The Centrelink Annual Report for 2010-11 reveals that Centrelink referred 1273 cases to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) to consider prosecution for a criminal offence. This was significantly less than the year 2009-2010 in which 4608 cases were referred to the CDPP.
A study by the University of Wollongong has found that women are more likely to be convicted of social security fraud than men. The study, “Centrelink Prosecutions at the Employment/Benefit Nexus”, looked at cases of social security fraud that were brought to the court at Wollongong. It found that 57 per cent of the defendants were women. This is a significantly greater proportion than other areas of the criminal law, in which women make up only 21 per cent of all defendants.
The study also found that the majority of cases involved individuals between the ages of 36 and 40 years, the majority of the people had a debt to Centrelink of less than $10,000, and for criminal matters the most common area of employment was the hospitality industry.
The study found that the type of benefit that the offender was receiving was most likely to be Parenting payments (single and partnered) at 40 per cent of all defendants in the study group, Newstart allowance at 38 per cent, Disability allowance at 12 per cent, other allowances at 6 per cent and Youth allowance at 4 per cent.
The study found that 58 per cent of offenders received a good behaviour bond, 26 per cent a community service order and 16 per cent imprisonment.
Further information about the study can be found here: http://media.uow.edu.au/releases/UOW112410.html