A MOWBRAY mother of four has been jailed over Centrelink fraud in a bid to deter others from rorting the system.
Tina Louise Cashion illegally obtained $32,600 in welfare after under-reporting her income over a four-year period.
Cashion, 39, a single-mother, was working at an aged care home from 2008 to 2012 where she persistently under-reported her working hours.
Yesterday Launceston Magistrate Reg Marron said the nature and extent of the offending, and the multiple warnings received by Cashion, warranted a jail term.
Friends and family were shocked and in tears when Cashion was led away to serve a three-month jail term, with the remaining six months suspended.
``The nature of this offending against the Commonwealth is very serious as it undermines our welfare system so envied by many other countries,'' Mr Marron said.
``Consequently, offending of this type calls for a sentence of general deterrence to send a message.''
In a statement Centrelink said Cashion's under-reporting was picked up by its hi-tech data matching methods. ``This court result demonstrates that people setting out to exploit the system and commit welfare fraud for their own benefit face serious consequences,'' its general manager Hank Jongen said.
Mr Marron accepted Commonwealth prosecutor Roslyn Shaw's submissions that Cashion's offending was not an error of judgment but ``persistent and deliberate''.
On release Cashion will also have to do 168 hours of community service and repay $28,150 to the Federal Government.
Cashion, who pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining a financial advantage, was a remorseful offender, Mr Marron said.
``She acknowledged the anger in the community over her offences,'' he said.
The court heard Cashion separated from her husband, described as a ``part-time dad'', in 2005 and took up with an abusive partner who accessed her income benefits.
``Ms Cashion claimed as a result she began borrowing a great deal, drinking heavily and playing the pokies, which she said was also encouraged by her partner at the time,'' Mr Marron said.
``And then began under-declaring her income.''
A medical report stated Cashion had a long history of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression but this was given little weight in sentencing by Mr Marron.
The care of her four children aged nine to 17 will be handed to the eldest sibling and Cashion's mother, the court heard.
Mr Marron received positive character references from employer One Care, who said Cashion was a ``reliable, conscientious carer who was well liked and respected by the residents''.
The company said it would keep her position open until she was released from jail.