How to report fraud

Discover how to report suspected fraud and learn about the department’s approach to Fraud Control.

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What is Fraud?

The Commonwealth defines fraud as "Dishonestly obtaining a benefit, or causing a loss, by deception or other means". In this definition, "benefit" can be money or objects, power, status or information.

Fraud Strategy Statement

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has a responsibility to ensure appropriate use of public resources to achieve its goals and promote financial sustainability. A robust fraud control environment encourages public and government confidence in maintaining the integrity of the department’s activities. Fraud control supports the department’s governance structure to meet policy and operational objectives in an appropriately risk managed manner.

The department is committed to preventing and controlling fraud however, this can only be achieved through the collective effort of staff, contractors, external service providers and the community. The department's Fraud Strategy Statement provides more information about the department's stance on fraud.

Reporting Fraud

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is committed to preventing fraud in all aspects of its business. If you suspect fraudulent activity within a program administered by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, or by one of its employees, you should report it.

What kinds of fraud can the department investigate?

The department can investigate any suspected fraudulent activity relating to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. This can include fraud within or against a program administered by the department and fraud or unethical behaviour committed by departmental staff or contractors.

Examples of the types of fraud that the department can investigate include:

  • Falsified information being provided to the department, or its contracted service providers, such as to meet eligibility requirements for a program or benefit
  • Misuse of departmental information, including unauthorised access of information
  • Manipulation of procurement activities
  • Misuse of departmental funds or assets
  • Billing for services that were not delivered
  • Cartel behaviour, or collusion between businesses and employees.

What kinds of fraud can’t the department investigate?

The department can only investigate fraudulent activity within or against the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the programs it administers. Fraud allegations relevant to other departments and agencies must be handled by them.

Fraud relating to Centrelink, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule, child support payments and other Commonwealth benefits can be reported via the Services Australia website.

Fraud relating to visas and Australian residency, including that involving false education documentation, can be reported via the Department of Home Affairs website.

Suspected scams, including education related scams, can be reported via the Scamwatch website.

Suspected fake or falsified education or qualification documents can be reported to the relevant issuing institution, or to the business or service that is relying on the validity of the document.

If you have information relating to a new company that has been created to continue the business of an existing company that has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying taxes, creditors and employee entitlements, please visit the Australian Taxation Office website.

How to report fraud

You can provide information about suspected fraudulent activities or unethical behaviour by:

Email: fraud@dese.gov.au or

Phone: 02 6121 5450 (where you can leave a detailed voicemail message and contact details)

Anonymously report fraud through our online reporting tool. Our anonymous reporting tool, Whispli, allows you to report fraud and communicate directly with the department, without disclosing your identity.

To report fraud relating to the Child Care Subsidy you can contact us by calling 1800 664 231 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (AEDT) or emailing us at tipoffline@dese.gov.au

What information should I provide?

The department takes all allegations of fraud seriously but does require specific information to enable it to deal with your matter appropriately. By providing more information in the first instance (including supporting documents), we can look into your matter more efficiently.

You are encouraged to provide the following information:

  • Who is involved? Include as much detail as you can such as the name of the person or organisation, date of birth, addresses and phone numbers.
  • What fraud do you think has occurred? Please provide details of your concerns about the activity, including how, when and where it occurred.
  • How did you come across this information?
  • Your contact details (you can provide information anonymously).

What will happen next?

The department will make appropriate enquiries into your allegations. Due to privacy restrictions and/or the need to protect the integrity of any further investigation, the department may not provide you with details of the outcome of these enquiries.

In particular, please note that if your allegation involves another individual, the department may not be able to give you any information about the conduct or outcome of the investigation due to the department's obligations under the Privacy Act 1988.

Privacy Notice

Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988, and is collected by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment for the purposes of investigating allegations of suspected fraud.

If the information you provide does not relate to the activities or functions of the department, we may disclose the information to other Commonwealth, state or territory bodies (including law enforcement bodies) for appropriate assessment or action.

Your information may also be used by the department or given to other parties if it is required or authorised by law.

For more information about how the department manages personal information (including information on accessing or correcting information) and how to make a complaint, please view our full privacy policy or you can request a copy from the department by sending an email to privacy@dese.gov.au.

Safeguards for Persons Reporting Suspected Fraud

Reports of suspected fraud – and any subsequent investigations – are handled confidentially. If the information you provide relates to disclosable conduct, provisions under the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Act 2013 may be available to you.

Contact Us

For more information or if you wish to report suspected fraud, please email fraud@dese.gov.au or call the Fraud Hotline on 02 6121 5450 (where you can leave a detailed voicemail message and contact details) or the anonymous reporting tool, Whispli.