Two years since I was on any Centrelink benefit I get a letter telling me that I have not responded to any correspondence around income reporting and I owe a debt of a couple of thousand dollars. Almost three years later I am still battling with the Centrelink robodebt scheme around whether or not this is actually owed. This has caused months of stress and worry over my finances and credit rating, with countless calls and visits to Centrelink offices resulting in even more frustration and disappointment. My apparent debt is owed for time I was on Youth Allowance when studying interstate, the debt period was for a 4 month period at the end of the time I was on this benefit and they are claiming that they over paid my benefit. I have gone into an office to supply my pay slips for this apparent debt period and they have increased the debt I apparently owe and to appeal it yet again, as this algorithm is entirely incorrect, they have told me I need to supply my pay slips for 2 entire financial years to reassess. This not only strikes me as unnecessary given the debt period is only 4 months, but also seems that it is attempting to trap me into providing them with more money. At this time I have also been made aware (finally) that Centrelink has swiped my tax return of over $3000 without informing me or offering any kind of payment plans. This has resulted in a huge financial strain and they are claiming that I owe them even more money.
I feel they way the Government and Centrelink services have handled this process is an absolute disgrace. This Government is ripping off the people it has promised to serve the best interests of and in so doing is making it harder for people to live day to day. The robodebt scheme is a way for the Government to steal from it's people. When I called the Centrelink debt line for clarification and "help" I was told that I should have been checking the Centrelink online account (not myGov, which I regularly check) for correspondence, even thought I have currently not been on Centrelink benefits for 3-4 years. I was told that there was nothing I could do other than provide 2 years worth of payslips outside the debt period. I believe that this scheme, in my story and others of those on Youth Allowance / Aus Study, is trying to take advantage of young people who may not be sure how the system works. I believe that if the Government is going to charge it's people thousands of dollars for debt recovery they should be doing it individually using actual people to ensure equity and equality for all people. Rather than spending money on getting others to pay undue debts, money should be spent supporting the people who are in need of it.