Federal Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Bill Shorten, has said he is deeply concerned about allegations that criminal gangs are stealing millions of dollars from the government’s disability scheme.

The allegations were made by the head of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Michael Phelan, in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 August. Phelan is calling for the creation of a specialist multi-agency taskforce to tackle organized crime gangs using coercion and other criminal tactics such as account access to steal around 20 per cent of the annual national cost of the NDIS- it of 30 billion dollars.

Speaking to ABC Radio National on August 15, Shorten said he had been concerned about the issue for the past two years while he held the shadow ministry for the Scheme, although he noted that his estimates for the spin-off were much higher. small about five. percent.

“I think there is a problem. I said it before the election and since the election, I’ve started alerting colleagues, pushing the agency, talking to ministers of state about the need for government agencies to work together to fight the scourge of fraud,” Shorten said.

Shorten revealed that he saw up to three possible ways of profiting from the system, including organized criminal gangs, ghosting (false invoices and fake customers) and then the padding of invoices by those working with the Scheme.

“So I think there are a number of different ways,” Shorten said. “And the other thing is, although it’s not fraud in the sense of criminal gangs, just people paying too much for services, stops. And I just – you know, don’t rip off a disabled person on the Scheme just because you think it’s taxpayers’ money. In fact, there are few services that go to the people who need them the most.”

The Minister signaled that he would review the Scheme’s fraud investigation services to see if existing resource levels are adequate.

“If we need more resources, we will have to find them. Because honestly, it will pay for itself. If we can stop taking some of the money and spend more resources on fraud detection, it means we still have a better and more sustainable scheme and disabled people are getting those extra hours of therapy or home support or modification. which these fraudsters are currently denying,” he said.

This is not the first time there have been accounts of wrongdoing in the Disability Insurance Scheme, with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arresting and charging a man in June on suspicion of defrauding the Scheme.

According to a media release from Shorten, the man is alleged to have received more than $430,000 in NDIS payments over a five-month period to April, of which more than $314,000 was identified as fraudulently claimed.

“This action taken by the NDIA’s fraud team is evidence that this government will not allow the funding of our participants to be the target of any criminal activity,” Shorten said in June.

“I am very concerned that fraudulent transactions by organized crime are taking place and we remain committed to protecting participants and the scheme from criminals.”

The NDIS was established in 2011 by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government after an inquiry into disability services in Australia by the Productivity Commission recommended the development of such a scheme to support Australians suffering from permanent and significant disabilities.

Victoria Kelly-Clark


Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian-based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.

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