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New technology helps raise $4.5 million in welfare debts a day

5 December 2016
The Hon Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Human Services
Australian Government Department of Human Services

A new online system is helping to raise $4.5 million in debt owed to the Commonwealth every day, a huge leap from the $295,000 per day in the past.

The new online compliance system, which became fully operational in July, is now initiating 20,000 compliance interventions a week – a jump from 20,000 a year previously.

Over 3 years it is expected to carry out 1.7 million compliance interventions.

Around $4.5 million in debts are being raised each day, in comparison to $295,000 per day prior to the system being introduced.

Welfare recipients are required to update changes in their income or personal situation and the department has stringent processes in place to ensure people are paid the correct amount of money, at the right time.

In the past, staff manually checked customer records against data provided by other government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office. Discrepancies were then followed up with customers via letter and phone, taking considerable time to identify anomalies.

The new online compliance system automates part of this process and encourages people to be proactive with correcting their records.

When data inconsistencies are detected, the system generates a letter asking people to check and update their details online using myGov.

Staff no longer need to carry out these reviews manually, and instead can now focus on helping people resolve discrepancies more quickly.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, said the new tool is making a major contribution to the Government’s fraud and non-compliance savings goals.

“The Government is using technology to quickly identify and inform people when overpayments occur due to a genuine mistake, and to ensure we detect the small number of people who deliberately try to defraud the system.”

“We are lucky to have a strong social security safety net, but it will only be sustainable if it is targeted and there is integrity in the system.

“Our aim is to ensure that people get what they are entitled to - no more and no less.  And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system.”