News of Taskforce Integrity’s presence in Ipswich last week spread like wildfire, prompting the public to provide the taskforce with information they had about suspected welfare fraud.
Taskforce Integrity Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson said the joint Department of Human Services (the department) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) taskforce are very satisfied with the results of the two day operation which highlighted Ipswich’s support for their work.
“Our team set up for two days at the Riverlink Shopping Centre and outside the Ipswich Service Centre,” Assistant Commissioner Johnson said.
“We had staff from both agencies talking to the community about Taskforce Integrity, how to avoid accumulating a debt with the department, and raising awareness to prevent fraud from occurring.
“The real surprise though was the amount of people who jumped in their car to make a trip to see us and provide information to help us combat welfare fraud.
“The overwhelming majority of people are honest and do the right thing. However, unfortunately there are those in the community who try to gain more than they’re entitled to.
“It’s not right, and we were very pleased to see that the Ipswich community agree. The general public are our eyes and ears, and we rely on their support to report their suspicions of people doing the wrong thing. It’s often their information that lead us to finding those who cheat the system.”
Taskforce Integrity has identified 1,061 cases of overpayments and 19 cases of suspected fraud for further investigation in the Ipswich region – three of which have been referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Our team has initiated more than 2,500 formal compliance reviews, and has identified more than $2.3 million of debt for the Commonwealth,” Assistant Commissioner Johnson said.
“While we’re in the business of finding people who have deliberately cheated the system, we’re equally focussed on educating the community.
“We’ve sent letters to more than 3500 people reminding them to keep their details up to date with the department, as this is where a lot of people slip up and find themselves accumulating a debt.
“The time we get to interact with the community, highlighting their role in our work is invaluable.
“We’ve spent this time reminding people that they have a responsibility to check their records with us are always up to date and to make sure they let the department know when their circumstances change.
“It is never too late to report a change, and people can correct or update information they have provided online through their myGov account, Express Plus mobile app or by calling 136 240.”