National Disability Insurance Scheme Fraud

Ministerial Statement

I was concerned to read an article in The Australian newspaper of 31 August 2018 about a South Australian resident who lost the whole of her core funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme to a fraud involving a trader from Western Australia. People with a disability rely on their funding arrangements under the NDIS to obtain essential support and services, and to hear that shonky operators are seeking to take advantage of people in that situation is quite disturbing.

The commonwealth has established an NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, which commenced operations in South Australia and New South Wales from 1 July this year, with other states to follow. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is a new independent agency established to improve the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services. Its aim is to regulate the NDIS market, provide national consistency, promote safety and quality services, resolve problems and identify areas for improvement.

A complaints commissioner is part of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. Most NDIS providers do their best to provide quality supports and services to people with disability, but issues can occur. The NDIS commissioner can take complaints about services or supports that were not provided in a safe and respectful way, or services and supports that were not delivered to an appropriate standard.

In addition, the commonwealth has established an NDIS fraud task force. I can advise the house that this task force is a partnership between the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the Department of Human Services and the Australian Federal Police. The task force will focus on high risk and serious criminal activity potentially targeting the NDIS whilst also building fraud prevention and detection capabilities within the NDIA.

In South Australia, a Disability Reform Program Steering Committee was established to oversee the transition of disability services to the NDIS. A subgroup of that steering committee is the quality and safeguarding subgroup, which is chaired by the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs. This subgroup is comprised of representatives of government agencies and statutory authorities that will provide assistance and services to people with a disability or who deal with complaints about traders or practitioners who provide goods and services to people with a disability.

The subgroup has been engaging with the NDIS complaints commissioner about information and data sharing, referral pathways for complaints about service providers and education opportunities. This is to ensure that the South Australian regulators and agencies can work with the commonwealth to assist people with a disability to access complaint options and dispute resolution mechanisms in a simple and timely way. This subgroup is exploring options for information sharing, information and referral pathways to the commonwealth where conduct comes to the attention that relates to NDIS-funded services.

Our Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and other members of the subgroup can also refer matters to the task force. Complaints about an NDIS-funded service can be made to the NDIS complaints commissioner by telephoning 1800 024 544 or lodging a complaint online. The NDIS fraud task force have established a dedicated fraud hotline, and anyone with information about suspected fraud involving the NDIS should contact the fraud hotline on 1800 650 717. I would urge members to refer any of their constituents, if required, to those contacts.