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“False Centrelink debt demands are criminal”

29 January 2017
The Anti-Poverty Network SA, Women in Poverty

The Anti-Poverty Network (APN-SA), in conjunction with Women in Poverty (WIP), is holding a protest rally on Tuesday 31st January 2017 to demand the Turnbull government suspend the “Robo-Debt” Centrelink system that is issuing hundreds of thousands of debt notices, many of which have been proven false, to current and previous welfare recipients.

$76m welfare ‘overpayment’ will not be pursued, Department of Human Services says

20 October 2016

The government has written off $76 million in welfare overpayments, declaring it would cost more to chase the debt than to waive it.
The Department of Human Services overpaid 1.5 million people a total of $1.5 billion, an average of $1000 each, during 2015-16. It clawed back $920 million by deducting money owed from ongoing social security payments or tax refunds.

Dole-bludgers, leaners and other neoliberal fantasies

19 January 2017

Centrelink is in the news again after an automated debt recovery system with an overly simplistic data-matching algorithm effectively made up debts for some welfare recipients. This follows the gaffe in September 2016 when members of the Federal Government argued that welfare recipients who turn down paying work shouldn’t be eligible for government assistance. In a disappointing but entirely expected move, the government declined to fix the ‘debt-recovery’ system, in a continuation of their campaign to undermine welfare through continual cuts to unemployment spending.
These cuts are usually defended by the cultural construction of the ‘bludger’: a largely mythological figure who prefers a life on welfare over working and who needs to be discouraged from their idleness by the formulation of harsh laws surrounding the eligibility of Centrelink recipients, already struggling, in financial and emotional distress, far below the poverty line.

Centrelink debt debacle is bad policy for mental health

24 January 2017
The Conversation

The debt recovery system could hardly have been better designed to create conditions that cause chronic stress.
Its approach has potentially serious consequences. UK research shows when government policies placed new and onerous demands on people receiving welfare payments this led to an increase in mental health problems, and in suicides.
If this debt recovery program continues, it is quite possible we may see similar, adverse effects on people’s health in Australia. As such, the government should suspend the program and rethink its approach.

It's time to target the top end of town and the obscene profits of the super-rich

17 January 2017

While apparent flaws in the Centrelink welfare crackdown have been a focus of public discussion, the controversy has rightly prompted indignation at a policy targeting members of our community who are struggling to make ends meet, while at the same time, more than one in three large corporations paid no Australian tax in the past financial year.
The debate provides a timely opportunity to look at the top end of town, where wealth is concentrated in Australia.

Man Spends 30 Hours Disputing False $5500 Centrelink Debt

16 January 2017
Huffington Post

The story of Ian and Jane, from Adelaide, highlights more of the difficulties faced by people caught up in Centrelink's so-called "robo debt" program. Automated data-matching software links up Centrelink records with information from other government agencies like the Australian Taxation Office, and if discrepancies between data is detected -- which can range from full-on fraud and incorrect income reporting, to record-keeping errors where the different agencies refer to the same business by two different names -- the Centrelink recipient is asked to provide more information. In many cases, this leads to a large debt being levelled against the client for overpayment by Centrelink, which the client is told to pay back within mere weeks.


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