Nearly 200 fake or dodgy daycare centres have been shut down after police linked them to criminal activity including an alleged large-scale multi-million dollar fraud.
Since 2016, 188 fraudulent family daycare operations have been shut down in NSW alone. One fake centre was in a house with no electricity. while another was listed as a garage with supposedly dozens of kids attending, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Shockingly, many of the dodgy operators have also been linked to overseas terrorism funding and bikie gangs.
Authorities have down nearly 200 dodgy family day care operators. Source: Daily Telegraph.
Police pursuing parents
The majority of the banned daycare providers are located in southwest Sydney. The hot spots are the Canterbury-Bankstown council area, with 49 licences cancelled, Liverpool with 25 licences cancelled, Fairfield with 23 licences cancelled and Auburn with 17 cancelled.
The closures include those linked to the Fairfield-based Red Roses Family Day Care company which was raided by police last month.
As part of the raid 18 people were arrested over an alleged $4 million fraud on the Commonwealth’s Child Care Subsidy Scheme.
Police are now pursuing up to 150 parents who allegedly sold their children’s identities to help Red Rose qualify for the subsidies.
A woman arrested in Fairfield West, and man arrested in Georges Hall. Picture: NSW Police
The blitz on dodgy operators came after regulators reported safety incidents involving weapons and personal threats when visiting some of the family daycare venues as the number of centres rapidly rose across NSW.
The big breakthrough appears to have come through cross-checking family daycare applications which revealed a tangled web of fraudulent associations. While some of the people involved were just trying to make dodgy money, others had far more sinister motives.
One convicted fraud, Hussain Dandachi, 28, was arrested in August 2016 after raids on several Western Sydney family day care centres as part of a wider investigation into a $27 million fraud and funding for Islamic State.
Mr Dandachi was jailed after pleading guilty to putting in false invoices worth $107,757 for children who were not in his care, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Many operators claimed money for children who did not attend. Source: iStock.
NSW gets more strict
Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Sarah Mitchell said NSW now had the country’s toughest entry requirements for family daycare providers.
Since NSW adopted Queensland’s practice of face-to-face interviews with applicants, about half of all applications have been refused.
“NSW is leading the nation when it comes to combating unscrupulous providers,” she said. “As Minister, I make no apology for being relentless in ensuring there will be consequences for providers who do not operate in the best interest of children."