On Friday, 9 November 2018, a 38-year-old female (name suppressed) was sentenced in the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne for dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth by submitting false claims for child care rebates. The offender was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and eligible for release on recognisance after 9 months, subject to a good behaviour condition for 3 years. The total proven amount the offender defrauded was $462,578.56 for child care claims submitted from February to December 2015.
In July 2015, the Australian Federal Police commenced an investigation, Operation Caulis with the assistance of the Department of Education and Training as well as other Commonwealth and state regulatory authorities. The investigation into alleged frauds perpetrated against the Commonwealth by self-employed educators and family day care providers revealed the criminal activity was extensive.
The investigation identified Rosa Riak, Kuol Deng and Achai Deng (a family who operated a number of family day care provider businesses) to be involved in fraudulent activity in connection with child care claims submitted to the Department of Education and Training. They were sentenced in August this year—Rosa Riak and Kuol Deng were each sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years. Achai Deng was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment released forthwith to be of good behaviour for 18 months.
The offender, an educator who submitted claims through a number of family day care providers, was found to have not provided care on many occasions. Further, the offender also provided a false training certificate in children’s services in an attempt to demonstrate her eligibility to provide child care.
The offender is the second educator in Operation Caulis to have been sentenced to an immediate term of imprisonment. In August this year, Mr Clement Iheng, age 57, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment released after serving six months to be of good behaviour for two years.
Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, David Adsett commended the extensive work done by investigators and prosecutors to bring the cases before the courts.
“These matters are complicated in nature and fall toward the top of the scale of criminality of this kind of offence where an entire team of investigators and prosecutors worked hard to detect, unpack and prove the extent of the fraud”.
“I also congratulate the AFP, the Department of Education and Training and our team of prosecutors for bringing this group to justice—no matter the crime, no one is above the law”.
AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Brue Hill said the investigation required close collaboration between the AFP, Department of Education and CDPP.
“I’d like to commend the tenacity and dedication of all members involved in the investigation, which relied on the working relationships and combined specialist skills of these Commonwealth agencies,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Hill said.
The offender was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment to be released after serving nine months and to be of good behaviour for three years in relation to the offence contrary to s135.1(3) of the Criminal Code.
The offender will be eligible for release in August 2019.
Note: a suppression order has been granted resulting in the non-publication of the offender’s name in this case report.