NDIS failed to probe death and rape, MP claims
Shocking claims the NDIS watchdog did not investigate the alleged rape of an intellectually disabled South Australian by "one or more" case workers for four months have been aired in parliament.
In another case, the death of an NDIS participant allegedly from the misuse of a strong sedative was not investigated because the watchdog believed a police inquiry was sufficient.
A third incident of alleged sexual assault of an NDIS client in SA was not referred to the watchdog but was "dug up several months later by chance", Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie said.
The explosive claims, aired under the legal protection of parliamentary privilege, come in the same week a taskforce handed down its interim report into the systemic failings surrounding Ann Marie Smith's death.
Whistleblowers raised the incidents with Ms Sharkie along with concerns about the "hear no evil, see no evil" management culture in the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. They also raised concerns the watchdog is understaffed, despite being "deluged" with notifications and having "at least 600 open cases on any given day".
"(One) notification that languished in the list was the alleged rape of an intellectually disabled participant by one or more care workers," Ms Sharkie told parliament.
"The incident was not referred to the investigations team because the front line reportable incident officer didn't think the incident was serious enough to warrant immediate action. It was four months before the allegation got to the investigations team. Four months."
Ms Sharkie called for an independent inquiry into the watchdog, unannounced checks for all providers, better communication between the states and Commonwealth, better training for NDIS staff and for every serious misconduct allegation to be investigated. NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said people's safety was "absolutely paramount".
"Allegations of this nature need and should be taken seriously," he said. "We have contacted Ms Sharkie seeking relevant details in relation to the alleged cases raised, however, (she) has not been able to provide us with any details."
He urged her to report any details about the allegations to the police or the NDIS Commission.
An NDIS Commission spokesman said the matters referred to by Ms Sharkie were similar to those it either had under active investigation, or had taken enforcement or compliance action
"Some of the matters referred to by Ms Sharkie are criminal matters and should be investigated by the appropriate authorities," he said.
"All alleged criminal conduct matters that the NDIS Commission are made aware of are referred to the Police and other appropriate authorities as relevant.
"The NDIS Commission cannot undertake criminal investigations."
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as NDIS failed to probe death, rape: Sharkie