The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS/the Scheme) is being rolled out nationally over three years from 2016 to 2019. Once fully implemented, the NDIS will provide about 460,000 Australians aged under 65, who have permanent and significant disability, with funding for supports and services. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is an independent statutory agency responsible for implementing the NDIS.
The NDIA has a Fraud Strategy Statement which states that:
- The NDIA has strengthened its fraud control arrangements to protect the Scheme and the Agency from exploitation through fraud. The NDIA and Commonwealth Government will not tolerate fraud or the misuse of funds intended to support people with disability.
The Commonwealth Government is aware of the need to enhance its response to fraud, noting that the 2019–20 Budget included ‘$16.4 million over two years for a targeted approach to tackling fraud’.
Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) performance audits have shown that schemes similar to the NDIS have posed fraud risks and implementation challenges. The ANAO’s financial auditing of the NDIA has identified specific fraud risks relating to third party providers. There is also a risk that people committing fraud can move between government programs, for example from the family day care sector.8 In developing its fraud control program the NDIA must comply with the Fraud Rule, however, as a corporate entity, the Commonwealth’s Fraud Policy and Fraud Guidance are not mandatory for it as they are for non-corporate entities. This is despite the NDIA receiving public funds for a public purpose.
These risks, along with the scale of the NDIA, which will receive an estimated $20.209 billion in 2019–20, led to the prioritisation of an audit of the NDIA’s fraud control program. The ANAO has an ongoing performance audit program covering the NDIS, with the previous audits focused on participant access decision making controls and the management of the transition of the disability services market.