Sentencing of Melissa Jade Higgins
- Minister for Education and Training
Today’s sentencing sends a strong message to those seeking to rort child care payments - you will be caught.
Melissa Jade Higgins, sole director of Aussie Giggles FDC was today sentenced to seven years imprisonment – with a non-parole period of four years.
Any report of fraudulent activity will be investigated and where wrongdoing is found we are taking action to shut down the service. The consequences will be severe, including the possibility of gaol.
The successful prosecution of this case is the result of a well-coordinated effort by government agencies to disrupt the activities of both opportunistic and highly organised non-compliant Family Day Care (FDC) services.
FDC offers a valuable service to many Australian families, but too often the sector has been a hotbed of shonks and rorters.
We want Australian families to feel confident their children are in the care of honest, high quality FDC educators
That’s why we are determined to stop dodgy operators and return integrity to the sector.
Today’s sentencing highlights the effectiveness of the Coalition Government’s efforts to crackdown on fraudulent FDC operators.
The Coalition Government has increased child care compliance checks by 500 per cent to more than 3,000 in just three years and this laser-like focus is weeding the shonks and rorters out from the high quality providers.
Some of the examples of rorting we’ve seen are why the Turnbull Government has introduced a range of measures to crack down on child care providers trying to rort the system, saving taxpayers around $1 billion. In February we brought forward additional powers expected to prevent a further $250 million going to unscrupulous operators.
The Turnbull Government’s reforms to child care and early education that have passed Parliament will also further strengthen the compliance measures we’ve already introduced with unprecedented powers to boost our ability to crack down on rorters.
The Turnbull Government has increased the number of compliance checks in 2015-16 to 3,100 and is continuing to clean up the mess Labor created when it reduced the number of checks to just 523 in 2012-13.
I would like to thank all agencies involved in the investigation including the AFP, Departments of Human Services and Education and Training.