Australia's Worst Suburbs For Welfare Cheats Exposed
Welfare cheats warned 'we will track you down'.
Australia’s worst suburbs for welfare cheats have been exposed in a joint investigation between the Federal Government and the Australian Federal Police.
Taskforce 'Integrity' found more than 2,600 people from Werribee in Melbourne’s west had received almost $11 million worth of benefits they weren’t entitled to.
The figure is the largest from a single site in the Taskforce’s three year history.
It’s also more than a quarter of the $40 million in debts identified during 19 operations across the country
Now, the Federal Government is vowing to crack down.
The Minister for Human Services Michael Keenan said anyone cheating the system will be caught.
“The vast majority of people in Werribee and the vast majority of people in Australia do do the right thing,” Minister Keenan said.
“But for those who resort to criminal activity to defraud the system, to rip off their fellow Australians.. we have very sophisticated systems that can find you and make sure you are prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.”
Offenders will be forced to repay any money they’ve accepted illegally and in more serious cases, they will also be prosecuted.
“We will find out you are doing the wrong thing.. we will track you down,” Minister Keenan said.
Over the next few days Taskforce members will descend on the Centrelink office in Werribee as well as the local shopping centre where they will take tip offs from the public.
Investigators will also conduct snap audits behind the scenes.
When Ten Eyewitness News approached people for their opinions on the main street of Werribee this morning one man told us he suffers from epilepsy but cannot get access to the Disability Support Pension.
“They tell me I’ve got to go out and work,” he said.
“What sort of government have we got?”
Another resident told us it’s unfair to label Werribee as the home of Australia’s worst welfare cheats.
“There’s a lot of people doing it tough here.. but that can happen in any area.
“Some people probably look at doing the wrong thing, but there are others trying to do the right thing too.”
Werribee’s shameful statistics tower over the rest of the country.
The data shows Australia’s second worst offenders live in Caboolture/Deception Bay in Queensland, where almost 1,500 welfare cheats have rorted the system to the tune of nearly $3.5 million.
Craigmore in South Australia is close behind, with almost identical results
Ipswich in Queensland came in fourth with 1,100 people stealing $2.6 million.. followed by Liverpool in New South Wales where 743 people illegally accessed more than $2.5 million.
The Federal Government is urging welfare recipients to make sure their relationship status and any income changes are up to date in the system to avoid prosecution.
“Because we’ve got a very comprehensive welfare system in Australia, there’s always going to be a very small element that seek to take advantage of that,” Minister Keenan said.