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WINZ Thefts Highlight Need For Culture Change

11 April 2002

Green Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford today said news that 28 WINZ staff have stolen nearly $1 million from the Department over the last two years highlighted the need for a shift in culture within the Department.

"These thefts are not one offs. This is serious sustained theft from a significant number of employees over a number of years. It is incidents like these that highlight the rotten culture that developed within the Department during the late 1990's.

"The Department must make every effort possible to stamp out this culture and any employers who are not up to scratch," she said.

"I know there are many good people within the Department who genuinely want to help beneficiaries. As part of changing the culture of the organisation the ongoing focus must be on removing employees who are there for the wrong reasons and attracting people who are committed to making a difference."

Ms Bradford said there was obviously a need within the Department for ongoing and intensive monitoring.

"I wonder whether some problems like these have been exacerbated by some unemployed people being pushed against their will into working for the Department.

"I also am stunned at the hypocrisy of this revelation in that during the late 1990's we saw the 'dob in the beneficiary' campaign which made most beneficiaries feel like criminals at the same time as the Department administering benefits was rife with corruption.

"This is money that taxpayers contribute to help people who need it. One million dollars is a lot of money and, given the scale of offending, I would not be surprised if there was more offending as yet uncovered.

"These thefts are outrageous and I hope recent changes in management will lead to a marked shift in culture within the Department of Work and Income," said Ms Bradford.

Ends

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