Centrelink has sought to dispel fears of a special mode of detection for same-sex couple welfare fraud, saying compliance will be approached in the same way as opposite-sex couples.
After changes to legislation last year Centrelink says it has simply pulled its policy in line with opposite-sex couples, meaning anyone in a same-sex de facto relationship will now be recognised as partnered.
Centrelink said it was a myth the welfare agency would be tracking down same-sex couples any differently from opposite-sex couples after the July 1 deadline.
-œFollowing 1 July 2009, the same means of detecting and preventing welfare fraud will extend to all customers living as a couple, including same-sex couples, Centrelink general manager Hank Jongen told Southern Star.
-œThis is currently done using a number of methods, including data-matching. There is no special program that will apply to same-sex couples.
Centrelink data matching includes cross-checking information lodged at other government agencies, such as the Australian Tax Office, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line.
Centrelink says it will initially rely on the community to come forward to disclose their sexuality.
The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Right Lobby has expressed concern over the impact relationship disclosure may have on some members of the community who live in closeted relationships.
-œI think there are older people, and younger people as well, who are concerned that these changes to social security benefits will require them to -˜out’ themselves, VGLRL co-convenor, Hayley Conway said.
-œI think government agencies like Centrelink do need to be careful how they approach this. They can’t judge same-sex or transgender relationships in the same way they judge opposite-sex relationships.
-œWe are different communities, we do have different behaviours.
-œObviously there are some similarities but there are also some great differences and I think there needs to be an awareness of that and a respect for that kind of diversity, much the same as the government is required to respect the cultural and religious diversities in other groups of people.

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