Category Archives: Media

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Report from Crikey.Com

Amber Schultz


Amber covers health and social affairs for Crikey. She has been shortlisted for two Young Walkley Awards, was the 2021 Mumbrella Young Writer of the Year for her coverage of sexual violence, and in 2018 completed the Jacoby-Walkley scholarship. She holds two Master degrees and previously worked for The Age, Nine News and ABC’s Tonightly.

The agency that oversees the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has no idea how many of the workers it pays for to provide services are unregistered.

These workers, who are either employed by a company or are freelance, can provide services ranging from landscaping to personal care, chosen by NDIS participants. They’re governed only by a “code of conduct” comprising just seven dot points around respecting privacy, preventing and responding to sexual misconduct and providing quality care.

“There are more checks and balances when buying a beer than there is on the provisions of unregistered NDIS services,” Labor Senator Tony Sheldon told a Senate committee hearing yesterday. He pointed to the responsible service of alcohol (RSA) course those working in pubs and bars have to take to serve booze, versus the lack of certification disability workers have to have.

Allowing people with disabilities to pick and choose who provides their services is a crucial part of the NDIS model around choice and control. But with a toothless sector watchdog understaffed and overburdened with complaints, unregistered providers can not just be costly — but dangerous too.

Where’s the oversight?

Acting NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Tracy Mackey told estimates there were around 4000 unregistered providers — but couldn’t provide an exact figure. So how exactly are standards enforced?

While workers with a registered provider have to undergo a screening test before being hired, unregistered providers are subject to the code of conduct with little else governing how they work. Mackey pointed to the “half a million” downloads of the code of conduct as evidence workers were paying attention.

Disability staff are some of the lowest-paid workers in Australia and many have no disability-related qualifications. There’s high turnover too, with around a quarter of staff leaving their role in a given year.

As Crikey has revealed, this has led to several instances of abuseneglect and theft for many people with disabilities.

The fact the NDIA can’t say how many unregistered providers or workers there are is extremely worrying, estimates heard. It also has no idea how many of those unregistered workers are vaccinated.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston also said she has no idea how many Australians with disability have died from COVID-19. She said the government “wouldn’t necessarily know” if someone has a disability.

How are dodgy providers dealt with?

Mackey said people with a disability, their families or their advocate can make a complaint about a registered or unregistered provider with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

But how realistic is this? As of June 2021, the commission employed just 124 staff across the country. In the past financial year the commission received:

  • Over 1 million notifications of unauthorised use of restrictive practices, including using medication to restrain someone or locking them in a room, more than triple 2019-20 numbers
  • 417 allegations of sexual misconduct, up from 350 the previous year
  • 1179 notifications of death (unregistered providers don’t have to provide this data to the commission)
  • 2030 allegations of unlawful physical or sexual contact, up from 1671 the previous year
  • 3189 notifications of serious injury, up from 1854 the previous year
  • 5971 allegations of abuse and neglect, up from 3637 the previous year
  • 7231 complaints. More than half of those complaints were dismissed by the commission and just 2% of them were resolved through a resolution process
  • 20,090 inquiries about behaviour support

Between July and December 2021, an extra 4134 complaints were submitted to the commission.

Crikey has heard instances of commission staff walking off the job in tears due to understaffing and under-resourcing. There were just 291 investigations launched into complaints in the past year, and just 46 providers have been banned since 2018 when the commission was formed.

The commission was recently granted broader powers to grant banning orders based on how suitable an organisation is to provide services and to approve or revoke quality auditors.

Are unregistered providers the issue?

Unregistered providers are an important part of allowing people with disabilities to chose who provides them with care — especially given the care is often personal in nature. But making sure that person is qualified, suitable, vaccinated and hasn’t been banned from providing certain reports largely rests on the person with disabilities.

“We do try really hard to encourage self-managing participants to require their disability support workers to be vaccinated,” Mackey said, while NDIA CEO Martin Hoffman said it was up to the states and territories to oversee vaccination status of disability workers.

Those working with a registered NDIS provider have to undergo a worker screening check, and if they’re found to have been involved with criminal activity that could impact a person with a disability, such as online scamming or abuse, they receive an exclusion from working with registered providers.

But this doesn’t exclude them from working with an unregistered provider or within the disability sector altogether.

Carer Gateway- Carer Focused Podcast

View this email in your browse


Dear Carers,

Evan from Carer Gateway is looking to launch a six-episode Carer focused podcast this year.

If you’re interested in sharing your experiences as a Carer, please send through your interest to Evan by Friday 14th January 2022 via email or phone.


Phone: 0402 903 871

Carers who are selected for the podcast will be compensated for their time with a $200 Prezi voucher.

Please see below for full details of the podcast.

Hi there,

This year Merri Health will be launching a six-episode carer focused podcast. The podcast will profile the experiences of carers in Victoria, tell stories that are hopeful in nature and promote the work of the Carer Gateway.

Each episode will profile at least two carers in different parts of Victoria. I’ll be producing the podcast with the support of Merri Health’s Marketing and Communications Team.

