Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Keeping the System Fair to Save $215 million

A major campaign to encourage Centrelink customers to report changes in their circumstances is expected to save taxpayers $214.9 million over four years, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, announced in the 2004-05 Budget.

The “Keeping the System Fair” national multi-media educational campaign will encourage income support recipients to notify voluntarily any changes in their circumstances, she said.

Senator Patterson said: “This campaign is designed to encourage people to inform Centrelink of changes in their circumstances to ensure they do not receive any overpayments of benefits.

“It is important that people tell Centrelink in a timely way if their income changes and their eligibility for benefits changes. By improving people’s awareness we want to reduce the likelihood of overpayments.

“We have a great welfare system that delivers assistance to those who are eligible based on their need. To maintain its fairness it is vital that we all ensure that people in similar circumstances are treated the same.”

The campaign is expected to generate savings in social welfare payments of $271.3 million over four years. About 100,000 Centrelink customers a year are expected to report changes voluntarily in their circumstances that could affect their eligibility to income support payments.

Senator Patterson said the Budget measure builds on the 2002 “Support the System that Supports You” campaign, which had a positive impact on awareness, attitudes and behaviours.

It led to more people voluntarily contacting Centrelink to advise of changed circumstances and reducing their risk of being overpaid.