Two officers at Department of Home Affairs engaged in corrupt conduct

By Anna Macdonald

June 22, 2022

Australian Border Force
Operation Ajax found two officers of the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection were using fraudulent medical certificates. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

A joint investigation between the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the Department of Home Affairs has found two officers of the formerly-named Department of Immigration and Border Protection engaged in corrupt conduct.

The Operation Ajax investigation found officers indentified as only Officer Q and Officer H were both using fradulent medical certificates, with Officer Q found to have used the certificates for leave on 28 occassions and Officer H found to have provided six fraudulent certificates.

Officer Q and Officer H were also found to have received benefits of $9,270 and $384.75, respectively.

In a report published on the investigation’s findings, the integrity commissioner and head of the ACLEI Jaala Hinchcliffe said the investigation served as a reminder for agency staff of the integrity risks and the need for consistent integrity education, even in roles that are not directly related to security. 

Without a staff member noticing Officer H was falsifying a medical certificate, the conduct would have been unnoticed. Hinchcliffe cautioned management to be vigilant on behavioural changes such as repeated absences.

“Operation Ajax presents as a timely reminder of the need for appropriate supervisor vigilance and adherence to policy in areas of ostensibly ‘routine’ administration that may be open to corrupt exploitation. 

“Managers can drive positive attendance by setting early, clear and realistic expectations in line with organisational culture and individual requirements,” Hinchcliffe said. 

Hinchcliffe wrote in the report that she found the findings of Operation Ajax to be in the public interest, hence the report’s publication. 

The investigation began in March 2017, with leave taken by Officer Q from August 2011 to July 2017 using fradulent medical certiifcates.

Officer Q appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court in September 2020 and was sentenced to a 12-month good-behaviour bond and 200 hours of community service. The unnamed officer was also ordered to reimburse $4,564.12, with two years to pay it off. The department had already recovered $4,705.57. 

In response to the investigation, the Department of Home Affairs has said it has implemented several strategies and fraud controls to address issues. For example, the Home Affairs Fraud and Corruption Control Plan (FCCP) was launched in July 2021, and summarises key areas of fraud and corruption risks. 

The report comes as a former Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) employee was found of fraud earlier this month


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