(De-)Criminalizing Welfare? The Rise and Fall of Social Security Fraud Prosecutions in Australia
The social security fraud prosecution rate has fallen by approximately 74.9 per cent in Australia since 2010. This is remarkable considering the national dialogue continues to propound a 'zero tolerance' approach to fraud in the welfare system. Drawing on interviews with compliance staff from the Australian Department of Human Services, documentary research and a Foucauldian governmentality analytic, this article charts and interrogates the declining welfare fraud prosecution rate in the context of neoliberal welfare reform. It argues that this decline is at least partially the result of the reformulation of the objects of prosecution strategies by staff responsible for their enactment. This finding highlights the importance of localized accounts of welfare administration to supplement and complicate macro analyses of the 'criminalization of welfare' in Western industrialized nations.