Allegations of 'hear no evil, see no evil' culture within NDIS watchdog

3 Jun 2020

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is calling for an urgent review into claims of a 'hear no evil, see no evil' culture within the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission in South Australia.

The call comes after the Centre Alliance spokesperson for Social Services raised allegations in Federal Parliament about serious systemic failings within the Commission raised by whistleblower former employees.

These failings allege a culture of discouraging active investigations into reportable incidents; long delays in triaging a huge caseload of incidents; no assistance to improve compliance through education; insufficient training for frontline staff; limited information sharing with state agencies and between teams within the Commission; and a directive not to make unannounced visits to care providers.

“It appears that the Commission is avoiding doing the job it has been specifically set up to do,” Rebekha said today.

“The allegations shared with me suggest there is no appetite for proactive compliance and frankly the Commission seems to take a ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ approach to regulation.

“I believe these allegations are backed by the interim report of the South Australian Government’s Safeguarding Taskforce into the shocking death of Ann Marie Smith.

“The report found that the Commission was ‘unclear about the handling of reports of matters of concern’ with a ‘gap in undertaking proactive visits to vet the performance of providers’.

“Having spoken to a number of former Commission employees, highly qualified individuals, I am deeply concerned that many more cases of abuse and neglect are continuing unchecked.

“The regulatory framework exists for the Commission to do its job.

“There needs to be an urgent review into why this is not happening because if there is no cop on the beat, providers have no incentive to maintain best practice.

“I appreciate there is an ongoing investigation into the Commission in so far as it relates to the death of Ms Smith. However, the information I have received suggests that there are broader systemic failings that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

In Rebekha’s speech to Parliament, she raised allegations about serious incidents that were either not investigated or failed to be referred for investigation for several months because they were not triaged correctly by frontline staff with huge workloads and inadequate training.

“The capacity for taking strong regulatory action is essential in ensuring NDIS participants can live lives free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation,” Rebekha said.

“Until the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission in South Australia can demonstrate that it is able to do so, people living with disability remain at risk.”

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