Centrelink Surveillance to crackdown on welfare fraud
The Federal Minister for Community Services, Mr Larry Anthony, today announced Centrelink has contracted 21 private investigation companies to help in the fight against serious welfare fraud.
“Centrelink has contracted optical surveillance services from 21 investigation agencies across Australia, to help them collect evidence of people suspected of serious welfare fraud,” Mr Anthony said.
Mr Anthony said since the Optical Surveillance project started in July, Centrelink has identified almost $1million in welfare debt, resulting in the cancellation or reduction of payments to 154 people.
“This initiative will help catch serious offenders and sends out a clear message that the community will not tolerate serious welfare fraud,” Mr Anthony said.
Mr Anthony said that Centrelink would be using the investigation agencies to concentrate on the following areas:
- People working for cash in hand payments who do not declare their payments to Centrelink;
- People on disability pensions claiming they are unfit for work when they are working; and
- People fraudulently claiming more than one benefit at a time.
Mr Anthony said overall control of the investigation remains with Centrelink, with investigation agencies subject to strict guidelines of operation.
“The investigation agencies have been chosen by Centrelink after a rigorous tendering process with agencies agreeing to adhere to extensive security and privacy standards before being awarded contracts,” he said.
Mr Anthony said the vast majority of people receiving social security payments were honest but the Government had an obligation to the Australian taxpayer to make sure that people only received payments they were entitled to.
“This initiative is all about protecting the Australian taxpayer from those small numbers of people who deliberately go out of their way to steal from the social security system,” he said.
Investigation agency locations
The following locations are where the contracted firms are located:
- New South Wales
Brisbane/Gold Coast (2)
- South Australia
- West Australia
- Northern Territory
Canberra (2) – ACT firms will cover parts of rural NSW such as Griffith, Albury and Bateman’s Bay.