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Chapter 4.2 External scrutiny

Our operations are scrutinised by external entities such as the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), the Commonwealth Ombudsman, and committees of the Australian Parliament.

Reports by the Australian National Audit Office

In 2019–20, the ANAO tabled a cross agency performance audit report involving the department on the delivery of the Humanitarian Settlement Program.

The ANAO also completed two performance audits focussed on the department:

  • Management of Agreements for Disability Employment Services
  • Fraud Control Arrangements in the Department of Social Services.

The following ANAO reports are in the preparation stage:

  • Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30 June 2020
  • Decision-making controls for NDIS participant plans.

Completed audits can be found on the ANAO website. To view the completed audits, go to anao.gov.au

Reports by the Commonwealth Ombudsman

In 2019–20, the Commonwealth Ombudsman released one report related to the department:

  • Lessons in good complaint handling.

For further information, go to ombudsman.gov.au

Judicial decisions

No judicial decisions significantly impacted our operations during the year.

Administrative tribunal decisions

No decisions of an administrative tribunal significantly impacted our operations during the year.

Reports by parliamentary committees

The Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs

The Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs covers the Health and Social Services Portfolios. Its work is divided between two committees – the Legislation Committee and the References Committee. During 2019–20, we had the following engagement with the Committees:

The Legislation Committee

  • On 19 August 2019, we provided a submission to the inquiry into the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Extend Family Assistance to ABSTUDY Secondary School Boarding Students Aged 16 and Over) Bill 2019. We attended a hearing on 30 August 2019. The Committee tabled its final report on 5 September 2019. We tabled the Government response on 17 February 2020
  • On 27 September 2019, we provided a submission to the inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Test Trial) Bill 2019. We attended a hearing on 2 October 2019. The Committee tabled its final report on 10 October 2019
  • On 14 October 2019, we provided a submission to the inquiry into Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Income Management to Cashless Debit Card Transition) Bill 2019. We attended a hearing on 14 October 2019. The Committee tabled its final report on 7 November 2019. We tabled the Government response on 2 December 2019
  • On 14 February 2020, we provided a submission to the inquiry into the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Simplifying Income Reporting and Other Measures) Bill 2020. We attended a hearing on 17 February 2020. The Committee tabled its final report on 20 February 2020. We tabled the Government response on 26 February 2020
  • On 6 March 2020, we provided a submission to the inquiry into Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020. The Committee tabled its final report on 19 March 2020.

The References Committee

  • On 30 September 2019, we provided a submission to the inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia. We attended hearings on 10 October 2019 and 14 February 2020. The Committee tabled its final report on 30 April 2020
  • On 3 October 2019 and 16 December 2019, we attended hearings for the inquiry into Centrelink’s compliance program.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs may inquire into and report on any matter referred to it by either the House of Representatives or a Minister, including any pre-legislation proposal, bill, motion, petition, vote or expenditure, other financial matter, report or document. During 2019–20, we had the following engagement with the Committee:

  • On 12 September 2019, we tabled the Government response to the inquiry into Local Adoption
  • On 24 October 2019, we provided a submission to the inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography. We attended a hearing on 6 December 2019. The Committee tabled its final report on 5 March 2020
  • On 11 June 2020, we provided a submission to the inquiry into homelessness in Australia.

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) initiates inquiries into various aspects of the NDIS, including the Scheme’s operation and performance. During 2019–20, we had the following engagement with the Committee:

  • On 19 September 2019 and 21 November 2019, we attended hearings for the inquiry into NDIS planning and the inquiry into Supported Independent Living. The Committee tabled its final report for the inquiry into Supported Independent Living on 13 May 2020
  • On 21 November 2019, we attended a hearing for the inquiry into General issues around the implementation and performance of the Scheme
  • On 13 February 2020, 17 April 2020, and 8 May 2020, we attended hearings for the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • On 3 March 2020, we tabled the Government response in the House of Representatives for the inquiry into NDIS planning. The response was tabled in the Senate on 24 March 2020. The Committee tabled its interim report on 3 December 2019
  • On 3 March 2020, we tabled the Government response in the House of Representatives for the inquiry into General issues around the implementation and performance of the Scheme. The response was tabled in the Senate on 24 March 2020. The Committee tabled its progress report on 29 March 2019
  • On 3 March 2020, we tabled the Government response in the House of Representatives for the inquiry into Market Readiness. The response was tabled in the Senate on 24 March 2020
  • On 11 June 2020, we provided a submission to the inquiry into the Scheme’s workforce.

The Joint Select Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme

  • On 7 February 2020, 26 February 2020, 19 March 2020, 15 April 2020, and 29 May 2020, we attended hearings for the inquiry into the implementation of the National Redress Scheme
  • The Committee tabled its interim report on 30 April 2020.

Other Parliamentary Inquiries

  • On 6 September 2019, we provided a submission to the Senate Select Committee inquiry into Jobs for the Future in Regional Areas. The Committee tabled its final report on 4 December 2019
  • On 30 October 2019, we provided a submission to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit inquiry into Efficiency and Effectiveness. We attended a hearing on 15 November 2019
  • On 18 December 2019, we provided a submission to the Joint Select Committee inquiry into Australia’s Family Law System. We attended a hearing on 14 February 2020
  • On 18 February 2020, we tabled the Government response in the Senate for the former Joint Standing Committee inquiry into the oversight of the implementation of redress related recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse. The tabling of the Government response in the House of Representatives occurred on 24 February 2020
  • On 5 March 2020, we tabled the Government response for the House of Representatives Select Committee inquiry into Intergenerational Welfare Dependence
  • On 13 March 2020, we attended a hearing for the Senate Economics Legislative Committee inquiry into the National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Small Amount Credit)
  • On 30 April 2020 and 2 June 2020, we attended hearings for the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 inquiry. We provided a submission to the inquiry on 12 May 2020
  • On 30 June 2020, we provided a submission to the House Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs inquiry into food prices and food security in remote communities.

For further information on the department’s submissions, responses to questions on notice, and transcripts of the hearings, go to aph.gov.au