In the last six months, serious enforcement action has been taken against 151 day care services which have cheated Australian taxpayers of almost $1 billion in subsidies.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the government has a “zero-tolerance” approach to day care providers who cheat the system, and further action was still underway.
Asked at a recent press meeting what sort of activities the dodgy providers were undertaking, Mr Birmingham said they were claiming subsidies for children who aren't in care, who don't exist, or who are overseas. Some created false paperwork, claiming more hours of care than they really provided.
“We're undertaking 4000 plus checks and we've been cancelling services,” he said, “and we have a number of people facing prosecution.”
The government brought in a new child care package on 2 July, providing $2.5 billion of child care. support for deserving families. Minister Birmingham said it was vital these funds went to hardworking Australian families, not into the pockets of rorters or frauds.
Under the new package, a family’s annual adjusted taxable income will determine the percentage of subsidy they are eligible for. An activity test will determine how many hours of subsidised care families can access, up to a maximum of 100 per fortnight. The type of child care service will determine the hourly rate cap.
So far, 28 people have been charged with child care fraud offences. Sixteen of these have been convicted of criminal offences, and a further 12 cases are still before the courts.
Parents who are affected by the closure of a provider can contact the Child Care Access Hotline number on 1800 670 305, or visit the Mychild website at www.mychild.gov.au.