Centrelink Accussed of Using Police Logo to Threaten Recipients

Centrelink Accussed of Using Police Logo to Threaten Recipients

By Jay-Anna Mobbs

 

Centrelink has been accused of threatening vulnerable Australians into updating their personal details by the use of letter heads with the Australian Federal Police logo.

Letters addressed to welfare recipients in July under the heading “Taskforce Integrity” warned of the consequences of not releasing or providing false information in order to receive payments.

Within the letter, a list of a range of punishments were included such as criminal records and prison sentences.

Approximately 38,000 residents across four different locations were told the task force were currently working in their community.

Last year 0.018% of people receiving payments were investigated on the grounds of fraud, while 996 cases were referred to prosecutors with just 29 cases resulting in indictable charges.

Cassandra Goldie from the Australian Council of Social Service, believes this move that first began in 2015, is extremely immoral.

“It is completely inappropriate for the government to send letters to income support recipients with the Australian Federal Police logo asking if their details are up to date,” Ms Goldie said.

Linda Burney, Federal Labor MP is also against the move.

“Whether it’s the robo-debt debacle or inserting the AFP’s logo onto Centrelink letterheads, this government is only interested in victimising and harassing vulnerable Australian’s,” Ms Burney said.

Despite the backlash, a DHS spokesperson sees it as a means to educate and deter from possible fraud.

“Taskforce Integrity isn’t about prosecuting people who make genuine mistakes, it’s about enforcing the law and deterring those who set out to commit welfare fraud,” DHS spokesperson said.

More than 85,000 letters have been sent out by the task force.

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