Centrelink has admitted its review system to dispute debts is too slow to save people from false debts, taking an average of 49 days to resolve despite debts being due within 28 days.
The welfare agency's controversial automated debt recovery data-matching system has come under fire for months, with countless claims from clients that debts levelled are too high or just plain false. However, as we've reported, clients are still being told to pay their debts -- which can be in the many thousands of dollars -- even if they know them to be false to avoid extra debt recovery fees to be added to their bill.
Centrelink clients can ask for their debt to be reviewed as part of an internal dispute process, but that is unlikely to give them any immediate relief as the debt recovery process is not paused (with some exceptions) while the review is conducted. Debts are due within 28 days of the debt notice being received, and anecdotal reports have previously stated the dispute process can take up to six weeks.
Now, in response to questions from The Huffington Post Australia, the Department of Human Services admitted Centrelink's dispute process takes a full three weeks longer than the time limit to pay back that debt.
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