After almost 3 years of advocacy, we are thrilled by the news that volunteers in NDIS risk assessed roles can now apply online for their FREE screening check. This has been a key focus of our advocacy efforts for a number of years, with significant input from key stakeholders in the community: our members, volunteer-involving organisations, and volunteers across the state.
What is the NDIS Screening Check?
The NDIS Screening Check is a higher level of screening required for volunteers supporting people with a disability in risk assessed roles. For some time, the screening process for volunteers has been a manual one, requiring volunteers to first apply for a fee waiver and then for the check itself.
The new process is almost the same as for paid NDIS workers – except that the checks are free for volunteers. This should make the screening process much quicker and easier for volunteers.
The new online NDIS volunteer portal reflects what can be achieved through ongoing and persistent advocacy. As the state peak body, we embrace the opportunity to be a voice for the sector and forge supportive and collaborative relationships with government and other decision makers.
On 1 February 2021, the Worker Screening Act 2020 (the Act) replaced the Working with Children Act 2005. This provided a single framework for conducting checks for both National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) workers and volunteers and people engaged in child-related work.
The purpose of the Act is to assist in protecting children and vulnerable people from harm by ensuring that people who work with, or care for them, are subject to a screening process. This requires volunteers and employees intending to work with children or who provide services under the NDIS to undergo a national criminal history check and screening process in order to obtain a Working with Children Check (WWC check) or NDIS check. Applications for WWC checks and NDIS checks are processed by Service Victoria.
In December 2020, prior to the new Act coming into force, Volunteering Victoria made a submission to the Department of Justice calling for free screening checks for NDIS volunteers. Following our submission and discussions with the Worker Screening Unit (WSU), the Act made provision for a two-step, manual process for NDIS volunteers to apply for free screening checks.
For some time, volunteers, volunteer-involving organisations and NDIS clients have been impacted by and subject to considerable delays in the processing of the checks, primarily because of the tedious manual process. Additionally, NDIS volunteers were not considered in the initial design of the check process and it failed to anticipate the large numbers of volunteers in these roles. While we have worked closely with the WSU since early 2021 and they have attempted to expedite the checks, this has been a significant barrier to volunteer involvement in the disability services sector.
More information about NDIS Screening Checks can be found on our website via the link below.