Governing social security fraud and non-compliance in Australia [thesis]

Scarlet Wilcock
2017
This thesis critically and systematically explores the set of strategies deployed by the Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) in the name of fighting social security fraud and other forms of unlawful welfare claiming, known as the welfare compliance program. These strategies include pre-emptive data surveillance, payment reviews, a dedicated fraud tip-off line and fraud investigation and prosecution strategies. To examine Australia's welfare compliance program, this thesis draws on a
more » ... ucauldian governmentality analytic and critical theories of crime, policing and the welfare state. These analytical and theoretical tools are supplemented with interview data derived from semi-structured participant interviews with DHS officials and social security lawyers as well as documentary data gathered for this thesis research. Using this interdisciplinary research framework, this thesis charts and analyses specific welfare compliance strategies and the logics and practices that underpin them. It considers how welfare non-compliance is policed and the ways in which these policing practices may shape the contours of welfare administration. The focus of analysis is on the extent to which welfare compliance mechanisms are informed and shaped by criminal justice logics and practices, and their effects on welfare delivery. This thesis argues that the emergence of Australia's contemporary welfare compliance regime has been deemed necessary and realisable because of the production of social security recipients as putative criminals, or at least prone to criminality. The growth of the welfare compliance regime has facilitated the spread of criminal justice logics and practices into the arena of welfare administration. The overall effect of this regime is to restrict access to social security, punish recipients and stigmatise welfare use. But, this thesis research also highlights the variability and multiplicity in the enactment of specific welfare compliance initiatives. This illustrates that the criminalisation of social s [...]
doi:10.26190/unsworks/3464 fatcat:xeb22jkauzharc772snlbfqloe