Interview with Leon Byner on FiveAA Adelaide

E&OE

Leon Byner:
Stuart, thanks for coming on.

Minister Robert:
Leon, pleasure.

Leon Byner:
We've got a number of inquiries, we got a royal commission, and now we've got this sort of stuff. How does it happen, that somebody is working without proper accreditation, let alone supervision or screening I mean what's going on here?

Minister Robert:
Well, it shouldn't happen, Leon. In short, there's a national worker screening bill that's passed the Federal Parliament to get a nationally consistent approach, because there's no point one state screening workers and they just moved to another state. So all that's passed federally we're just waiting for state jurisdictions to finalise their particular law changes to come into step federally, and it's one of the reasons why the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission was established and one of the reasons why the Commissioner has ordered a review into the Commission itself just to make sure no stone is left unturned in this tragic case of Ms Smith.

Leon Byner:

Minister the problem with all this is, it's all very clumsy. A lot of things shouldn't have happened, Minister, but they have. So we're all looking into ourselves to try and find out why. But, again I just repeat what I said yesterday it looks as if this has been set up in a way where you can't finger anybody because it's somebody else's fault. We have to get through this and one of the ways I suspect is this if it's a state law, the state oversees it. If it's a federal law, the feds over see it. Because if we don't do that stuff someone will talk to someone else and then nobody will know. And then, when these revelations come out everybody throws their hands up in the air that's not a perfect solution is it?

Minister Robert:
Goodness no. And likewise, here, there is a transition from state based care to the NDIS and that happened in 2018, and there's 365,000 participants now in this sort of world first scheme. So the state will have to look into everything that occurred prior to 2018 and of course the Quality and Safeguards Commission will look into everything that occurred after 2018. It is one of the reasons why the Commission has engaged Alan Robertson SC to review every aspect of the regulator, in terms of what's happened, including that the handover from the state to the federal government in 2018, to ensure that we get to the bottom of this and the good thing about the regulator, having an independent review of itself, which I think shows extraordinary maturity by the regulator, that report will be made public, at the end of August, so we'll have a good understanding of that regulatory function.

Leon Byner:
Minister somebody is dead. They shouldn't be. Where does the buck stop for this or don't we know yet?

Minister Robert:
Let's let the investigation come to this conclusion, there are a range of investigations, as there should be. South Australian police are involved. The Quality and Safeguards Commission which is the regulator is looking into it. And of course there is an independent review of the regulator asked for by the regulator itself. Let's not jump to conclusions. Let's follow through the process, because it's all about identifying what went wrong, importantly though, to ensure that we look to see this doesn't happen again. That is that is incredibly important with 365,000 Australians in the NDIS. Leon, more than 4.4 million Australians have some kind of disability and it's important we as a community are seeking to look after that entire cohort of vulnerable Australians.

Leon Byner:
How do we know it won’t happened again?

Minister Robert:
The key thing is to have appropriate regulation in place and this is one of the reasons we bought in the Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Leon Byner:
I have to respectfully disagree, I think you need more than that. It is no good having a regulation if you've got nobody who wants to enforce it. And that's been the problem. We've had regulations coming out of ears minister over this, but they haven't been enforced. So that's really the issue isn't it enforcement, and who?

Minister Robert:
Well the regulator enforces the regulations that's their job. So, for example in the, in the last 18 months, the regulator has banned 13 entities, organisations and or individuals. It gets reported. For the first time in the nation's history we now have accurate reporting of things like reportable instances, or restrictive practices. So we've shone the light onto what's happening across the nation within disability within the NDIS because we have an independent regulator with teeth, and this regulator is acting– we've seen that over the last 18 months. And as more of the jurisdictions come on board, for example WA is not fully on board with the Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Leon Byner:
Okay, let me ask you a question, let’s say there is a provider who is found wanting badly, whose job is it to go in there and say, sorry you have not lived up to what you've been required to do. You're finished, you’re shut. Who does that?

Minister Robert:
The Quality and Safeguards Commission which is the regulator, and they've done it 13 times the last 18 months. They can knock that provider out, ban them from providing services to the NDIS, or they can do that to individuals, sole traders, or other providers, so that exists.

Leon Byner:
Before Ann Marie Smith’s death came to light. did you have any inkling that there was a problem, not so much just with Ms Smith, but other areas of this whole aged care nursing providing. Did you have any idea there was a problem?

Minister Robert:
Government didn't and one of the reasons that the Commission is investigating is to understand did anyone else in the system have an inkling about what was happening, and to ask questions such as, is it appropriate for a single provider with a single carer to be providing support to a single individual is that still appropriate, if it can't be governed correctly. And these are the outcomes of what the Commission's inquiry will look at.

Leon Byner:
All right, Minister Stuart Robert, Minister for the NDIS thank you for joining us today.

Minister Robert:
Pleasure, Leon.

[ENDS]