The Victorian Government is committed to a culture of zero tolerance of abuse across the disability sector.
Victoria has implemented legislation to strengthen oversight of the disability sector and to promote a culture of zero tolerance of abuse.
The Disability Amendment Act 2017 (the amending Act) forms part of the Victorian Government's response to the Parliamentary inquiry into abuse in disability services.
The Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing has also requested that the Disability Services Commissioner (the Commissioner) inquire into and investigate:
- Incident reports of assault, injury and poor quality of care received by the Department of Health and Human Services (the department)
- Deaths of people with a disability received by the department, as well as those referred to the Commissioner by the State Coroner
The Minister will also request that the Commissioner investigate referrals from the Community Visitors Board.
Further information about the referrals can be found under Better safeguards for people with disabilities on the Human services incidents page, on the Funded Agency Channel website.
Overview of the amending Act
The amending Act commenced on 16 August 2017 and amends the Disability Act 2006 to:
- Formalise a principle of zero tolerance of abuse
- Strengthen the oversight powers of the Disability Services Commissioner over the disability sector.
The amending Act enhances the safeguards for people with a disability until the NDIS National Quality and Safeguards Framework starts in mid-2019.
It also supports other government reforms, such as the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme and a proposed accreditation and registration scheme for disability workers.
New oversight powers for the Commissioner
The amending Act strengthens the powers, obligations and functions of the Commissioner in a number of ways including:
- Previously the Commissioner was largely a complaints body. The amending Act gives the Commissioner new powers to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect without the need for a complaint.
- New evidence gathering powers to conduct investigations. This includes authorised officers who will be able to visit and inspect premises to investigate matters.
- A new offence for unreasonably obstructing or hindering the Commissioner, or authorised officers, when exercising inspection and search powers.
- Enabling the Commissioner to share information with other bodies, including the State Coroner, Victoria Police, the Public Advocate and the department. This is designed to reduce duplication and ensure the most appropriate body takes action.
For information for people with a disability, see Safer services for people with a disability on our Services website