A Lismore person with gender dysphoria, who was overpaid more than $41,000 by Centrelink after failing to declare the income, has been ordered to do 80 hours community service and repay the money.
Shannon Maree Kelly appeared in Lismore Local Court on Tuesday and was represented by solicitor Ms Dagg.
The 39 year-old faced three counts of receiving financial advantage from a commonwealth entity.
Ms Dagg told the court that Kelly had gender dysphoria for many years, resulting in him feeling he was a woman.
The court heard the charges related to a period of time between April 26, 2013 and October 28, 2015, while Kelly was in receipt of disability support payments.
Court documents stated during the two-and-a-half year period, Kelly intentionally failed to inform the Department of Human Services of her employment income from the Macadamia Processing Company Limited.
‘As a result of that omission, [Kelly] obtained a financial advantage for herself from the commonwealth, being Disability Support Payments, knowing or believing that she was not eligible to receive that financial advantage,’ the charges stated.
The three charges were due to Kelly failing to report her income over three different periods between April 2013 and October 2015.
‘The offending was detected by way of data match with the Australian Taxation Office,’ court documents stated.
Ms Dagg said Kelly was highly anxious about being able to provide for her son financially, and during the period had a gambling habit.
The court heard Kelly was well respected in the community and her employer and references tendered to the court spoke very favourably of her.
Magistrate David Heilpern said the maximum penalty for the offences was 12 moths jail.
‘This was over a lengthy period of time and a continuing course of conduct…some due to a gambling habit which you no longer have,’ he said.
He said Kelly showed some remorse by paying back $100 a week, sometimes more, despite being on a low income, and by pleading guilty to the charges at the first opportunity.
‘The amount, as I said, is a significant and large amount,’ Mr Heilpern said.
Kelly was ordered to perform 80 hours community service and provide fingerprints and identification to police.
Mr Heilpern also ordered her to repay $26,995.20 to the Department of Community Services