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Infographic: the truth behind Centrelink’s waiting times

21 March 2017
The Conversation

Senior staff from the Department of Human Services told Senate estimates on March 2 that the average wait time to speak to a Centrelink operator is 14 minutes and 10 seconds.
But with reports of some people waiting more than an hour, 28 million busy signals so far this year, and welfare recipients being encouraged to go online rather than speak to someone, this doesn’t match with most people’s experiences of calling Centrelink.
This is because what’s not included in the reported wait time is probably more important than what is.

Tasmanian pensioners fear they’ll fall victim to Centrelink mistakes

18 March 2017
Courier Mail

Tasmanian pension recipients fear they will be caught up in Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery process.
More than 58 per cent of respondents to the Sunday Tasmanian’s survey of pensioners say they hold concerns about the automated system, which has been criticised for targeting individuals inaccurately.
Only 15 per cent said they had no concerns, while 36 per cent described themselves as very concerned.

Government using commission only private debt collectors for automated debt recovery program

9 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

The Senate inquiry into the Centrelink debt recovery process has revealed that the Government is paying private debt collectors commission only to rake back potentially incorrect automated debts from former Centrelink recipients.

Centrelink robo-debt program creating a 'climate of fear'

9 March 2017
Sydney Morning Herald

The Australian Taxation Office says the "robo-debt" debacle is not its fault and it is unhappy being publicly linked with Centrelink's controversial debt-recovery program.
Senior ATO officials told a Senate committee investigating robodebt on Wednesday that the ATO simply handed its data on taxpayers over to Centrelink's parent department, Human Services, which then used an automated system to raise debts.

Centrelink debt collection 'aggressive' debt collection tactics under fire in Senate inquiry

8 March 2017
News.com.au

Almost 85,000 welfare recipients were forced to repay Centrelink debts in the two months leading up to Christmas, new figures show.
Department of Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell defended the need to call in debts over the Christmas period during a senate inquiry into the Centrelink “robo-debt” recovery scheme today.
Ms Campbell also blamed the level of media scrutiny on the scheme in January for escalating public concern and the amount of calls to Centrelink.
Department officials were also asked to address reports that a Centrelink recipient took their own life due to their concern about the debt they owed.

DHS trawling social media to find Centrelink complaints only to intimidate recipients is huge concern: Greens

3 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

“It is deeply concerning that DHS staff have been trawling through social media to find people complaining about Centrelink to provide to the Minister”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

28 million busy signals hit in the first seven months of this financial year for those trying to reach Centrelink

3 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

“28 million calls hitting a busy signal in the first seven months of this financial year is astronomical and could reflect people trying to get through to fix an incorrect debt”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

How To Get Alan Tudge To Notice You Without Even Really Trying (Criticize Centrelink, He’ll Pull Your File)

3 March 2017
New Matilda

Estimates can often be boring, as senators plough their way through the progress of this or that infrastructure program or service delivery roll-out. But every so often, it produces gripping scenes.
That was the case yesterday in the Senate’s Community Affairs committee, where the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Kathryn Campbell, was called upon to give evidence.

How To Get Alan Tudge To Notice You Without Even Really Trying (Criticize Centrelink, He’ll Pull Your File)

3 March 2017
New Matilda

Estimates can often be boring, as senators plough their way through the progress of this or that infrastructure program or service delivery roll-out. But every so often, it produces gripping scenes.
That was the case yesterday in the Senate’s Community Affairs committee, where the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Kathryn Campbell, was called upon to give evidence.

Greens seek advice from Senate Clerk about potential witnesses feeling intimidated in the lead up to the senate Centrelink inquiry

3 March 2017
Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is today urging Centrelink recipients to make submissions to the Senate inquiry and not to be deterred by the Government's current behaviour in releasing personal information, explaining that giving evidence to a Senate committee is covered by Parliamentary Privilege.

Digital Transformation Office 'locked out' of robo-debt debacle: Paul Shetler

3 March 2017
Canberra Times

The Prime Minister's Digital Transformation Office was "locked out" of helping with Centrelink's robo-debt, the former head of the agency says.
Paul Shetler, who was handpicked by Mr Turnbull to lead the government's technological revolution, says he and his colleagues first heard about the automatically generated debt program in the media.

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