If you’re interested in the style of the podcast – I would recommend having a listen to the series re:location that I made a year ago: . A more recent podcast but in a slightly different style is Imagining Australia:

Over the next fortnight, I am looking to lock-in interviewees for the podcast. It’s really important that we have a diverse range of carers for the podcast who have contrasting care relationships. For example (and not limited to the following), carers supporting their: parents, young children, siblings, extended family, friends or partners.

Interviewees will be asked to reflect broadly on their experiences as a carer. I’m keen to explore personal backgrounds, interests, goals and people/organisations/groups who are important to  the interviewees. The interviews will also cover the challenges and positive aspects of being a carer.

With the focus on different communities, I’m also keen to look at the connection that carers have with the place they live. This could be why  the area is special to the interviewee,  what carers love about the place they call home (e.g beach, community, local organisations, friends, music, work, nature, cafes, pubs etc.) and what daily life looks like.

All carers who are selected for the podcast will be compensated for their time with a $200 Prezi voucher. It is not a requirement for interviewees to have been supported through the Carer Gateway. However, it is important that some carers have had this experience.

I am expecting the interviews will take an hour to complete, with some time for chats before meeting. For audio quality, all interviews will take place in-person. We would like all interviews and editing to be completed by the end of February.

Anyone who is interested in being interviewed for the podcast is invited to send me their interest by Friday 14 January. Please let me know where you live, who you care for, and your  general age bracket (e.g. teens, 40s, 60s )

I will be in contact over the coming weeks to have a chat via phone to get a bit more background from potential interviewees and to talk through what the recording process will look like.  Unfortunately, there won’t be scope to interview everyone.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me either via email or phone (0402 903 871).

Many thanks,


Partnership Coordinator

Carer Gateway

Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC)

Recovery Oriented Language Guide
Quick Reference

New mental health language guide released for Mental Health Month
The language we use and the stories we tell about mental health can carry a sense of hope and possibility or they can reinforce stereotypes and low expectations. Despite the progress we have made as a community, stigma associated with mental health still exists and can be reflected in our language. The way we talk about mental health and the things we express publicly through the media, social media, in our homes and our workplaces can make a difference. To mark Mental Health Week 2021, Mental Health Coordinating Council is releasing a new Recovery Oriented Language Guide: Quick Reference tool to help all of us find the right words.

Read more

ABC Your Mental Health 19 October 2021

Report from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch

scam australia loss
NEVER let someone on the other end of a phone call talk you into opening your computer for them, or answer questions about you to someone you do not know – especially if they claim to be from a well known organization such as Tax Office, NBN, phone company etc.

Scams cost Aussies $211 million this year

Australians have lost a record $211 million to scams so far this year, with people bombarded by bogus calls and texts purportedly from well-known businesses or the government.

The losses between January 1 and September 19 this year have surpassed the $175.6 million reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch throughout 2020.

This represents an 89 per cent increase from the same period last year and people are urged to be extra vigilant.

About a third of the 2021 losses, worth more than $63.6 million, are through calls and texts purportedly from well-known businesses or the government.

Of the 213,000 reports received from Scamwatch so far this year, 113,000 were about phone scams.

“Scammers are pretending to be from companies such as Amazon or eBay and claiming large purchases have been made on the victim’s credit card,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said on Monday.

“When they pretend to help you process a refund, they actually gain remote access to your computer and steal your personal and banking details.”

The average loss so far this year is about $11,000, compared with $7000 for the same period in 2020.

Over-65s make up 23 per cent or $49.1 million of this year’s losses and people for whom English is a second language nearly 14.4 per cent or $29.9 million.

Indigenous Australians reported losses worth $4.3 million, an 172 per cent increase from the same period last year.

There was explosion in new Flubot malware voicemails and parcel delivery scams in August.

They led to more than 13,000 scam reports in eight weeks.

Reports of identity theft have increased by 234 per cent, and phishing and remote access scams by 261 per cent and 144 per cent, respectively.

“The rise in identity theft related scams is particularly concerning as scammers can use the personal information they obtain for use in other crimes,” Ms Rickard said.

She urged people to report scams even if they haven’t lost any money.

“Scammers are conning people out of more and more money, so it’s really important that everyone knows what to look out for and how to protect themselves.”


The ABC Your Mental Health September 2021

Your Mental Health Banner

Hello! Sana from ABC Radio National’s podcast All in the Mind here.

This week marked RU OK day, and really, are any of us fully OK, this long into the pandemic? The annual event has received a lot of criticism over the years about its perceived tokenism, its utility, and its purpose. Despite that, the original intent remains commendable: making space to talk about mental health. But really, that’s something we should feel OK to discuss every day! So, while the day has passed for this year, let’s keep the conversation going. In this newsletter, we look at why young people in particular are feeling lonelier in lockdown, practical ways to stay on top of your mental health, and why one woman wants to kick the stigma around taking anti-depressant medication. As for me, some days I’m OK — I can accept that life is just weird at the moment, but it won’t be forever —  other days, less so, but I muddle through. Then there are days where I’m totally not OK; panicked I’ll never see my family in Canada again (it’s been two years and counting), worried my friendships will dissolve without regular contact, and anxious my baby will never learn to connect with people who aren’t his parents. Luckily for me, those days are pretty rare. I hope however OK you are or aren’t, you can find some solace in the stories below.

