The Ministry of Social Development are being accused in an investigation into the death of Wendy Shoebridge for having monthly quotas to prosecute beneficiaries for benefit fraud.
“AAAP see this treatment of beneficiaries by fraud investigators who are encouraged by MSD to punish beneficiaries as emblematic of the toxic culture of MSD which has turned lethal,” says Vanessa Cole spokesperson for AAAP.
“The former MSD investigator in the case of Wendy Shoebridge revealed that MSD had forced investigation staff to get at least one prosecution, and recover $30,000 in debt per month.
“AAAP interviewed a women recently who had suicidal thoughts because she was being threatened with criminal prosecution from a fraud investigator.
“Many of the fraud cases AAAP deals with involve women being accused of not declaring a relationship in the nature of marriage.
“Fraud investigators do not have the ability to distinguish between a relationship in the nature of marriage, and a relationship based on violence, abuse and threat.
“Ongoing fraud investigations punish beneficiaries and in many cases contribute to the ongoing trauma experienced by women.
“This is bitterly ironic given that Work and Income staff as of Monday will demand ID before anyone can enter the office. This is done because of their safety concerns.
“Who is monitoring the health and safety of beneficiaries encountering the lethality of Work and Income?.”