I initially got the debt at $9100 and when I called, admittedly a little hysterical, I was told that I lied to Centrelink about how much I earned in the 2016/17 financial year.
I remember clearly spending hours on the phone to Centrelink when my wage went up (I went up one day to working 4 days per week).
I had my debt dropped down to $3200 after an investigation that took quite a while - after I had to provide bank statements, payslips etc). When I questioned the processes that Centrelink and the taxation department are supposedly meant to do each financial year at tax time, I was abruptly told that I didn't know how it worked and that I was wrong or had been given the wrong information. The problem is, depending on who you speak with, each answer is different. It was my understanding that at tax time, Centrelink and the ATO cross reference income information to then come up with the final return/debt figure. That financial year (2016/17) I received no return, but owed $1550 due to 'over-payment'.
Dealing with Centrelink as a whole gives me such anxiety that I often check my account just to see if I am getting the same amount as the previous fortnight, or if I am subject to another financial whim. I am a single parent on a low income. Child support is often hit and miss, so I am often right on the limit of my income. Adding unnecessary debt onto an already stringent budget is incredibly stressful.
I did my tax return this year and was shocked to learn that, without my permission, what I would have been owed in tax went to pay off my dodgy debt.I had that money earmarked to pay off my son's camp fee and school levies. I have now had the humiliation of grovelling to the school for another extension. This whole situation really makes me angry and sad. I am one of the lucky ones in that I work, am without disability, and have no language barrier to contend with. I can't begin to imagine what it's like for others.