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Centrelink demands $2k from Moonah teacher from parenting allowance overpayment

4 January 2017
Herald Sun

Teacher Christine Bingham says she has received a demand from Centrelink for $2316 in relation to an alleged overpayment of parenting allowance in 2011.
She is one of hundreds of people who Denison MP Andrew Wilkie says has complained to his office about Centrelink’s new debt recovery system based on data matching with the Australian Taxation Office.

Former Official Says Govt Would Have Known Centrelink Shitstorm Was Coming

4 January 2017
pedestrian TV

As the Centrelink kerfuffle continues, criticism from the Opposition mounts and the Government continues to maintain that the system is functioning as expected, a former high-ranking department official has told The Guardian that management would have known the risks before they rolled out the automated debt recovery system.

Centrelink automated debt recovery process challenged

4 January 2017
The Age

Linda Burney, opposition human services spokeswoman, said the controversy over Centrelink's new automated debt recovery system had been going on for months.

"The concern about the program expressed by people to my and my colleagues' offices has been huge," she said. "I think there is a very clear case to suspend the automated data matching process until these issues are resolved. It isn't only unfair and cruel, it's poor public policy."

Centrelink to push customer aggression training despite debt recovery controversy

4 January 2017
International Business Times

Staff of Beleaguered Centrelink will undergo Advanced Customer Aggression Training soon amid public backlash that the government agency is facing due to its contentious debt recovery regime.

In a contract tender that was made public before Christmas, the Department of Human Services said it was "seeking providers suitably qualified to deliver a high quality of Advanced Customer Aggression Training Services to the Department's Customer Facing Staff, Team Leaders and Managers."

Centrelink defends debt recovery scheme after Andrew Wilkie criticism

4 January 2017
ABC News

The Department of Human Services has defended its controversial new debt recovery system, which has been blamed for frightening welfare recipients over the Christmas period.
"I really am surprised that people are seriously suggesting that when we are obliged under the law to recover outstanding debt when it is identified, that we are being asked to stop doing this," Mr Jongen said. "The number of complaints we have received is a little over 200. I think you need to keep all of this in context."

Billionaires get more leeway than vulnerable citizens. It’s obscene

4 January 2017

As anyone who has ever tried to describe it knows, the Australian welfare system is exceedingly complex. Indeed, over the past three decades there have been repeated attempts to build computerised “expert systems” to help Centrelink staff get a clear understanding of exactly who is eligible for what. All attempts have failed. Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted on the futile effort to clearly define eligibility.
But the impossibility of accurately defining eligibility has not stopped the Turnbull government from using crude data matching to justify sending intimidating letters to large numbers of Australians, an estimated 20% of which are in error.

Flawed Centrelink debt recovery system 'bringing some to the brink of suicide': Andrew Wilkie

4 January 2017
The Age

Centrelink's contentious debt recovery system is making some of the targeted people feel suicidal, independent MP Andrew Wilkie has claimed, as the furore over the clawback persists despite the government's insistence it is working exceptionally well.
The Tasmanian MP said the Commonwealth Ombudsman had agreed to his request to look into the matter.

Calls for Centrelink debt bungle probe: claims welfare recipients are being wrongly hounded

4 January 2017
Daily Telegraph

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has been asked to investigate faults with Centrelink’s new automated data matching system that has resulted in welfare recipients being wrongly hounded to pay debts.
“I’ve had four people now approach me ... who I would describe as presenting as suicidal,” [Independent MP Andrew Wilkie] told reporters in Hobart.

Centrelink debt is terrifying people: MP

4 January 2017
Australian Associated Press

Centrelink debt notices are pushing some welfare recipients to the brink of suicide, an independent MP has warned.
Andrew Wilkie has asked the Commonwealth Ombudsman to investigate faults with Centrelink's new automated data matching system that has resulted in some welfare recipients being wrongly hounded to pay debts.
The ombudsman's office told AAP it was seeking further information from Centrelink but would not comment further.

Centrelink debt nightmare continues

4 January 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, again called on the Government to put a halt to Centrelink’s flawed debt recovery process.
“I’ve now received over a hundred complaints from all around the country from people who have recounted deeply disturbing stories about Centrelink’s new debt recovery process,” Mr Wilkie said. “The Government has terrified countless people, ruined the Christmases of many and even driven some people to contemplate taking their own lives.