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You are here: Home Publications and research publications misconduct qhealth Key learnings and recommendations from the fraud committed against QHealth
You are here: Home Publications and research publications misconduct qhealth Key learnings and recommendations from the fraud committed against QHealth
You are here: Home Publications and research publications misconduct qhealth Key learnings and recommendations from the fraud committed against QHealth

Key learnings and recommendations from the fraud committed against QHealth

The report, Fraud, financial management and accountability in the Queensland public sector, gives an account of the $16.69 million fraud committed by Queensland Health (QHealth) employee Hohepa Morehu-Barlow (Barlow) over a four-year period commencing October 2007.  It describes Barlow’s fraudulent activities, the specific mechanisms by which he committed the frauds, and the organisational factors within QHealth that helped facilitate them.

This report highlights the responsibilities – and accountability – of public servants as stewards of public money. It also seeks to raise their awareness of the potential for fraud in the workplace, their own responsibilities in preventing it, and the high cost of managerial inaction.

Key learnings from the QHealth experience

The QHealth experience demonstrates that any agency can harbour a high-risk employee, and that internal weaknesses put agencies at risk. Section 3 (PDF) of the report contains important messages for all public sector employees, whatever their agency:

  1. Compliance with policy and procedures is a strong defence against fraud
  2. Public servants are accountable officers under the Financial Accountability Act
  3. Proactive, engaged supervision is fundamental to public sector integrity
  4. Effective change management should identify emerging risks or vulnerabilities
  5. Fraud awareness and prevention is the responsibility of all employees
  6. Information from complaints and audits are important early warnings.

Recommendations to managers and staff of public agencies

The report also identifies five main areas in which agencies should be particularly vigilant:

  • Financial management
  • Managerial standards and accountability
  • Acceptance of gifts and benefits
  • Managing risk in a context of organisational change
  • Fraud awareness and prevention.

These are discussed in more detail in section 4 (PDF).

The CMC recommends that agencies consider and address these issues at all levels of their organisation including but not limited to, executive management, with particular consideration by members of risk and audit committees.  All managers and supervisors are encouraged to review their local processes and practices in order to identify any emerging issues.

Last updated: 17 January 2017

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