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Welfare Fraud in Australia: Dimensions and Issues

NCJ Number
Tim Prenzler
Date Published
June 2011
6 pages
This paper reports on key aspects of welfare fraud in Australia.
Results indicate that demonstrable fraud represents a very small fraction of all welfare transactions, but it also represents significant losses. Analysis of the types of serious fraud cases shows that these are usually carefully planned with clear criminal intent. Findings show that there is a need for greater consensus on the best ways to prevent fraud and deal with offenders and a demand for prosecution and loss recovery action. The report outlines basic aims of welfare systems that provide direct economic support, the vulnerability of these systems to fraud and issues around culpability and appropriate responses to suspected fraud. The paper also describes problems experienced when attempting to measure fraud and provides an analysis of available data about the size and dimensions of the problem, including case studies of major frauds. Prosecution referrals for welfare fraud account for a small fraction of all assessments and that on average, only 0.04 percent of the 6.5 million plus welfare recipients are convicted of fraud each year. The system of referrals to the (CDPP) also ensures cases go through an independent filtering process. Only the strongest cases are pursued, as indicated by the very high conviction rates achieved in the tough arena of the criminal courts with a standard of evidence 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Tables, figures, and references