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Disability Services Act

Introduction
Background to the Act
Rights under the Act
Criminal history screening
Complaints management
The Regulations
How the Act affects community workers
Where to Find the Act and Regulations

IntroductionBack to top

The Disability Services Act 2006 (Qld) took effect on 1 July 2006.

The Government suggests that the Disability Services Act "provides the strongest foundation Queenslanders have ever had for promoting the rights of people with a disability, increasing their wellbeing and encouraging their participation in the life of the community."

Under the Act, workers and volunteers in funded non-government disability services must undergo criminal history screening every two years.

Background to the ActBack to top

Disability Services Queensland (DSQ) is responsible for providing leadership in disability services and programs for people with a disability and their families and carers. Some services are delivered by Disability Services Queensland itself, while others are delivered by non-government organisations funded by Disability Services Queensland. In the legislation, these are referred to as 'funded non-government service providers'.

In 2004-05 more than 16,000 Queenslanders with a disability received services delivered or funded by Disability Services Queensland.

The past decade has brought significant change in the Queensland disability sector, with the development of new service approaches, community engagement processes and record increases in Queensland Government funding for disability services. The Disability Services Act 2006 was developed in response to these changes. It provides a contemporary framework for delivering services and meeting community expectations of quality and accountability.

Rights under the ActBack to top

The Disability Services Act 2006 is based on an expanded declaration of the rights of people with a disability.

The Act retains the existing rights of people with a disability from the previous legislation, stating:

All people with a disability have the same human rights as other members of society and should be empowered to exercise their rights.

As well as affirming these rights, the Act articulates some specific rights for people with a disability. These include rights when using disability services, such as the right to receive services:

in a way that respects the confidentiality of personal information in a safe, accessible built environment appropriate to the person's needs.

The Act now specifically recognises the right to live a life free from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

The new legislation encourages all Queenslanders to promote inclusive principles within their own communities.

Access to services
People with a disability have the right to equal access to services available to other members of the Queensland community.

The service delivery principles in the Disability Services Act 2006 encourage service providers to consider the needs of people with a disability when they design and deliver services.

Safeguarding the rights of people with a disability
The Disability Services Act 2006 strengthens the rights of people with a disability by introducing measures to safeguard those rights and improve the quality of services funded by Disability Services Queensland.

These measures include:

recognition of service standards and a process for certification which occurs through the Disability Sector Quality System
pre-approval of service providers before they seek funding from Disability Services Queensland
criminal history checks for staff working in services funded by Disability Services Queensland
The Act also enables Disability Services Queensland to respond rapidly and effectively to any concern for the safety of people with a disability receiving services funded by the department.

Criminal history screeningBack to top

Criminal history screening is designed to increase the safety of people with a disability when they are accessing services.

Under the new Act, workers and volunteers in funded non-government disability
services must undergo criminal history screening every two years. The department will conduct this screening in response to applications lodged by service providers and meet the costs.

Disability Services Queensland staff and volunteers will also undergo criminal history checks every two years.

It will be unlawful for a person to work or volunteer for a funded non-government service provider without a criminal history check.

People working in funded non-government disability services will be issued with a card that verifies they have had a criminal history check within the past two years and are lawfully able to work or volunteer in these services.

Complaints managementBack to top

Disability Services Queensland currently operates a complaints management system to investigate and resolve complaints in cooperation with funded non-government service providers.

The Act recognises that people with a disability and others may make complaints or raise concerns if they are unhappy with a service provided or funded by the Department.

Under most circumstances, complaints are resolved collaboratively and locally. Where this is not achievable, the Department will have the ability to fully investigate the complaints it receives. In some circumstances - such as when it is necessary to protect a person from abuse, neglect or exploitation - the Department may enter premises, seek information and ask questions to investigate a complaint.

The RegulationsBack to top

The Regulations prescribe a range of requirements about issues including:

Requirement to keep a policy
Funding agreement
Requirement to implement a policy
Policies to take account of differences, customs and diversity
Election policy for governing body
Induction policy for executive officers of governing body
Conflict of interest policy
Financial delegations policy
Accounting and financial record keeping
Budget policy
Abuse, neglect or exploitation policy
Eligibility policy
Complaints policy
Provider must keep register of policies
Provider must report certain data
Insurance cover
Documents relating to proof of engaged personís identity
Records

How the Act affects community workersBack to top

As a community worker your actions and those of the community organisation you work with may be governed and regulated by the Act. If this is the case you should understand how the Act works and how it impacts on your daily activities.

Where to Find the Act and RegulationsBack to top

Disability Services Act 2006
Disability Services Regulation 2006