Incident Management: NDIS Provider Governance and Management


Published: 18 July 2021

All registered providers of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services are expected to meet specific criteria relating to incident management (NDIS 2020a).

Incident management is crucial to ensuring the provision of safe and high-quality care (NDIS 2020a).

Incident Management in the NDIS Practice Standards

Incident management is a requirement of the NDIS Practice Standards under Core Module 2: Provider Governance and Operational Management.

This Practice Standard aims to ensure that:

  • NDIS participants are safeguarded by the provider’s incident management system
  • Incidents are acknowledged, responded to, appropriately managed and learned from.

(NDIS 2020b)

NDIS providers must meet the following quality indicators:

  • The provider maintains an incident management system that is relevant and proportional to the size and scale of the provider, as well as the scope and complexity of the services being delivered. The system complies with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Incident Management and Reportable Incidents) Rules 2018
  • NDIS participants are provided with information related to incident management, including how incidents that involve the participant have been managed
  • There is demonstrated continuous improvement of the provider’s incident management system through:
    • Regular reviews of policies and procedures
    • Reviews of the causes, handling and outcomes of incidents
    • Input from participants and staff
    • The use of feedback
  • All staff are aware of, trained in, and comply with incident management procedures.

(NDIS 2020b)

What is an Incident?

Firstly, let’s define the term incident.

Under the NDIS, an incident is an act, omission, event or circumstance that meets certain criteria. An incident may be:

  • An act, omission, event or circumstance that occurred in connection to the provision of care to an NDIS participant that did, or could have, resulted in harm to the participant
  • An act performed by an NDIS participant in connection with the provision of care that caused serious harm, or the risk of serious harm, to another person
  • A reportable incident that occurred, or was alleged to have occurred, in connection to the provision of care to an NDIS participant.

(NDIS 2020a)

The phrase ‘in connection with’ is purposely broad in order to cover incidents that:

  • Occur during the provision of supports of services
  • Occur due to the provision, alteration or withdrawal of care
  • Occur out of the provision of care, but not necessarily during the provision of care.

(NDIS 2019)

Where Might Incidents Occur?

  • The NDIS participant’s home
  • A residential care setting
  • Supported accommodation
  • The premises of the provider
  • In the community, where the provider is supporting the participant to access the community.

(NDIS 2019)

What is a Reportable Incident Under the NDIS?

Read: Protecting Clients From Violence, Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Discrimination

Reportable incidents are actual or alleged events that the NDIS Commission must be notified of. These include the following events that occur in connection with the provision of care:

Reportable Incident Examples
Death of an NDIS participant
  • Any deaths that occur in connection with the provision of NDIS supports, including:
    • Natural deaths
    • Unnatural deaths
    • Expected deaths
    • Unexpected deaths
Serious injury of an NDIS participant
  • Fractures
  • Burns
  • Deep cuts
  • Extensive bruising
  • Head or brain injuries (e.g. concussion, loss of consciousness)
  • Injuries requiring admission to hospital
Abuse or neglect of an NDIS participant
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Systemic abuse
  • Grossly inadequate care
  • Failure to access medical care
  • Neglect by a supervisor
  • A reckless act or failure to act
  • Failure to protect a participant from abuse
Unlawful sexual or physical contact with, or assault of, an NDIS participant (unless where contact is made but it is considered negligible)
  • Sexual assault or coercion into sexual acts
  • Indecent assault (e.g. non-consensual kissing or touching)
  • Unjustified physical force or causing reasonable fear of unjustified physical force
  • Physical harm caused by recklessness
  • Assault (e.g. hitting, pushing, shoving, spitting, throwing objects, making threats of physical harm)
  • Common assault (where physical contact is made but no injury is sustained)
Sexual misconduct committed against, or in the presence of, an NDIS participant
  • Unlawful sexual conduct (e.g. acts of indecency, filming for sexual purposes without consent, pornography offences)
  • Sexually explicit comments or overtly sexual behaviour (e.g. inappropriate sexual conversations, exposure to sexual behaviour, watching someone undress when supervision is not required)
  • Crossing professional boundaries with sexual implications
  • Grooming (e.g. inappropriate gift-giving, giving special favours, inappropriate touching, inappropriate personal communication)
Unauthorised use of restrictive practice against an NDIS participant

(NDIS 2019)

These incidents must be reported to the NDIS Commission within 24 hours of key personnel from the provider becoming aware of the event or alleged event (within five business days for restrictive practices) (NDIS 2020a).

