A Gold Coast woman has been sentenced to nearly two years imprisonment for fraudulently obtaining more than $43,000 in disability support funding, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has revealed.
The NDIA launched an investigation into the 40-year-old woman, who is a disability service provider, following complaints alleging she had submitted claims for services that were never provided.
The woman has been sentenced to 21 months imprisonment at Southport District Court for fraudulently obtaining the money from the plan funding of an NDIS participant for whom she had been providing support.
The NDIA said the woman, who has pleaded guilty to the charges, would be required to spend at least two months behind bars before being eligible for early release.
NDIA Chief Risk Officer Mel Woodburn has assured NDIS participants that criminal activity would always be investigated.
“Fraud is a crime. The NDIA has zero tolerance for fraud, and NDIS participants should feel confident the agency is doing everything it can to ensure funding intended for them is protected,” Woodburn said.
“The NDIA has a number of controls in place to protect the NDIS and participants from exploitation through fraud, and continues to monitor fraudulent behaviour, invest in intelligence, data analytics and other compliance measures to build capability to detect and respond to fraud.
“The agency also has in place an effective range of fraud and non-compliance responses, including the investigation and prosecution of offenders.”
The sentencing has come a week after NDIS minister Linda Reynolds announced that the NDIS Fraud Taskforce would be extended indefinitely to protect scheme participants. The taskforce is a multi-agency partnership between the NDIA, the Australian Federal Police, and Services Australia.
“Participants, their families and carers must feel confident that the NDIA is preventing, detecting, and responding to fraud,” Reynolds said of the extension.
“My priority is ensuring participants are protected from illegal or unscrupulous behaviour and that illegal activity will be detected and met with the full force of the law.”
The minister also announced the establishment of a 30-member NDIA Compliance Response team.
Anyone with information about suspected fraud involving the NDIS have been encouraged to contact the NDIS fraud reporting and scams helpline on 1800 650 717.