The task force set up to investigate fraud in the National Disability Insurance Scheme is under-resourced and dysfunctional, a whistleblower claims.
The federal government announced the establishment of National Disability Insurance Fraud Taskforce in July 2018, saying a squad of 100 officers would be set up to target people ripping off the national disability scheme and ensure a culture of integrity around the NDIS.
The task force announced its first arrest in October of that year.
Former federal police officer John Higgins says he joined the NDIA working for the taskforce last January.
Mr Higgins said when he left the agency in September it only had “10 or 15” members to cover the entire national disability scheme.
“Most of them are based in Melbourne and most of the fraud is taking place in the western suburbs of Sydney. So you have a great expense for even the fraud investigators to actually investigate the matters, but it’s simply too much fraud for too few people,” he told a media conference on Sunday.
Mr Higgins said he suggested boosting the number of investigators to a team in each capital city with a team leader and seven or eight investigators, but was told the agency was prepared to accept “somewhere along 10 per cent as being fraud”.
The management of the fraud department was “almost dysfunctional,” he said, adding he left the organisation in frustration.
Mr Higgins called for NDIA investigators to be resourced or to put money into the AFP to create teams.
The NDIA denied it had a 10 per cent tolerance level for fraud and said it was continuing to build its capability to respond to fraud, non-compliance and dishonesty in the NDIS.
“At no stage has the NDIA agreed that the Agency’s tolerance level for fraud was 10 per cent. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong,” it said in a statement on its website.
*This story originally ran in Community Care Review.
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