If you are affected by Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program and do not know how to respond, or believe a debt has been wrongly raised, there are number of things you can do.
I became aware that Centrelink were trying to pin a cooked-up “robo-debt” of $5558 on me through a text message from the aptly named Probe group debt collection agency.
There resources about how to dispute a Centrelink debt letter, including GetUp! which has a page that sends a bunch of letters to key places in one go.
But given the large and growing number affected by this $4.5 billion heist, I thought I would share my experience of disputing the debt in 10 not exactly easy steps.
Revelations that Centrelink will extend their data matching program to include pensioners and people with a disability sent shock waves through Queensland’s community legal centres today.
Cornered. The federal government has cornered our most vulnerable people.
The cascade of harm from the Centrelink automated debt notifications debacle now includes providing too little legal help for those who need it most. And the little offered them now will disappear in July.
Tasmania’s community service sector has rallied together to provide immediate support to Tasmanians impacted by the Centrelink debt recovery debacle.
Several community organisations have pooled funds of over $12,000 to increase resources for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in Hobart and Launceston to provide access to a dedicated Welfare Rights Officer, Monday through Friday.
Centrelink is using debt collectors like never before and making snap decisions based on “limited information” since the introduction of a new automated debt recovery system, Victoria Legal Aid has said.
Collectors have been used by the government agency before but never based on such an “inaccurate and blunt” system, Civil Justice, Access and Equity executive director Dan Nicholson said.
Some Centrelink recipients that have been targeted in the department's new debt recovery endeavour are finding themselves in severe financial stress, with some looking at taking out a payday loan to get by. Speaking to the Herald Sun, Centrelink recipient Michael Bond said issues relating to debt recovery were affecting his Medicare payments. He and his family, who reside in Melbourne, are owed $500.
It would surprise the federal Coalition government — that assumes we dislike welfare recipients as much as it does — that one of its biggest problems at the start of 2017 is the Centrelink debt fiasco.
Melbourne barrister and spokesperson for Australian Lawyers Alliance Greg Barns told Daily Mail Australia in some cases Centrelink may have breached its duty of care to customers.
Graham Wells, principal lawyer at Social Security Rights Victoria, which provides legal advice and help for people battling various Centrelink complaints, says the organisation has been run off its feet in the wake of the debt-recovery saga plaguing the agency over the summer break.