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CentreLink Offences

You may not know, but it is a criminal offence to receive a benefit from the Department of Social Security, or Centrelink dishonestly. The Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, prescribes specific offences for persons who commit such offences. Some examples are,

  • Obtaining a newstart allowance and failing to declare part-time earnings.
  • Obtaining a single parent allowance and failing to declare a live-in defacto relationship.
  • Obtaining an invalid pension and failing to disclose full time employment.

Often a person who commits these offences do not realise the serious consequences of their actions, and once they have commenced the conduct, find it difficult to stop. Each time a person receives a payment a separate offence is committed.

Where a matter has been referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution, usually the decision is made to commence proceeding for offences under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, and the maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment up to 12 months for each offence.

The matter will come before a Local Court in NSW and dealt in the court’s summary jurisdiction. Often, the defendant pleads guilty to the charges and the magistrate will sentence the defendant. The sentence imposed by a magistrate will depend on the circumstances of each case, and in most cases are dealt with by way of a good behaviour bond, fine or suspended sentence.

You may believe your circumstance is out of need not greed. It is important that the magistrate be well informed about the circumstances of why the defendant committed the offence. In many cases defendants commit the offence because they are in financial hardship and needed the extra funds to survive. In these situations, reports or documents may be required to prove the point, and if the magistrate accepts that the offences were committed out “need”, then that is taken into account when sentence is passed. So you need an expert representative that not only argue with law but also understand you.