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 am a single mother of a toddler with no family support trying to finish my university degree so that I am able to find better employment to keep us financially secure. I only just received enough money to cover my rent and get a small amount of food for the two of us. Or pay rent and bills.
I was issued with this debt after arriving to my parents for Christmas holidays. I was embarking on a 6wk holiday. I was still keeping up with the costs of my living while I was away - rent, power bills etc. I also had Christmas to deal with. Prior to my holiday, my bank accounts were hacked and majority of my money was stolen.
I have appealed part of debt as I somehow remembered having to report my income every fortnight while caring for my mother. I shortened my contract to fit in with their rules of allowing a respite time from a carer's payment. The other half of my debt, $2000.00 I do not remember so well and have paid them over $2000.00 !!
Now trying to get a detailed breakdown of income from 3 employers from 6 years ago as my fortnightly payslips do not align with Centrelink's pay cycle. It's probably impossible but I have to try. $1300 is not small change to me.
Anxiety, stress, already suffering from depression, financial stress, very upsetting not being heard or listened to.
I've had a lot of anxiety over this...mostly because I don't understand why I owe so much! I would like to appeal, but unsure if I would be right or not. I'm just grateful that I'm in full-time employment, I can't imagine what those still receiving benefits must be going through.
Of course finding out only weeks before our second child came into the world that we owe 6200 between us was stressful at the least. With a home loan/rates coming and a list of things we needed, after my partner had taken months off work. Surely was a big hit, I've set to pay this off in 12 months ending this coming financial year.
Financilly has put me in debt they hit me just before Christmas I had great anxiety and depression because I thought I wouldn't be able to make ends meet
I was on Youth Allowance when I first moved to the city to attend university. First in my family to do so etc. I applied for Youth Allowance and started receiving while I looked for a job in a new state (and living away from a small country town for the first time). I secured employment, but initially it was casual with unpredictable hours.
Extreme stress, financial fears at time and residual anger about the process.
Very stressed and upset and worrying
After being told had debt of 2500 contacted number on letter over 1 hour on phone was told to ring another number had also complained on centrelink site and uploaded bank statements from those periods
Very stressful especially as it's impossible to talk to anybody about it. We want to sort it out and just want an explanation from a real person but keep getting told to go online and complete compliance. We have asked for a review as we have always kept our income updated with Centrelink.
Completely wasted my time while trying to focus on a hectic period at work! Debt was issued just before Christmas and I had a holiday booked departing on the 28th of December. I had to spend my time bothering old employers in their busiest time of year and spent my annual leave getting the docs together.
I'm just very annoyed. I am now in full time employment as I've completed my PhD. If an undergraduate or honour's student put together an analysis with this level of inflexibility and fundamental flaws I'd be taking a deep breath and asking them to do a more thorough job before resubmitting their work for marking.
Centerlink has sent me a letter saying that i owe them money. This came as a surprise, has caused me alot of distress. Being a low income earner i am already finding it hard to manage my week to week living. On top of this getting into contact with centerlink is probably the most stressful task.
oh my god, i am a single mum and have always worked , my family tax benifit stopped in febuary 2016 as my daughter turned 18 ,, in september 2016 i recieved a letter that my ex husband income has changed to what was taken into account over the last four years from child support ,now somehow its my debt because he did his tax returns after 4 year
It'll suck dry the last of my savings I was living off. I'm currently unemployed. I was avoiding going on payments because I had savings and was working on my depression. I was somewhat proud of not needing centrelink while I sorted my shit. I could've been on Newstart for the last six months.
I was shocked and panicked to receive a letter from Centrelink to say that I owed them $13000 in "overpayments" from when I was a student in 2011/ 2012. I had always been honest and diligent in reporting my earnings when I was on Austudy and couldn't understand how I had gotten it so wrong.
Since receiving an opaque, but threatening text message from Centrelink in October, I have experienced heighten anxiety levels. First, given my so-called debt relates to 2013, it was at first an ordeal to work out exactly what Centrelink thought I had done wrong.
Anxiety levels through the roof, i have never in my life had such debt, a credit card max was 4 grand, a car debt of 5 grand.. so im not a luxury kinda person.. the government is asking me for 16 grand.. like..
i am in tears.
Receiving 3 letters advising of not having challenged a potential debt (and not receiving any letters asking for information) on my birthday was unpleasant. After phoning, trying online and going in to an office it almost seems easier to pay it. But I worked for one employer for 1 day in 2012 and received $90.
I received this debt notice a month before signing for my first mortgage. To suggest that debt collectors would be chasing me for this money right before signing could have had disastrous long term ramifications for me.
Extremely stressed, financial disaster
The debt was raised due to a redundancy payment that was quite stressful. They basically made me relive to whole scenario and achieved the impossible of making it more stressful. I had payments deducted over the christmas period and was forced to borrow money from family and friends