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Disability advocates hold fears for mental health, suicide

18 January 2017
The Courier

Disability advocates say expanding Centrelink’s debt recovery system to people on disability support will push clients who are already suicidal over the edge and “inundate” overstretched mental health services.
Grampians Disability Advocacy’s Fiona Tipping said she already has a caseload of people in Ballarat who are suicidal as a result of their disability support pensions being rejected or cancelled.
On Tuesday it was revealed the government plans to extend its controversial debt collection system to people on aged pensions and disability support pensions later this year.

What to do if you get a Centrelink debt recovery letter

9 January 2017
Fraser Coast Chronicle

Centrelink recipients across the region are being told to pay back false debts sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars because of a faulty computer algorithm.
The Federal Government and Centrelink have come under heavy criticism from all quarters over the automated system that has been used to match welfare recipients' reported income.
Amid all the anger the government agency began using Twitter to refer welfare recipients to crisis support hotline Lifeline as the hashtag #notmydebt began trending on the social media platform.

Those with alleged Centrelink debt are turning to payday loans

11 January 2017

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.

How Turnbull plans to raise $4.6 billion from unemployed.

11 January 2017
No Place For Sheep

The Turnbull government plans to raise a windfall of $4.6 billion over the next four years, and this is how they intend to do it.
Centrelink is averaging annual earnings over every fortnightly reporting period. This means that you are determined by them to have earned income at the same time as you received unemployment benefits. Therefore, you must pay those benefits back.

Broken Centrelink system sending false debt notices to sick

9 January 2017
Sunshine Coast Daily

Centrelink's automated system, which has ramped up since October, is now sending 20,000 review letters about supposed discrepancies each week, with scores of Australians - including people with cancer - telling news.com.au of the anxiety, stress and even suicidal thoughts prompted by the debt letters that dropped through their mailboxes just before the festive period.

Get back to work: Calls for Human Services Minister to return from holidays to clear up Centrelink debt recovery mess

5 January 2017
Perth Now

Last week, Centrelink tweeted that its offices were closed and people needing help, support or advice should call Lifeline.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge is still on holidays, leaving Social Services Minister Christian Porter to deal with the fallout.

Centrelink is referring some people distressed from its data-matching debt claims to Lifeline

6 January 2017
Business Insider Australia

Customers suffering distress and anxiety from debt notification letters sent out from Centrelink’s data-matching system are being referred to Lifeline by the federal welfare agency.
On Wednesday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie claimed that he had been in touch with people who were suicidal as a result of the allegedly false debt notices. He said that “the government has terrified countless people”.
Now social media records show that Centrelink’s official account has been advising multiple customers to get in touch with Lifeline in the midst of correspondence

Centrelink referring people to Lifeline as one person receives notice of 140k debt

6 January 2017

Centrelink has been openly referring to Lifeline people who say they have been targeted for repayments of non-existent debt under a new automated system.
NITV News has revealed that Indigenous Australians have been caught up in the growing debt claims issue. Some people attested they were receiving demands for repayments of more than $20,000, as Centrelink accused them of under reporting their income while receiving benefits.

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