The NDIS and the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS)

If you are providing NDIS supports in a government-funded residential aged care facility, you must also comply with the requirements of the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS). Ensure that you are aware of your duties and responsibilities under both schemes (ACQSC 2021).

If a reportable incident occurs that affects someone who is both an NDIS participant and a recipient of government-funded residential aged care services, you must notify both the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission of the event (ACQSC 2021).

However, note that the definition of a ‘reportable incident’, as well as the required timeframes for making a notification and the information required, may differ between the NDIS and the SIRS (ACQSC 2021).

For more information on the SIRS, view the following resources:

Notification of Reportable Incidents to the NDIS

Incident Management: NDIS Provider Governance and Management notifying ndis of reportable incident
Reportable incidents must be reported to the NDIS Commission within 24 hours.

The notification must include:

  • Name and details of the NDIS provider
  • Name and details of the person making the notification
  • Name and details of the people involved in the reportable incident (including the NDIS participant)
  • Name and details of any subjects of the allegation
  • Description of the reportable incident
  • Time, date and place of the incident (if known)
  • Description of the impact or harm caused to the NDIS participant (except for cases of death)
  • Immediate actions that were taken in response to the incident, including:
    • Actions related to the health, safety and wellbeing of the NDIS participant
    • Any medical treatment that was provided
    • Whether the incident was reported to police or other authorities.

(NDIS 2019)

What is an Incident Management System?

The term incident management system describes a group of processes and procedures that are used to manage incidents. If implemented effectively, an incident management system may reduce the risk of preventable death or injury (NDIS 2020).

NDIS providers are responsible for establishing and maintaining an incident management system that addresses any incidents that occur during the provision of services and supports (NDIS 2020a).

An appropriate incident management system should include procedures for:

  • Identifying incidents
  • Assessing incidents
  • Recording incidents
  • Managing incidents
  • Resolving incidents
  • Reporting incidents.

(NDIS 2020a)

The Incident Management Process

  1. A staff member identifies an incident or is informed of an allegation of an incident.
  2. The staff member immediately acts to ensure the affected person’s safety and wellbeing.
  3. The staff member follows incident management system processes, including:
    • Reporting the incident to relevant personnel
    • Protecting any evidence
    • Notifying the affected person’s family or support personnel
    • Contacting relevant authorities (e.g. police)
  4. Relevant personnel conduct an assessment of the incident.
  5. Relevant personnel decide whether the incident is reportable.
    • If the incident is reportable:
      • The NDIS Commission is notified and the reportable incident process is followed
      • The provider investigates the incident or undertakes other actions as directed by the NDIS Commission
      • The provider takes action in response to the incident
      • The NDIS Commission is kept updated on the situation. Any requests or directions from the Commission are followed
    • If the incident is not reportable:
      • The provider takes action in response to the incident.

(NDIS 2019)

Corrective Actions in Response to Reportable Incidents

While some actions will not require further action to be taken, some situations may require corrective steps such as:

  • Disciplinary action
  • Staff dismissal
  • Staff training or education
  • Service environment modification
  • The development or amendment of policies and procedures
  • Changes to the method of service delivery
  • Improvements in practice.

(NDIS 2019)

Additional Resources


Test Your Knowledge

Question 1 of 3

A client passes away while receiving NDIS services. When does the NDIS Commission need to be notified of this incident?


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