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Disability, Medical Health Aged Care

Australians Crying Out Over NDIS Costs and Rorting, while Government Scales Back the Cheapest, Most Simple, Pre-existing Safeguards to Prevent it

Mr River Night, National Disability Sector Advocate 5 mins read
Mr Night is an adult living with disability, a National Disability Sector Advocate, carer, father and outspoken supporter for reform and improvements in the Disability and NDIS sector.

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Mr River Night 

Leading National Disability Sector Advocate

Co-founder at Developing Australian Communities 

Public Officer at the National Disability Leadership Organisation


Mr Night is physically located in Brisbane this week and is available to travel.


Mr Night is an adult Living with Disability, a National Disability Sector Advocate, carer, father and outspoken supporter for reform and improvements in the Disability and NDIS sector with a 30+ year career working across Disability, Youth Justice, Guardianship, Child Safety, Education, TAFE, Aged Care, Forensics Disability and Mental Health sectors.


 “In any other organisational or business setting where theft, violence, abuse and neglect was occurring daily on a national scale, measured and observable, costing tens of billions each year, doing less would be considered mind boggling, said Mr River Night today, as he discussed the ongoing failure of providing basic safeguards and checks across the NDIS and Child Safety sectors.


“If I were the CEO of any major corporation and I made the choice each year for 10 years straight, to not take simple, easily implemented steps to prevent the company from loosing tens of billions a year due to preventable theft, and tens of billions per year due to the preventable neglect and mistreatment of my customers, I’d be sacked on the spot by my board if not already thrown in jail.


“During the Disability Royal Commission, we heard of unspeakable examples of gross abuse, neglect, violence, sexual assault, deaths, systemic failings and chronic disregard for human life and human rights. At the same time as this was being talked about, our government scaled back community visitor programs who were our only independent line of defence and checks on our most vulnerable.


“It’s been more than 4 years since I worked with the Community Visitor program myself and I know that my biggest job was visiting service providers and pointing out to them every single week how they were breaching well established legislation and human rights that have been in place for decades. Now we are relying on the honour system!


“Imagine if our government said today that they are no longer policing speeding and traffic offences and if anyone breaks the law, would they mind self-reporting to the nearest police station instead. This is the approach we have seen in the NDIS sector since the roll out.


“We know that community visitors with statutory power to visit and check settings is one of the only ways to really make sure we catch problems early and provide accountability. It’s also one of the simplest and cheapest solutions.


“Before NDIS rolled out we had a huge unmet need for more community visitors for Child Safety and Disability Service settings where standards, legislation and issues were already well established. We had even had a Child Safety and Disability Royal Commission into those sectors with recommendations still being implemented prior to NDIS.


"If I had one wish it would be to have the opportunity to spearhead a rapid ramp up of the community visitor program across all states and territories immediately and go through the sector like a brush fire. I am sure there are many more qualified people out there but perhaps it's time for less bureaucracy and more practical approaches that are simple, cheap and effective. 


“Prior to NDIS we knew that many service providers and even government run settings could not be trusted to meet legislation and basic standards because our community visitors constantly found breaches of these during their visits.


“When we rolled out NDIS 10 years ago, we knew these problems. They are the same problems we see now.


“In what rational world would you roll out a program over 10 years costing tens of billions of dollars a year, in a sector already plagued with abuse and neglect, following previous Royal Commission reports and think it is a good idea to not only remove, scale back and disband the only real, face to face checks and statutory roles for front line safeguarding, but continue to do it in the last 2 years during yet another Royal Commission.


“We have seen in some states that services that use chemical restraint, physical restraints, restrict access to objects and belongings are now only being visited once a year by community visitors instead of 4 times a year as done previously.


“Pre-NDIS community visitors went to sites a minimum of 4 times a year/every 3 months so that people knew who their community visitor was and the community visitor could check that services were doing what they said they would. This was at a time where legislation and standards had been rolled out and clear for decades. Now we are doing less by design, during a time of major change, while crying out about rorting. What did the government thinks was going to happen?


“We have billions being rorted from a scheme that costs us 30 billion dollars plus a year. On top of that we know independently that the additional economic cost to Australia from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation is more than 40 billion dollars a year as well. Why not prevent it? 


“While all this rorting, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation is occurring our leaders appear to be refusing to simply scale back up to pre-NDIS levels, our one and only face to face, simplest safety net that is already there right now, calling for more resources in our statutory community visitor programs.


“Community visitors that have the power to walk into these service settings and check up on people any time, is a simple, pre-existing program we should be ramping up right now urgently. It is the best way to make sure things are ok, catch and prevent what we see happening, but we have seen it gutted and held back at the time it is needed the most. 


“Along with many advocates and people, living with disability I am calling on all levels of government to prioritise this simple fix desperately before more deaths occur.


“If federal or state government cannot urgently act because of human rights reasons, to reintroduce our community visitor programs to pre-NDIS levels and more now we have such chronic issues, then perhaps the voting public can demand it due the tens of billions of dollars a year we are wasting because of a lack of action today. It is not rocket science so why is it taking so long?


“Many of us don’t care what political party decides to champion reintroducing our basic safeguards as number one priority and give it the attention it deserves, while they work out their 10+ year action plans. As a community of over 4.4 million Australia’s living with disability we will certainly get behind anyone that does.


“I am tired of hearing people say it costs too much when the solution is cheap and would save us tens of billions of wasted taxpayer dollars a year. Saying we don’t want to spend 1 billion to save us 40+ billion dollars a year is a weird approach to economic planning.

Contact details:

M 0401429403



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