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What’s the go with participant venue risk assessments in the NDIS?

By Katrina Armstrong

Have you ever wondered like me about some of the scope creep around disability supports in the NDIS particularly when it comes to venue risk assessments?

Have you heard of disability support workers being asked to assess Every. Single. Venue? I have and I wonder where the fundamental principles of the NDIS have gone in the pursuit of managing risks to participants, in most cases so providers can demonstrate that they are complying with the practice standards. In many cases, also not fully appreciating that this butts directly up against dignity of risk, choice making and the right to a typical life in the community.

Venue risk assessments became a thing to ensure they were safe for people with complex needs such as behaviours of concern, or people with mobility requirements.

So, what’s so problematic about venue risk assessments being used so widely for many people with disability?

When we think about an everyday life for people with disability in the community, venue risk assessments run in the opposite direction.

I personally don’t do a risk assessment on every coffee shop, restaurant, theatre, or shop that I plan to go into….and you’re probably like me, who plans exactly which shop they want to go into in advance? Half the fun is picking a new place and checking out the entertainment and shops.

I trust that there are government regulations in place that for most people make these venues safe. These regulations include food safety, fire safety, and accessibility etc.

AND the exciting thing is, these same regulations also make venues safe for people with disability too. The only time you might want to check if a venue is safe for example, is by ringing in advance and making sure it is wheelchair accessible if it’s not obvious from looking at the website.

So, when would it be ok to do a venue risk assessment?

When there are potential risks for people that anyone in the community should be thinking about. A good example is taking someone for a swim when you don’t know the beach or the river. Or taking someone to a park near the water and the person has a history of getting themselves into trouble in water. Another example is running a group activity at a new venue, where you want to check it out to ensure it’s going to be suitable to meet everyone’s needs.

Other than these types of situations, people with disability need to have their full rights upheld and this means not patronising them every time they want to go somewhere new.

If you want to know more about best practice in risk management in the NDIS or ask us about our NDIS policies, please get in touch for a no obligation 15-minute discussion.
We look forward to hearing from you.