The AFP this week raided the Lakemba family day care businesses of brothers Mohammad and Ibrahim Omar, aged 27 and 25, who received more than AUS$27 million in Commonwealth childcare benefits and rebates since 2012 for the nearly 600 home providers of child day care on their books.
Day care educators can care for up to seven children in their own home and must pass criminal history and Working With Children checks. Each child is required to have a customer reference number, which can only be obtained by visiting a Department of Human Services center and providing identity documents including a birth certificate and a bank statement.
The family day care scheme is overseen by the federal Education Department but regulated by state education departments, which are responsible for inspections of providers.
After a year long investigation, AFP investigators seized the records of Mohammad and Ibrahim Omar’s family daycare companies and their nearly-600 home family day care providers in raids across Sydney this week.
Police are investigating providers for claiming benefits and rebates for children that never existed, were documented as being cared for by several providers at once and which included falsified immunization records.
One of the arrested men, 22-year-old Ali Assaad, is the secretary of Sydney charity Dar al Quran wa Sunnah, which employed a man accused by Lebanese authorities of funding the Islamic State terrorist group.
Police allege Assaad collected more than $152,000 in child care benefits in the past financial year and claimed to be looking after children in his Moorebank home in Sydney’s south-west when he was actually in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Counter-terrorism police are investigating whether millions of dollars in childcare subsidies and rebates have been routed and sent offshore, under the noses of federal and New South Wales education, welfare and health authorities.
The AFP is expecting to make more arrests as part of the investigation.