Fake couples who are fraudulently claiming social security payments, or committing migration fraud, are under the Australian Government’s microscope thanks to a new data-matching programme.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and Minister for Human Services Senator the Hon Marise Payne recently announced the programme will target welfare recipients who are on single payments but have declared sponsorship of a partner for immigration purposes.
Mr Dutton said the joint operation will enable the Department to identify people suspected of being involved in migration fraud through the partner visa programme.
“Last year, my Department identified an increase in the number of allegations relating to the facilitating of contrived marriages,” Mr Dutton said.
“This data-matching programme is part of a whole-of-government approach to fraud detection and prevention. People who deliberately take advantage of Australia’s welfare and migration system will be caught.
“If a member of the community suspects that a person is unlawfully in Australia, committing migration fraud, or working in breach of their visa conditions, then they should contact the Immigration dob-in service on 1800 009 623.
“The consequences are serious – people may be forced to repay the benefits they were not entitled to, have their visa application refused, or face criminal charges.”
Minister Payne said the programme may also identify people who are fraudulently claiming higher-paying welfare payments for singles, when they are a member of a couple.
“The Government is committed to protecting taxpayers’ money and the integrity of Australia’s social security system by ensuring people receive the right payment at the right time,”
Minister Payne said.
“People who receive a Centrelink payment and deliberately fail to declare their correct relationship status to the Department of Human Services are breaking the law.
“Last financial year, data-matching activities conducted by my Department returned $132.7 million in net benefits to government.
“This programme is a win-win for taxpayers as it strengthens our ability to prevent, detect and investigate fraud matters which impact both Departments.”
The partner visa data-matching programme will begin in mid-2015 and initially run for a year, conducted in line with privacy legislation and guidelines set by the Privacy Commissioner. Suspected welfare or migration fraud will be investigated by the relevant Departments.