A Ballarat woman has been forced to hunt down five-year-old payslips over Christmas while caring for an elderly relative in order to challenge thousands of dollars she allegedly owed to Centrelink.
Ballarat MP Catherine King’s office has seen a spike in complaints in the lead up to Christmas after the government agency mobilised an automated debt recovery system, which its own employees have said is unable to take into account intermittent or casual work.
Ms King said the woman, who was among several to contact her office over the Christmas break, had to chase down 36 payslips from an employer who was now defunct.
“I’ve had people who have been caring for elderly relatives over the summer and that can be difficult in and of itself and then having to navigate a system which is completely un-user friendly, unclear about when debt collectors are going to turn up at their door,” she said.
“It’s put incredible stress on people over a fairly stressful time plus it is increasingly clear it is hitting people who have been casual workers.”