Till next time, Sana


My Friend Fox – a message from Heidi the author


My new book ‘My Friend Fox’ lands globally on September 1, but if you live in Melbourne, please support your local booksellers by ordering through them – a lot of them are going through a hard time in lockdown. Here’s a few in Melbourne:

ReadingsCarlton, Doncaster, Hawthorn, St Kilda, Malvern, State Library:

Bourke St Melbourne
(Hill of Content Bookshop):

Albert Park, Elsternwick, Richmond
(Avenue Bookshop):

Please support my book. It’s taken over eight years from go to whoa to bring My Friend Fox to bookshops, and I’m indebted to good people who have and are supporting its journey. When you get your copy, I hope you like the little drawings I’ve put in the book, they are my photographs.


Heidi Everett

NOTE FROM WEBSITE MANAGER: My Friend Fox is also available from Benn’s Bookstore, 437 Centre Road, Bentleigh Telephone 9557 3969,

FAQs about COVID-19 Vaccines for People Affected by Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer

Cancer Australia has released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) translated into 10 languages specifically for people affected by cancer.

People with cancer are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and are at an increased risk of more severe infection. The latest international evidence reassuringly shows that for many people affected by cancer, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect them, their family and their community against COVID-19.

FAQs have been developed by Cancer Australia based on input and queries from the cancer community. The FAQs have now been translated into the 10 most commonly-spoken languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

To view the translated FAQs, visit

Tandem eNews 17 August 2021

Dear members and supporters, We are sending today’s eNews at what is once again a really difficult time for many Victorians. Feelings of exhaustion, apathy and irritability are so widespread at the moment that they’ve spawned a new term: ‘lockdown fatigue’.

Concerningly, for many people with caring responsibilities, lockdown fatigue adds to already significant carer fatigue or even burnout. Please remember that you can reach out to speak to our team on the Support and Referral Line from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on 1800 314 325.

This is an enormously hard time too for our Afghan community, as well as for veterans who served in Afghanistan and their families. Please be mindful of how the situation is affecting you, and speak to someone if you need to.

With school closures extended, playgrounds closed and talk of how the delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading amongst children, many kids are having a hard time too – particularly those who were already struggling with anxiety or other mental health concerns.

We’ve included in this edition a section of resources for families with children, for members of the Afghan community, as well as some support services for veterans and families.

Lastly – and on a positive note – we’d like to thank all of our members who attended last week’s Members Meeting. The meeting included an initial consultation session on Victoria’s eight new family and carer-led centres. As always, the session involved vibrant discussion and produced a wealth of ideas that our team is now sifting through. Keep an eye on this space to hear more about our next steps!

In this eNews edition

      • Introduction
      • Our next Tandem Time with Victoria Police
      • Supporting children through extended lockdowns
      • Support for the Afghan community
      • Support for veterans and families
      • Are you experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19?
      • Senior Carer Peer Worker position – Mental Health Hospital in the Home
      • Family and Friend Support Program for people supporting someone using ice
      • Communicating with health professionals – Carers Victoria
      • The NDIS is seeking your feedback
      • Executive Director, Lived Experience – Department of Health
      • Depression Assist website
      • North Western Melbourne community needs survey
      • Do you live in Hume?
      • Tandem Support & Referral Line
      • Other Mental Health Helplines and Webchats
      • Join the Tandem Family


  • Our next Tandem Time with Victoria Police

    Our next Tandem Time is planned for Thursday 26 August 10am-11am

        • Day: Thursday 26 August
        • Time: 10am-11am
        • Where: online via Zoom.

    Our guest speaker will be Rebecca HalpinCommunity Portfolio Manager, Mental Health,Priority and Safer Communities Division, Victoria Police.

    Rebecca will provide information on the work that happens in the Mental Health – Priority and Safer Communities Division. As this will be a popular session we are asking members to submit questions beforehand.

    If you have any questions for Rebecca please forward to with the subject line ‘Tandem Time’.

    Are you experiencing hardship due to COVID-19?

    If you’re experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for support  from the Victorian Government and/or the Federal Government.

    Regardless of whether your financial hardship is COVID-related or not, you can speak to a financial counsellor at the National Debt Helpline for free – they even offer specialised advice for people experiencing financial stress due to mental health concerns.

    Call 1800 007 007 Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

    Depression Assist website

    Researchers at Deakin University and Barwon Health have developed a new website for family and friends of people with major depressive disorder, and are looking for people to test the website.

    If you’re interested, contact the researchers on 0456 755 552 or

    To read the complete newsletter click on the link below: