Special Fraud Squad to Protect NDIS from Rorts and Organised Crime
24 July 2018 at 4:30 pm
A special fraud task force has been formed to protect the multi-billion dollar National Disability Insurance Scheme from rorts and the grasp of organised crime.
Announcing the 100-member flying squad on Tuesday, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said: “We are putting criminals on notice. You come after the NDIS and we will come after you”.
The tough talking Tehan, as if to amplify the odium of such a crime, said anybody who defrauded the NDIS was “taking money from Australians with a disability”.
“The NDIS will only succeed with the support of the Australian people who fund it, and the NDIS fraud task force will help give people confidence their money is well spent,” Tehan said.
The government spent $8 billion on the NDIS last year and this figure would grow to $22 billion per annum by 2022.
Tehan told reporters in Canberra the task force, aided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), would prevent organised crime from infiltrating the scheme.
“We do not want that money going, in particular, to organised criminals who will seek to exploit, sadly, any system that the government puts in place,” he said.
.@DanTehanWannon : We do not want NDIS money to go to organised criminals who will seek to exploit any system that the government puts in place. Thus, we are establishing a NDIS fraud taskforce.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 23, 2018
Though standing alongside Tehan at the announcement, AFP Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said NDIS fraud had thus far been “minimal”.
However, Gaughan said: “We will put in place our full powers and our full capabilities to bring those responsible for the criminality to justice”.
As well as the AFP, the NDIS fraud task force would involve the Department of Human Services and the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Human Services Minister Michael Keenan issued a statement to say his department had extensive experience in fraud detection and prevention and would help ensure the NDIS supported people fairly.
“There is always a minority who will seek to exploit the system and we must remain vigilant to ensure the NDIS remains viable and that taxpayer funds are only supporting those who genuinely need it,” he said.
NDIS alleged fraud, another opportunity to undermine public confidence in our Scheme and in those legitimately on benefits, supports or insurance support. Dan Tehan says risk known to be “minimal” but gov needs to be clear its service providers not PwD under the Scheme.
— Ross Joyce (@AFDO_CEO) July 23, 2018
In response, Labor’s social services spokesperson Linda Burney said the government should have acted sooner to protect people with disability from NDIS fraud.
Burney pointed to an auditor-general report from January 2017 which said NDIS support payments were “susceptible to fraud”.
“The government has dropped the ball – they should have acted earlier to protect people with disability and taxpayers,” Burney said.
“There have been alarm bells for some time now, and there are no excuses for allowing fraud risk to undermine this incredibly important social reform.”