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Why people pretending to be Indigenous is more than just fraud

Guest Author -
: Australians are outraged after it was reported former Cancer Council ambassador Amanda Power was charged with fraud after she allegedly faked a cancer diagnosis for fundraising purposes. Cancer is a terrible illness that affects many Australians and it’s bizarre that people would fake such a horrendous illness which is one of the biggest killers of so many loved ones when they could be supporting people who actually have the disease. Not only do these people misrepresent themselves to the public, but they also deny real cancer patients and survivors the opportunity to be an ambassador for the Cancer Council and represent the charitable cause themselves. Although she might not have been compensated financially, the opportunity cost and lost opportunities of being a brand ambassador for one of Australia's most prominent charities are sometimes more valuable than money could ever be, and someone has missed out on these opportunities because Amanda allegedly engaged in fraudulent behaviour and pretended to be something she wasn’t. In a rapidly changing world, most people adopt a trust system because we haven’t got the time to research and fact-check every single statement someone makes so generally speaking, we trust that people aren’t telling fibs about who they are. But the reality is that fraudsters are taking advantage of our goodwill, with identity fraud costing Australians billions of dollars every year which is putting our homes, employment prospects and even opportunities to break the poverty cycle at risk. These scammers are increasingly targeting First People and taking advantage of the disparity gaps as well as language barriers with Scamwatch receiving 4,958 reports from Indigenous Australians who had $4,800,000 in losses, which represents a 43 per cent increase in reports and 142 per cent increase in losses since 2020. Even the Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission claims as much as 5% of the $29bn national disability insurance scheme – or $1.45bn – is being stolen each year through fraud. So how much is Aboriginality fraud costing First Peoples? And why is this practice so common, particularly in the public service sector and academia? It’s frightening to think about how much money from the National Indigenous Australians Agency is being taken by fraud. On top of that, you have many large corporations claiming that they will increase their employment and business procurement contracts to First People, but as we’ve seen with Westpac which implemented a tick-the-box methodology to identity their Indigenous employees, how many of the box tickers actually have Indigenous heritage? When will the federal and state governments crack down on fraudsters pretending to be Indigenous and taking opportunities away from First People? We see the inaction of governments in addressing the disparity gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people as a symbol of their failure to make practical progress in closing those gaps. Their inaction towards achieving practical outcomes while opting for symbolic gestures is almost as bizarre as people pretending to be Indigenous.

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