Interjurisdictional responses to the Physical and Sexual Abuse (PSA) Insurance Market Failure

Commencing in July 2021, PeakCare has hosted a number of forums to raise awareness and explore issues of concern for non-government organisations impacted by the recent physical and sexual abuse (PSA) insurance market failure. These forums included one that was held on 29th July 2021 for Board members of non-government organisations addressing the implications that were specific to the roles and responsibilities exercised by Boards. An information pack released by PeakCare on 1st July 2021 continues to provide a useful description of the factors that led to the emergence of this situation.

As you may be aware, this is a national issue with non-government organisations operating within multiple States and Territories having been impacted. Those that have been impacted include non-government providers of out-of-home care services for children and young people in care and youth homelessness services. It is an issue that may also impact disability service providers funded via the NDIS.

Across the country, non-government providers have raised serious concerns about exposure to uninsured abuse claims and some have advised of consideration being given to exiting their contracts with various Government agencies. Some jurisdictions, such as Queensland, have developed interim arrangements for non-government organisations that have been unable to obtain or renew their PSA insurance policies pending the development of a long-term solution.

Steps being taken to develop a long-term solution

Establishment of an Inter-jurisdictional working group
In light of this being an issue of national concern, an inter-jurisdictional working group (IJWG) has been formed to identify feasible long-term options for a national response to the lack of available PSA insurance for out-of-home care and youth homelessness service providers in Australia. As this is an issue which may also impact some NDIS funded providers of accommodation outside the family home for children and young people, the IJWG must also consider the needs of these providers in the design of the long-term solution.

Establishment of the IJWG was endorsed by the national Community Services Ministers’ meeting in August 2021, and the Community Services Ministers serve as the reporting body for the IJWG.

The IJWG is co-chaired by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and the Tasmanian Department of Communities. Its membership is comprised of departmental representatives of line agencies responsible for out-of-home care and/or youth homelessness services from every state and territory, as well as representatives from the Commonwealth. Click here to read the IJWG’s terms of reference.

Establishment of a Non-Government Advisory Group
The IJWG has established a Non-Government Advisory Group to support the work of the IJWG in designing and delivering the long-term solution. The Advisory Group is comprised of non-government service provider, peak body and insurance sector representatives from across Australia, as well as representatives from the IJWG.

The purpose of the Advisory Group, which first met on 9 June 2022, is to:

  • provide expert input to the IJWG on key aspects of the project to identify a sustainable long-term solution to the issue of access to PSA insurance
  • represent the interests of non-government stakeholders in the development and implementation of a solution, and
  • assist in ensuring that any solution identified is fit for purpose.

Click here to read the Advisory Group’s terms of reference.

It is noted that Queensland’s representation on the Advisory Group is provided by Mr Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland and Mr Garth Morgan, Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Aboriginal and Torrs Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.

It is also noted that consultations to be undertaken with non-government service providers will not be restricted to the consultations that occur with the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will operate in addition to wider service provider consultations.

Engagement of Finity Consulting
Following the completion of a procurement process undertaken by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice on behalf of the IJWG in late June 2022, Finity Consulting Pty Limited has been engaged to support the work of the IJWG. Finity has a strong track-record in delivering quality services, extensive experience consulting in insurance and related sectors and identifying insurance-like solutions.

Finity will deliver work in two key phases:

  • Phase 1: Identification of potential solutions and a recommendation of a preferred option by mid-August 2022, and
  • Phase 2: Development of a concept implementation plan of the preferred option by mid-November 2022.

Both phases will be informed by broad consultation beginning with government representatives in June, followed by insurance industry representatives and non-government service providers.

An overview of the Finity’s proposed project plan and approach to consultations can found here.

It is envisaged that consultation will be undertaken through three mechanisms:

  1. Informal interviews
  2. Data requests, and
  3. Interactive workshops.

It is anticipated that an interim report for Phase 1 will be completed by Finity by mid-July following which an assessment will be undertaken to determine whether any viewpoints are missing which should also be included within the analysis.

Representatives of non-government service providers who attended one or more of the PeakCare forums may be contacted by the Finity team during the first or subsequent phases of the project.
 
To monitor the progress being made in the development of a long-term solution
In order for all non-government service providers to monitor the progress being made in developing a long-term solution, this website – NGO physical and sexual abuse insurance: inter-jurisdictional working group | Family & Community Services (nsw.gov.au) – is being used by all jurisdictions to regularly post updated information and consistent advice. This includes the information contained within this email. Please check this website regularly.

If you have any further comments or queries about the information contained within this email, please forward them to Lindsay Wegener, PeakCare’s Executive Director (lwegener@peakcare.org.au).