Media release: Welfare fraud crackdown in NSW Hunter Region
Taskforce Integrity officials will set up shop in the Hunter Region next week, to address welfare fraud and ensure welfare recipients fully understand their reporting obligations.
The joint Department of Human Services and Australian Federal Police taskforce operates in identified non-compliance hotspots.
Taskforce Integrity isn’t about prosecuting people who make genuine mistakes - it’s about enforcing the law and deterring those who set out to commit welfare fraud.
The Hunter Region is the first stop of 2018.
On Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 February, Taskforce Integrity will be speaking to people at the Maitland Service Centre and Cessnock Service Centre to encourage them to keep the Department of Human Services up-to-date about their circumstances. This will ensure they are paid correctly and don’t get a debt.
In just over two years, Taskforce Integrity has worked in 15 sites across Australia and identified over $32 million of debt owed to the Commonwealth.
The taskforce has already been to Wagga Wagga, Liverpool, Rockdale, Coffs Harbour and the Central Coast, identifying over 2200 debts totalling over $7.1 million.
Areas of focus are on people who haven’t let the department know about income they receive through employment or that their relationship status has changed.
The taskforce will send letters and text messages to residents, encouraging them to self-correct their information.
Most people who receive welfare payments are honest and try to do the right thing, but many people identified in these operations receive overpayments because they forget to update their details with the department.
I urge all Hunter Region residents receiving welfare payments to talk with taskforce representatives to ensure they understand their obligations.