Centrelink's #NotMyDebt debacle has dominated the news cycle in 2017, with thousands of clients left extremely frustrated by demands to repay disputed debts after a breakdown in the service chain.
Before January 1, Centrelink debts expired if the agency ignored them for six years. Now it can pursue them at any time like the Tax Office, but within the agency there is confusion about the implications.
There’s apparently a view in the agency that now there is nothing stopping the automated compliance program from going back through tax and welfare records “indefinitely” to find new debts to raise.
Groups protested in both Tudge's electoral office in Wantirna South and Redfern today, where Rebecca Harrison took out her letter and lit that mutha up.
The Government giving a ‘facelift’ to the broken automated debt recovery system is just an attempt to quell political backlash and should be viewed as such, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
While apparent flaws in the Centrelink welfare crackdown have been a focus of public discussion, the controversy has rightly prompted indignation at a policy targeting members of our community who are struggling to make ends meet, while at the same time, more than one in three large corporations paid no Australian tax in the past financial year.
The debate provides a timely opportunity to look at the top end of town, where wealth is concentrated in Australia.
A screenshot from Lifeline’s database leaked to BuzzFeed News shows the organisation has created a new category in its database for counsellors speaking with clients about “Centrelink Automatic Debt Recovery”.
In a statement today, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “This error-riddled Auto-Debt Recovery Program must be stopped without further delay. The tweaks announced by the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge do not address the fundamental problems and serious concerns expressed by us and a broad range of stakeholders.
Council on the Ageing to seek assurances older Australians won’t be unfairfly targeted by plan to use system to shave $1bn from aged pension budget.
Without some idea of how often the data matching process is going wrong, we can’t have any confidence that any of the letters are right.
Reports today reveal that the Turnbull Government’s attack on pensioners and people with disability is set to extend to the Centrelink debt recovery debacle.
Around 3 million pensioners and people with disability are in the sights of the Turnbull Government’s error riddled debt recovery program.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman is wasting no time in starting its investigation into the Federal Government's welfare debt claw-back scheme, scheduling meetings around the country this week to quiz welfare groups about the impact of the controversial project.
The Ombudsman's office said it would be holding roundtable discussions with "stakeholders" as part of the investigation it launched earlier this month.
The Australian Government has yet another embarrassing technology failure on its hands, thanks to a poorly designed and implemented IT system.
The Coalition government is going to target more than 3 million of elderly and disabled Australians with its controversial Centrelink "robo-debt" campaign, Parliamentary documents show.
The mid-year economic forecast tables published last week shows the government has booked savings of $1.1 billion from data-matching the aged pension and another $400 million from the disability support pension.
Tasmanian Liberals say they recognise the angst being caused by the Centrelink debt recovery saga, amid calls for more compassion.
Two Labor MPs have slammed the Turnbull Government over the Centrelink debt saga, and have repeated calls for the government’s cash claw-back to be put on hold until the matter has been cleared up.
Commentary on the department’s online compliance system continues to incorrectly say 20 per cent of letters are being issued in error. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the process.
Initial notices request information to explain differences in earned income between the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink records. These result in a debt in 80 per cent of cases. The remaining 20 per cent are instances where people have explained the difference and don’t owe any money following assessment of this updated information.
This is how the system is designed to work, in line with the legal requirements of welfare recipients to report all changes in circumstances and the department’s obligation to protect government outlays.
Cornered. The federal government has cornered our most vulnerable people.
The cascade of harm from the Centrelink automated debt notifications debacle now includes providing too little legal help for those who need it most. And the little offered them now will disappear in July.
The Federal Government will introduce changes to Centrelink's controversial debt recovery program, despite insisting it is working and dismissing calls for its suspension.
The ACT Council of Social Service has written to Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja seeking his support to suspend the program while issues are resolved.
ACTCOSS director Susan Helyar spoke with ABC Radio Canberra breakfast host Dan Bourchier about the debt recovery system and what changes they would like to see.
An Australian of the Year finalist has also become embroiled in the Centrelink debt recovery debacle, after being sent an incorrect debt notice due to the automatic debt recovery system.
Queensland medical researcher Dr Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily and lives off the age pension, was sent a debt notice for $7600, The Guardian reports.
The latest reports comes as a new poll shows the Turnbull Government’s popularity has taken a hit in the wake of problems with the Centrelink debt recovery system and MPs’ entitlements.
A Centrelink claimant says the agency told him it cannot remove his bogus debt from his online account, even though it has agreed he owes nothing.
Simon Rivers*, from Sydney, was unemployed for just two months in 2011-12, and is one of many hit with an inaccurate notice saying he was overpaid in benefits.
Centrelink staff have spoken privately about being encouraged to work overtime to meet debt notice quotas, Denison independent MHR Andrew Wilkie has claimed.
Centrelink public servants who ask too many questions about their agency's controversial "robo-debt" recovery effort are being "managed" out of debt recovery units, according to independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent also alleges public servants are being played against each other by managers, competing for the highest daily quota of debt notices.
Centrelink’s automated debt recovery system and its policies of coercion and confusion are causing significant distress to many disadvantaged Australians, the Vice-President of the Australian Association of Social Workers, Christine Craik, said today.
“People look to their government for support, not intimidation,” Ms Craik said.
This *draft* policy paper has been developed based on stories and experiences from QCOSS members as well as work done with the state, territory and national Councils of Social Service.
When finalised it will form the basis for QCOSS' advocacy on the issue.