Our compliance program helps protect Australia’s welfare system. It helps our customers avoid getting a debt or committing fraud.
We have information in different languages about Compliance program
Keeping your details up to date
Keeping your details up to date audio
Call our Multilingual Phone Service to speak with us in your language about your Centrelink payments and services.
What we do
We want to make sure you get the right payment and the right amount. Our proactive payment reviews help you to avoid owing money.
We know most people do the right thing. Sometimes people make mistakes and get paid the wrong amount. But any incorrect payments may result in a debt you’ll need to repay.
We investigate customers who may be withholding details or giving us false information. We refer cases with evidence of criminal behaviour to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
How we carry out compliance
Our compliance activities include:
- identity checks
- regular payment reviews.
We work with the public, other government agencies and the private sector, and share details about intelligence activities when needed.
Currently, we partner with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Taskforce Integrity.
We also partner with the National Disability Insurance Agency and the AFP on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Fraud Taskforce.
We also use information from all of the following:
- the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
- the Department of Education, Skills and Employment
- other sources to match income information reported by people who get a payment.
Income Compliance Program refunds
From July 2020, you may have noticed a change to your income compliance debt. This is if we raised the debt using averaged ATO income information.
Understand how your income affects your partner
Your partner may have got a payment from us in that financial year. If this is the case, any change to your past income may affect their past payment.
It may be that your income was higher than what you told us at the time and we overpaid you. If that’s the case, we may have also overpaid your partner. This is because your income affects your partner’s Centrelink payments.
We’ll write to your partner to let them know we’ve asked you to check and update your past income. The outcome may affect their past payments. We won’t ask them to check or update their past income.
Once you’ve checked and updated your past income, we’ll write to your partner again to let them know the result. If we overpaid them, they’ll need to pay money back. We’ll also let them know if there’s no change.
What the Income Compliance class action is
In November 2019, Gordon Legal filed a class action lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Australia on behalf of 6 applicants and other group members. You may also know this as the robodebt class action. The class action relates to Centrelink debts raised by income compliance reviews since July 2015. This includes people with debts that didn’t use averaged ATO income information.
In November 2020, the Commonwealth and Gordon legal agreed to a proposed settlement.
Following hearings on 6 and 7 May 2021, the Federal Court is currently considering whether to approve the proposed class action settlement.
Read more about the proposed class action settlement.
How you can help us with our compliance activities
You can help us to carry out our compliance activities.
If you think someone may be committing fraud, you should report it. There are different online forms to report fraud, or you can call the Fraud tip-off line. You don’t have to give your name. We take all reports of suspected fraud seriously. Specialist officers assess the fraud reports we get.
We often test our letters and online systems. Read more about how we use market research to improve our services and products.
You can also let us know if our webpages have been useful and which pages we need to improve. You can use the poll at the bottom of most of our webpages to do this.
How you can make sure you comply
Keep your details up to date
If you’re getting a payment from us, it’s important to tell us straight away if your circumstances change. This is so we can give you the right payment.
The amount we pay you may also go up or down if something in your life changes.
Keep your partner’s details up to date
When you get a payment from us, we usually need to know your partner’s income as well as yours. You need to report changes in their income the same way you report changes in your income.
Keep important records
You need to keep all relevant records, such as:
- financial statements
- tax returns
- payslips or payment summary
- rental history
- bank statements
- any other documents that may help us and you.
This will help if we need you to check and update the information we have about either:
- your and your partner's income, which may include employment, business, assets and investment income
- other details that might affect your payments.
Respond to our requests
Please don’t ignore any letters we send you. Always respond to the requests in the letter by the due date. If we ask you to check your details, the quickest and easiest way to do this is using self service.
What reviews we run
We run a number of reviews as part of our compliance program.
Bank interest reviews
We check if the bank account details you told us are correct. We need to check we paid you the right payment and amount in the past.
Read more about our bank interest reviews.
Business income reviews
We check the business income you reported was correct and if we paid you the right amount in the past.
Read more about our business income reviews.
Family Day Care operator reviews
We check you’ve correctly reported the income you get from your Family Day Care operation.
Read more about our Family Day Care operators compliance reviews.
High risk change in circumstance reviews
Based on research we found there was a high risk of us overpaying people in certain circumstances. We now contact people in these circumstances to ask them to confirm or update their:
Rent Assistance reviews
We may review your rent details to check they're up to date.
We check you’ve correctly reported the income you get from trusts.
Read more about our trust reviews.
Proof of Life reviews
The Proof of Life process proves to us you’re alive and entitled to continue to get your pension. Only customers who live outside Australia and are over 80 will need to do this.
Read more about Proof of Life for:
Page last updated: 7 May 2021
This information was printed 6 May 2021 from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/compliance-program. It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/site-notices when using this material.