Welfare debt dodgers to face overseas travel bans

Anyone owing money to Centrelink and other Government agencies could be prevented from travelling overseas in a bid to recover millions of dollars in welfare debts.

150,000 Australians owe the Government around $800 million because they were overpaid or received welfare fraudulently.

The Government has already stopped a number of people from leaving the country with more than 20 Departure Prohibition Orders issued.


Human Services Minister Michael Keenan says they will target people who consistently refuse to pay back money owed.

“It’s very important people repay money to the Australian taxpayer,” Mr Keenan said.

“The money that funds the welfare system has been earned by hardworking Austalians and they expect us to make sure that system operates with integrity, that people get the support that they need and that they’re not getting more out of the system than they’re entitled to.”

Mr Keenan says the travel bans will only be issued for large debts where efforts to recoup the money have previously failed.

One person from New South Wales was stopped from travelling overseas for business because of an outstanding $10,000 debt.

The measure has previously been used to target parents who have refused to meet child welfare payments but is now being extending.

Interest payments will also be added to unpaid debts.