Internal NDIA investigation launched after family’s information leaked to abusive ex-partner

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Linda Reynolds, issued an unreserved apology to the family, telling them the breach "should not have happened".

The chief executive of the National Disability Insurance Agency says an internal investigation has been launched after a privacy breach resulted in confidential information about a participant's family being leaked despite domestic violence warnings. 

Fronting a senate hearing on Friday, NDIA chief executive Martin Hoffman apologised to the family, who haven’t been identified due to safety concerns, and said an urgent internal investigation into the incident had been launched.

The Victorian mother reportedly told the Herald Sun her and her children’s lives had been endangered after the NDIA accidentally sent her son’s national disability support scheme plan to her ex-partner, who had recently been released from jail, despite alerts against sharing the information.

The leaked documents included details of the families location, schools and professionals working with the son.

Mr Hoffman told the hearing he had requested a “rapid and thorough” investigation get underway and the findings to be delivered to him “very promptly”.

The proper alerts had been placed on the participant’s profile, he said, adding that the family’s exact address had not been revealed but the suburb was included. 

Asked whether the department had evidence of any similar breaches, Mr Hoffman said he was not aware of any. 

Minister for the NDIS, Linda Reynolds, said she was made aware of the breach on Friday morning, a day after the NDIA briefed her office, but declined to comment further on the details of how it happened until she had received more information from the NDIA. 

She also issued an unreserved apology to the family.

“It should not have happened,” she told the hearing.

“My first priority and the NDIA's first priority is the safety and the privacy of the woman and the family concerned, and then also to work out how this happened and to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Mr Hoffman told the hearing the family was being supported, in response to the mother’s claims she feared becoming homeless due to the breach.

“I’m going to be homeless again,” she reportedly said. “They say domestic violence is a high priority, it doesn’t seem that way.”

NDIA general manager, Scott McNaughton, told the hearing the agency had processes in place to screen participants who might be at risk of abuse.

“It’s a major focus for us,” he said, pointing to a current review into their approach to family and domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. The Men’s Referral Service provides advice for men on domestic violence and can be contacted on 1300 766 491. In an emergency, call 000.

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