A DISABILITY support worker who ripped off nearly $46,000 from taxpayers has been ordered to repay the cash.
Katrine Egeberg made false claims, or under-reported her income, to Centrelink over a period of about five years.
She was receiving two benefits – parenting payments and Newstart – and frequently claimed to have received no income.
But Egeberg was in fact making up to $1116 a week working in her job as a support worker with Aspire.
Her benefits were cross-referenced with the tax office in September 2015, which uncovered her scam.
She was overpaid $45,927 and has given back $3346 since being caught out.
The Department of Human Services successfully sought an order in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on Monday for the remaining $42,581 to be repaid.
Egeberg has been using welfare payments to reimburse the government.
Lawyer Sally Wilson said her client had been battling anxiety, depression, alcoholism and family violence during the period of the offending.
She was struggling to pay her bills as a single parent, the court heard.
“It is a lot of money your honour, and she appreciates that,” Ms Wilson said.
“She is now in control of her finances.”
But a prosecutor for the DHS noted it was a deliberate act over five years which had netted close to $50,000.
Magistrate Stella Stuthridge agreed the offending was serious.
“I think it has to be imprisonment,” she said of the appropriate penalty.
The magistrate said many people supported their families on the sort of wage Egeberg was making without resorting to her behaviour.
The Wodonga woman has priors relating to amphetamines, driving and assault and has had issues with drug addiction.
“This was very serious offending,” Ms Stuthridge told the court.
She suspended Egeberg’s 12-month jail term on the grounds she serve an 18-month good behaviour bond.