Australian Institute of Criminology

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Responding to welfare fraud: The Australian experience

Research and Public Policy Series no.119

Tim Prenzler
ISBN 978 1 922009 21 0 ISSN 1836-2079
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2012

Abstract | The main focus of this comprehensive study is on strategies adopted by Australia’s primary welfare distributor Centrelink for preventing welfare fraud. In particular, the study was concerned with impact measures of the different strategies.

The study was also concerned with the antecedents of these strategies, associated prosecution strategies and debates about the justice of these strategies. In addition, the study was concerned to map, as far as possible, the dimensions of suspected and confirmed welfare fraud in terms of numbers of offences, characteristics of offenders, financial losses, types of fraud and trends over time.

The report highlights that while welfare fraud remains a significant issue, there has been continuing innovation in the area of detection in the last 30 years. A review of fraud control systems also showed Centrelink to be in step with international best practice, having developed a complex array of strategies to prevent and detect fraud.

The report also notes the benefits of strong primary prevention measures such as compliance reviews and education campaigns to explain payment systems to recipients and to stop frauds before they occur.

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