28 February 2024

NDIS Commissioner resigns from an agency in crisis

| Chris Johnson
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Tracy Mackey has resigned as NDIS Commissioner. Photo: ANZSOG.

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Tracy Mackey has quit the job, a move the Community and Public Sector Union has heartily welcomed.

It comes just days before the release of an independent report into a scandal exposed last year by the ABC’s Four Corners program that claimed children with autism were unlawfully restrained at an NDIS-funded program.

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten announced her resignation on Tuesday (27 February).

He said Ms Mackey’s resignation will be effective from May.

“I want to thank Ms Mackey for her time at the Commission and wish her well for her next endeavours.

“The historic Independent NDIS Review and the Disability Royal Commission recommended strengthening the scheme’s regulation powers and designing a system that meets the needs of a modern society.

“The Albanese Government is committed to helping to protect Australians with disability from unscrupulous operators.

“We are consulting people with disability and taking advice from all corners of the disability community on how, together, we can build a better NDIS disability watchdog.

“The government will now commence a recruitment process to find a new commissioner to lead the NDIS watchdog through this significant period of scheme reform.”

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The Commission also released its own statement.

“Tracy Mackey has served the majority of her three-year appointment as Commissioner,” it said.

“In light of the significant impending changes, she has decided the timing is right to embark on new career opportunities.

“This will also provide an opportunity for government to make decisions about the future of the NDIS Commissioner role without having an incumbent in the position.

“The Commission gratefully acknowledges Ms Mackey’s leadership and commitment to the maturing of the Commission’s regulatory approach.

“We look forward to working with the incoming commissioner and understand further details will be announced by the Minister shortly.”

Comcare, the government’s health and safety regulator, has launched a formal investigation into the Commission after it failed to act on an earlier improvement notice.

NDIS staff have long complained about unsafe working conditions and unreasonable workloads.

The Commission contested the notice, but a Comcare review upheld it.

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The CPSU said Ms Mackey’s resignation was good news.

The union’s deputy national president, Beth Vincent-Pietsch, said there are growing concerns regarding the Commission’s ongoing failure to address work health and safety issues, including excessive workloads.

She said the CPSU had long held concerns that Ms Mackey’s unwillingness to take work health and safety issues seriously has posed ongoing risks to both employees and people with disability.

“The departure of Tracy Mackey from her role as Commissioner at the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, will be welcomed by our members,” Ms Vincent-Pietsch said.

“Ms Mackey has failed at every turn to provide staff at the Commission a safe and respectful workplace.

“People with disability and their families need the NDIS Commission to be a proactive and powerful body that regulates providers of NDIS disability support services.

“Ongoing mismanagement and an unwillingness to cooperate with those advocating for improvements in the workplace have compromised its ability to be that.

“The CPSU looks forward to working with the new leadership to urgently address existing work health and safety concerns and get this workplace back on the right track.”

The union said the NDIS Commission needs leadership that prioritises the safety and well-being of Commission staff and ensures robust regulation of disability providers and services.

It said Ms Mackey’s departure presents an opportunity for much-needed change within the organisation.

“The CPSU will continue to work with our members in the Commission and with Comcare to advocate for comprehensive reform, ensuring a safe and supportive workplace environment while supporting the NDIS Commission to effectively regulate providers of NDIS disability support services,” Ms Vincent-Pietsch said.

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