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Public service bosses missing on Centrelink's robo-debt

25 January 2017
Canberra Times

Senior bosses at Centrelink are not taking responsibility for the welfare agency's "robo-debt" debacle and leaving their department's junior leaders to pick up the pieces, according to front line workers.
Centrelink staff have told their union, the CPSU, that waiting time for reviews of "debts" raised under the controversial data-matching compliance program have now blown out to 50 days when the the agency is demanding that the money is repaid in less than 28 days.

Automated Centrelink a fast track to Turnbull's demise

24 January 2017
SMH

The many leaks from appalled Centrelink staff suggest they've been discouraged from correcting obvious errors before the machine-generated demands are sent out, and discouraged from helping people in person, rather than just telling them to use the website.
It's clear this is a fishing expedition. You make what you know may often be erroneous claims for repayment, shift the onus of proof onto people with few records or resources, give them a scare, then sit back and see how much you rake in.

Centrelink debt debacle is bad policy for mental health

24 January 2017
The Conversation

The debt recovery system could hardly have been better designed to create conditions that cause chronic stress.
Its approach has potentially serious consequences. UK research shows when government policies placed new and onerous demands on people receiving welfare payments this led to an increase in mental health problems, and in suicides.
If this debt recovery program continues, it is quite possible we may see similar, adverse effects on people’s health in Australia. As such, the government should suspend the program and rethink its approach.

Nice try Hank, but DHS staff not to blame

24 January 2017
Community & Public Sector Union

Last week DHS spokesperson, Hank Jongen sought to blame staff for the community’s widespread resistance to and frustration with the online compliance system. This is massive spin, even for Hank. The irony here being that if frontline staff had had input into the design of the troubled online compliance system it wouldn’t be generating erroneous debts.

Centrelink cooking the books on violence against public servants, union says

23 January 2017
Canberra Times

Centrelink says more than 8600 reports of customer aggression towards its staff last financial year is an improvement, but its main workplace union says the welfare agency is hiding the extent of the problem.
The agency's bosses insist the workplace safety situation is improving but the union says plummeting customer service standards are driving high levels of verbal and physical aggression towards frontline Centrelink workers.

The Centrelink robo-debt debacle has only just begun

23 January 2017
Independent Australia

Knowing that the Turnbull Government isn't finished with its five-seven year WPIT plan should send a shiver down our spines.
[...]
In the 2015-16 budget, the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) program was announced as the replacement for [the Income Security Integrated System (ISIS), set up in 1983 to oversee welfare payment deliveries, customer service, support and compliance activities for Centrelink]. The 2015-16 budget measure worth $60.5m is part of a $1.5 billion, seven-year program. The program was described by the Government as one of the world’s largest social welfare ICT transformations.

Response to further claims about online compliance activity

19 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Claims made today about the Department of Human Services’ online compliance activity do not accurately represent how the system works.
General Manager Hank Jongen said the system was designed to identify differences between Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink payment records, and was performing the task as intended.
[...]
“We will continue to work with staff to explain how the system operates and the role they play.”

Centrelink systematically ripping off clients: whistleblower

19 January 2017
The Canberra Times

Centrelink is deliberately ripping-off thousands of Australians caught up in its data matching "robo-debt" program, with managers telling public servants at the agency to enforce debts they know are bogus, according to explosive new claims. 
Another whistleblower has come forward with an insider's account of how the "debts" are being pursued, alleging that glaring errors are being deliberately ignored by Centrelink to allow it to extract money from its clients.

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