints and serious incident reporting. The assessment of risk will ensure that people who have committed offences in the past that have no bearing on their current ability to safely support a person with disability will not be excluded from the workforce.
Cleard.life response: Exactly “HOW” are these risk assessments done, and to which standards or guidelines does each case rely on or look to? We would recommend that the suitability risk assessment and the screening determination be linked directly to the Attorney Generals’ Suitability and Adjudicative Guidelines (inside the Protective Security Framework Policy – PSPSF). More than 350,000 APS staff and their contractors have undergone their security clearances using this formula. For example, filter all know “issues” through:
Guideline A: External loyalties, influences and associations
Guideline B: Personal relationships and conduct
Guideline C: Financial considerations
Guideline D: Alcohol and drug usage
Guideline E: Criminal history and conduct
Guideline F: Security attitudes and violations, and
Guideline G: Mental health disorders
Then the risk assess the Candidate using the AG’s “Suitability Factors”:
To reach a consensus and conclusion that 350,000+ people have already attained, in order to return a Result:
NDIS: Linkages: providers will need to develop effective recruitment and selection processes to ensure they hire workers with the right attitudes and capabilities for particular roles, as well as effective ongoing management and supervision. Referee checking will remain a core responsibility of employers.
Cleard.life response: We would be interested in the DSS/NDS/NDIS introduce our offering to providers to ensure that effective recruitment occurs, and that proper referee checking is done.
NDIS: Linkages: the NDIS complaints commissioner will support best practice approaches to complaints handling. The NDIS senior practitioner will support delivery of best practice behaviour support. Quality assurance requirements will assist registered providers to identify weaknesses, build capability and drive continuous improvement.
Cleard.life response: We hope that our input will help to drive continuous improvement.
NDIS: The NDIS registrar has a role to working collaboratively with providers to build market capability.
Cleard.life response: We hope that our input will help to build market capability.
Providers, please contact us on (02) 6171-4171 for a no obligation, confidential discussion.
More articles that maybe of interest: