Understanding the NDIS Standard for Governance and Operational Management


The Practice Standards and Quality Indicators provide the regulatory framework within which all disability providers are required to operate. For many however, particularly those new to NDIS, they can be a little daunting. In this article, we unpick one part of the Practice Standards, Governance and Operational Management, to understand what it means for your organisation.

The operational management part of the Standard is relatively straight forward. This refers to all of the systems you have in place to deliver your services and maintain a high level of quality and safety. Operational management encompasses training, auditing, performance managing staff, seeking feedback, and roster management, to name a few.

But what about governance. This is a more ‘slippery’ concept to get your head around. It basically means your leadership and the quality expectations you set across your company. There are some ideas central to the concept of governance that we need to understand:

  • Being aware - in order to establish ‘robust governance’, as the Standard requires, it’s important the company owners and senior managers are informed and critically aware of their external landscape. This means being aware of the legislation relevant to your operations and the requirements they place upon you. It also means being aware of the risks you face in your operations, both externally and internally. In my company, for example, I’ve created a Legal Register which lists all the legislation that applies to my operations and explains its impact and requirement. I’ve also created a Risk Register which lists all actual and potential risks we face, what their impact could be and what we need to do to reduce or avoid those risks. With this level of critical awareness, I can set the standards and expectations across my company effectively.

  • Structure – robust governance can’t be maintained effectively by one person. This is why this Practice Standard refers to ‘a defined structure’; the Senior Management Team that will lead the company, uphold its standards and manage its critical functions and workforce. The complexity of the structure depends on the scale of the company, the Standard recognises that, but even small companies would be advised to begin shaping their structure early in their development journey. 

  • Skills and knowledge – in order to maintain robust governance, the leaders and managers in an organisation must have adequate preparation and training. The outcomes for this Standard mention this twice. It doesn’t need much explanation, but it is worth underlining how important this is in how the organisation performs.

Finally, perhaps the most important point about governance in relation to NDIS is consumer involvement.  The first outcome under this Standard is that people with disabilities will contribute to the governance of the organisation.  This means that, as you are setting the quality expectations and establishing your leadership and senior management responsibilities, you need to work collaboratively with your participants.  Work out how to involve participants in your decision-making and operational management.  Then, crucially, work out ways of evidencing you are doing so.

Insequa works with NDIS providers to help them manage compliance with the Practice Standards and Quality Indicators. We can serve as your ‘critical friend’ in appraising your compliance to identify areas of concern and opportunities for improvement. Please contact us at support@centroassist.com.au if you would like to find out more.

Teresa Dao