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Aboriginal woman with disability gets $30,000 debt

Debt amount: 
$30000
Date debt issued: 
Friday, 1 March 2019
Period debt occurred: 
August 2014 to January 2016
Has your case been referred to a collection agency?: 
No
Payment Type: 
Disability Support Pension
Appealing Debt?: 
Yes in process
Tell us about your debt and how has this affected you? e.g. anxiety levels, financial and accommodation stress: 

I have been given a robodebt of about $30,000. I was actually in between jobs and signed up for Newstart for 2-3 weeks a few months ago and I received the notice almost straightaway. I actually remember the rules at the time when I was on the disability support pension. We could receive a full pension and work 2 days per week. I never expected to get a debt like this 5 years later. Back then I believe there was no income limit like there is now.

Centrelink haven't told me how they calculated the debt so I don't know how they arrived at this figure. I'm scared to appeal in case they charge me with fraud or something which would completely ruin my future. They won't accept repayments of less than $200 per fortnight. I already have two credit cards and a personal loan. With this kind of debt I will never own my own house. Just no way. I'm scared, terrified, and suicidal.

How do you feel about the way the Government has handled this process?: 

I believe the Government is intentionally terrorising people on low income to balance the budget. I think the whole program should be scrapped and people in charge of this terrible initiative removed. It's arbitrary and unfair to change the rules and start giving people debts from such a long time ago. There must be a way to hold people to account in fair and transparent way without ruining their lives.