Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4100 ..
MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Wood, for the question. Let me say at the outset that this is an issue that Ministers with responsibility for disabilities are taking very seriously. There was a national agreement at a meeting of disability Ministers here just a matter of weeks ago which agreed that our offices would do more work in the area of abuse and neglect within disabilities to get some general guidelines as to how to deal with it. So, that is the first thing in the macro sense.
In the micro sense, I think it is worth taking you through some things that happen. It is routine that all incidents that occur in houses are recorded, no matter how big or how small they are. In the case of a minor incident, for example a slight bruise, a bump, something along those lines, the accommodation support manager is notified. Then the appropriate action is taken to try to avoid it happening in the future. Incident reports are kept in the client's file in a house. Follow-up action is recorded in the house communication book, as well as on the client's file. For more major incidents, the accommodation support manager is notified immediately. An accommodation support manager is on duty 24 hours a day. If necessary, the regional manager is notified. The director and regional managers are available after hours.
If it is suspected to be negligent behaviour by staff members, they are stood down immediately pending a detailed investigation. It is normal practice for the disability program through Community Care to inform me when a situation like that has occurred. There have been a number of such incidents. Mr Wood, I believe you were briefed on at least one of them relatively recently. Then, for a major incident, an external investigator is hired immediately to fully investigate the matter and provide a report which may be used later in disciplinary proceedings.
Depending on the nature of the incidents, of course, we look at the cause and change our processes in Community Care. Police are certainly notified where necessary. Staff is provided with stress debriefing when appropriate, certainly in the case of a death. Bereavement counselling is also provided. In the case of a death in a house, it is routine for police to be notified, irrespective of the cause.
The disability program over the last three years has had a major run of initiatives to try to improve this sort of area. They developed and implemented a comprehensive set of policies for the full participation of parents. They have reviewed and redrafted comprehensive policies, with full participation of parents. There has been extensive retraining of staff in those policies. Community Care has received accreditation by Australian Council of Health Care Standards, and that includes, importantly, constant review and implementation of quality improvement processes over a period. There are also traineeships in certificates for disability services. We have 23 of those per annum. Fifty per cent of staff are involved in them. There is a range of things that occur, but there is a proactive approach to avoid such incidents.
This is consistent with what is going on also in hospitals. I have spoken before about quality assurance in our hospitals, and there is financial assistance for us there through the health care agreement. We are also working as best we can for continued improvement in quality assurance within Disability Services. In spite of that, incidents