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Policing Insecurity: Debt, Fraud, Data and the Automated Welfare State

19 October 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm AEST

Woman and child sitting at table with laptop

A public lecture by Associate Professor Virginia Eubanks as part of Anti-Poverty Week 2022

Many of the digital risk prediction systems integrated into Unemployment, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemented Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other social insurance programs in the United States over the last two decades promised to reduce waste and abuse by stopping fraud before it starts. In reality, these systems are increasingly used to tunnel through decades-old program data, looking for alleged overpayments that are then converted into debt for collection by the federal Treasury Offset Program (TOP).

This talk compares the RoboDebt case in Australia to current practice in the United States, drawing on collaborative work with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to shed light on the political implications of punitive debt production in six states.

The public lecture will be followed by light refreshments.

Event Transcript


This event is jointly hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) and The University of Queensland Digital Cultures and Society (visit website).

ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated-Decision Making and Society
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About the Speaker

Virginia Eubanks

Associate Professor Virginia Eubanks
University at Albany, SUNY

Virginia Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor; Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Her investigative reporting and personal essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Scientific American, The Nation, Harper’s, and Wired. With Andrea Quijada, she is gathering oral histories of the global automated welfare state for Voice of Witness. She is a 2022 scholar-in-residence at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).


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Getting to the Event

This event is located at The University of Queensland's St Lucia Campus in the Sir Llew Edwards Building (#14) located on Campbell Road.

Paid parking is available along Blair Drive, Campbell Road, University Drive and in P10 located on Union Road (as indicated by the map below). More information about parking at The University of Queensland can be found here.

COVID-19 Safety Policy

If you become unwell or if you feel uncomfortable about attending in-person, there is an online webinar option available for this event. Please select ‘online admission’ when you register.

Please contact us via if you wish to change your registration to online at any time leading up to the event.

For those attending the Public Lecture in person:

  • Mask wearing is strongly encouraged during the event.
  • Please ensure you social distance where possible.

Attendees are reminded not to attend if:

  • they are feeling unwell and displaying COVID-19 symptoms (loss or change in sense of smell or taste, fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and runny nose).


19 October 2022
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm AEST


Online via Zoom Webinar / In-person at The University of Queensland
The Terrace Room (Level 6) - Sir Llew Edwards Building (14), The University of Queensland, Campbell Road
Saint Lucia, QLD 4072