'Distraught': Mum's worry after $30k mistake
A GLADSTONE mother was horrified when she realised more than $30,000 had disappeared from her son's National Disability Insurance Scheme account.
Michelle Burrell is warning the hundreds of thousands of other people who receive the Federal Government disability funding to be vigilant with their own accounts.
Alarm bells were ringing when she noticed a company had put $31,139.14 "on hold" on her 18-year-old son Jordan's account for "garden maintenance" from an interstate provider.
"I know I'm not allowed to have garden maintenance, because Jordie isn't in his own home," she said.
"It was from a company in New South Wales too ... I saw the amount and I was horrified.
"My initial thought was fraud."
The family signed up to the Federal Government's NDIS last year in the hope of it helping them cope with the intellectual disability Jordan was born with.
An email from the NDIS finance department to Mrs Burrell said the funds had been "incorrectly drawn down" from Jordan's account.
The NDIS apologised and explained it happened when a provider submitted incorrect patient details.
They said the incorrectly claimed money had been "returned in full".
The day before the email was sent to Mrs Burrell, the NDIS introduced new functions on its portal, asking providers to include the participant's NDIS number, date of birth and surname before drawing out funds.
Mrs Burrell's warning to others comes amid the agency launching a fraud taskforce to help police the portal that is now used by 460,000 Australians who use the Federal Government initiative for financial support for their disabilities.
The Federal Government announced the NDIS Fraud Taskforce in July; a joint initiative of the National Disability Insurance Agency, Department of Human Services and the Australian Federal Police.
An NDIA spokesperson said it does not comment on investigations and it took all reports of suspected fraud seriously.
"The NDIA and the Commonwealth Government will not tolerate the misuse of funds intended to support people with disability," the spokesperson said.
It encourages users to access their individual portals regularly to see details on their support budgets and providers.
Mrs Burrell said she also informed the parliamentary committee, which recently carried out an inquiry on the IT used by the NDIS.
While the NDIS said the money had been returned to Jordan's account, Mrs Burrell said she still struggled to navigate the system and clearly see where it had been added.
"I really feel that eventually the NDIS will become an election issue," she said.
"I've been distraught trying to navigate this really intricate system."
She said the ordeal caused unnecessary stress and they are preparing to relocate back to Western Australia so they can be closer to their family for support for Jordan after ongoing difficulties.