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Launch of campaign to reduce debt and keep the welfare system fair.



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Hon Peter Dutton MP Minister for Workforce Participation

Hon Joe Hockey MP

Minister for Human Services

05 September, 2005

Joint Media Release

Launch Of Campaign To Reduce Debt And Keep The Welfare System Fair Today, Minister for Workforce Participation, the Hon Peter Dutton MP and Minister for Human Services, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, launched an advertising campaign urging income support recipients to report changes to Centrelink. The Support the System that Supports You campaign is a continuation of the successful campaign run in 2002.

"Our country has a very generous safety net to support those who genuinely need help getting back on their feet or who are in between work. There is also a community expectation that taxpayers’ money is not paid to people who don’t need it and who are working on the side - that’s just not on," Peter Dutton said.

"This campaign is designed to maintain the integrity of the welfare system in helping those who genuinely need a hand. It’s also designed to help people steer clear of raising debts with Centrelink when their circumstances change," Mr Dutton said.

"Most people do the right thing and let Centrelink know about any changes to their circumstances - they don’t need to worry. There are also people who make genuine mistakes or forget to update their details - this system is not intended to penalise them", Joe Hockey said.

"But there are people who deliberately attempt to defraud the system or think it’s a small thing or no one will find out - those people will be caught. They will pay back the overpayments they received and they could go to jail for fraud", said Minister Hockey.

Report changes like taking on casual work, changes to work hours or living arrangements by calling 13 62 80 or visit your Centrelink Office.

Announced in the 2004-05 Budget, the campaign comprises national television, radio, press, internet and direct mail components. Advertisements aim to stop people being paid more money than they’re entitled to by encouraging them to report changes to Centrelink.

Centrelink checks over 3 million payments a year and last year, over $390million in debts was raised

against people who didn’t report changes to Centrelink. Dedicated teams and tailored IT systems review over 10,000 payments every day and people who have not reported their changes will be identified. These people will have to pay back the money they received, risk community service, a criminal record and even jail.

More information, including all the reporting changes, is available on the campaign website www.supportthesystem.gov.au..

For further information contact: Brad Emery (Minister Dutton) 02 6277 7630 Nadia Levin (Minister Hockey) 02 9929 9822