Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
Call for your free consultation (02) 9025 9888

What is Centrelink fraud?

Over the last month, there have been a number of changes to Centrelink entitlements as the Australian government responds to a significant number of job losses across the country....

Justin Wong

Over the last month, there have been a number of changes to Centrelink entitlements as the Australian government responds to a significant number of job losses across the country.

One of the changes has been a temporary relaxation to the income test for JobSeeker claims, specifically increasing the amount your partner can earn before it impacts your eligibility.

If you have started to claim JobSeeker payments after being stood down but were also nominated for JobKeeper payments, it is important to declare any change of income to Centrelink.

At this time, it is particularly important to check the fine print and rules that apply to you and your situation.

Failing to comply with the rules of your entitlement could lead to criminal charges of Centrelink fraud. Such charges are found in the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and include:

  • Obtaining financial advantage, knowing that you are not eligible to receive that advantage (section 135.2)
    • Penalty: Imprisonment for 12 months
  • Obtaining a financial advantage by deception (section 134.2)
    • Penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years

Examples of these offences include:

  • Failing to declare a partner’s income
  • Failing to advise Centrelink that you are living as a member of a couple
  • Claiming benefits under multiple names or identities
  • Continuing to claim benefits for children no longer under your care
  • Continuing to claim benefits for caring for someone no longer in need of care or under your care
  • Incorrectly stating your living circumstances including your rental circumstances
  • Incorrectly claiming emergency payments in times of disaster when no entitlement exists

There are a number of factors that the court will take into account when dealing with these offences. Details of these factors and possible defences can be found here.

Offences of this nature are usually taken quite seriously by the courts, particularly if there is some element of dishonesty. It is important to seek legal advice and understand your options if you have been charged with any of these offences.

Photo by Oleg Magni