We are collecting stories on the site because we think it's important to have a way to people to add their voice to this issue by sharing their story. It's puts a human voice to the issues with using technology and automating systems and providing a blanket solution without providing staff and people that can right wrongs and help people when there is an error.
Please share your story with us if you have a Centrelink debt story that you believe has been issued in error or due to a fault in the system.
As frustrating as it is, persist with the appeals process, and know others are behind you.
Stories are 100% anonymous
I felt very stressed, it affected my everyday life!
I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t sleep. It affected my work where I have to be alert. I felt like I was a criminal when I did nothing wrong.
I have made so many complaints about this, and I am seriously considering ending my own life as a result of this, not just because of the debt, but how Centrelink have handed this
Am utterly broken. Two disabled kids whose therapy I already can't afford. I'm immune supressed with bacterial infection in my tooth that could kill me, and I can't afford to get it removed. My car needs repairs.
So much frustration and anxiety.
I am lucky that mine was dealt with (mostly) in a short period of time but that is only due to my persistence.
It was keeping me up at night, making me wait around, constantly retelling the same story with no outcome.
I'm a Masters student living in Melbourne only just surviving on the money I earn to buy everything. I received a letter from Centrelink last month saying that I owed $3700 from 2 years ago.
Huge anxiety single parent with two children one with a disability, contacted Local member of parliament was given telephone number of local Manager of Centrelink, very polite, but still said pay your debt or else...
Not sleeping ,,,, anxiety ,,, worrying as haven’t been on Newstart for 3 years !!!!!
I worked in mental health since 2006. I live with Bipolar, PTSD and Dissassociative disorder. In 2011 I had to stop work as I was fighting a 12 month long depressive episode. I was actively suicidal and ended up hospitalised.
I received this debt more than a year after starting my current job after providing payslips on request after a call informing me I had a $400 "provisional debt".
I was ordered to pay over $14000 in June 2019 for debts from 2014-2015. I believe these figures are very incorrect.
The letters you receive do not give any information why and they just demand your hard working dollars that are already spent on taxes and HECS.
I got this debt a few years ago and they reckon I owed them money because at the time I was on parenting payment partnered n they said my partner earned 60000 in 2 years n I stated less... but my partner at that time was on sickness benefit for almost a year waiting for surgery so he couldn't have enered that.
Anxious, and getting no help from the people I speak with at centrelink.
Worried I won't be able to afford to pay bills if they win
I returned home from UK after attending my dad's funeral to be inundated with emails adding if this debt.
It had been a really stressful time anyway but this nearly pushed me over the edge.
Wife and I incurred 2 debts each for working at the same 2 companies at the same time, for the same amount of pay.
Wife has never worked due to disability.
I apparently earned $1300 per week for 6 months at a stainless steel factory. Same with my wife.
Was on AusStudy, had baby No.5, got postnatal depression, fell behind in studies and failed to tell centrelink...
Recieved debt letter and robo call, 0 support 0 care, too depressed to fight ...started paying back debt, finished paying back this year. The end.
I found out I had a debt straight from the debt collector.
At first I thought it was a scam but then found out I had been getting letters from Centrelink to my very old address.
Original debt was $5,000 — I became physically sick for a few days, later my psychiatrist had to increase my antidepressants, which was triggered by this one letter.
As a single parent of 3, it’s hard enough to survive from fortnight to fortnight in a low paying industry, let alone receiving a massive debt from Centrelink that dates back to 2011.
I have suffered depression and anxiety since I was 18 yrs old, I am now 49 and the added pressure of this debt is slowly killing me.
I already suffer from depression and anxiety, and am on medication for both, but today I was told by the Commonwealth ombudsmen that there is nothing they can do, despite admitting that it was clearly a structural issue.
In 2017 I got a letter saying I was overpayed Newstart allowance from 2 years prior to this, and that I needed to provide additional information to the debt recovery team.
I had an aortic dissection and anneyurism almost 14 years ago, I was advised I would never be able to work again by surgeons and my GP.
After a few years I did some adult study as I wanted to do something to contribute to society.
When I received the letter from Centrelink 2017, I was asked to report my income for 2011-2012.
I did exactly that and their system informed me that because what I had reported did not match their ATO data I had to call Centrelink many times and the response i got was blaming the ATO that to discuss. Their beating behind the bush.
I received a $1000 student start up loan and youth allowance payment during 3 months of 2016 while I was at university.
I received this when I was as I was saving up for a trip overseas, and working 55 hours per week.
I can't describe how stressful this was when I thought I'd no longer afford my dream trip.
Since I was informed about this they have taken my tax returns as well as fortnightly payments; it has caused my family to fall into financial hardship and I can no longer afford to pay the bills.