A new report in the Australian Federal Police’s Crime Prevention Division reveals a growing number of school-to, school-related, and school transport system-related frauds affecting Australian schools.
A report prepared by police in March, titled ‘School-to School Fraud’, found that almost a quarter of school transport frauds were related to the transport system.
The report was commissioned by the Australian National Audit Office (ANZO), which found that the number of frauds involving the transport network had increased from 7 per cent of all school transport incidents in 2015-16 to 18 per cent in 2016-17.
The ANZO report also found that about two-thirds of fraudsters used the transport systems of other schools in order to commit fraud.
In the report, it also identified five new frauds that involved the transport transport system, including one involving a fraudster using a school bus.
The AFP said the investigation of school frauds had expanded in the past year, with more than 1,100 schools and colleges being investigated.
“As a result of this, schools are increasingly reliant on a variety of external reporting agencies to ensure compliance with the laws, regulations and guidelines governing school transport,” a spokesperson said.
“These include the Department of Education, the Department for Education and Training (DoE), and the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Mines (NPIM).”
In response to this, the AFP is expanding its enforcement actions against school fraud to include the transport networks involved, with over 1,000 additional agencies involved in the last financial year.
“While we continue to make significant progress in identifying and investigating school transport networks and schools, the number and scale of fraud cases continue to increase.”
The AFP has also launched an online tool called ‘Fraud Alert’ that allows schools to report suspicious activity.
“The AFP is committed to working with schools and other stakeholders to protect children, communities and the wider community from fraud and to ensure they are kept safe,” the spokesperson said of the online tool.
The national school transport network has been in the spotlight recently due to the rise in frauds in the country.
A number of schools in Victoria have recently been targeted by fraudsters, including the Danbury School, which has been under fire since February, after a report revealed the number had risen from about 50 students in March to almost 100.
The NSW Education Union is also investigating a report from the NSW Parliament that said some schools had been targeted in a series of school theft cases, including Danbury.
The ABC has contacted the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) for comment.