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‘The man in the box’: Inaccurate Centrelink debt letter sent James into meltdown

9 January 2017
Emma Reynolds

The 47-year-old Tasmanian has schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) so severe he sometimes struggles to even walk down the street.

He manages to hold down a supported work placement cleaning and gardening, but also relies on his disability pension.

So when Centrelink told him just before Christmas he owed $7000, plus $600 in interest and fees, he went into meltdown.

“He’s stuck,” ex-partner Tamara Lawson, with whom he has a 14-year-old daughter, told news.com.au. “If he sets a good routine he can do pretty well but anything outside of his routine sends him into chaos.

“He was told a debt for several thousand dollars has been raised for the period of July 2014 to July 2016. He and I both know that he reported all of his earnings within this period.