Media release: Taskforce Integrity targets welfare cheats in Mount Druitt
The Hon Michael Keenan MP
A joint Department of Human Services and Australian Federal Police taskforce will descend on the Western Sydney suburbs of Mount Druitt and St Mary’s this week to sniff out welfare cheats.
The compliance operation, known as Taskforce Integrity, targets areas around Australia where rates of non-compliance are known to be high, and sees snap audits conducted on large numbers of benefit recipients to ensure they are not claiming more than they should be.
Letters have been sent out to thousands of people in the lead up to the operation urging them to update the Department of Human Services about any changes to their personal circumstances which could affect the amount they are receiving.
Already, $100,000 in debts have been identified in the region before the Taskforce has commenced ground operations.
Most people who receive benefits are honest and only claim what the law allows. The message to those that don’t is that we will catch you, you will be made to repay the money and you may end up in prison.
Australia has a generous welfare safety net, but it is vital that we maintain its integrity to ensure it remains viable for those who rely on it for support.
I also strongly urge local residents to make contact with the Taskforce’s staff who will be based at the Mount Druitt Service Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday to dob-in anyone they know is doing the wrong thing or believe could be rorting the system.
Taskforce Integrity has been operating since 2015, and has helped raise almost $40 million in debts to the Department—more than $10 million from 3,000 individuals in New South Wales alone during 6 separate operations.
In one NSW case, a couple who failed to declare they were in a relationship for approximately 6 years were found to owe a combined debt of $200,000, after claiming Parenting Payment and Carers Payment at a single rate.
In another case, a NSW couple who were in a relationship for over 5 years claimed Parenting Payment, Disability Support Pension and Newstart at the single rate. They were found guilty of fraud and have to repay $150,000 to the Department.
People can report suspected welfare fraud on the department’s website at www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/contact-us/reporting-fraud or by telephoning the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 131 524 for the cost of a local call.