If you are affected by Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program and do not know how to respond, or believe a debt has been wrongly raised, there are number of things you can do.
Centrelink is unable to track how many cases of overpayment are caused by government error, according to responses it provided to a senate committee.
The Department of Human Services provided a series of responses to questions posed by the Greens senator Rachel Siewert on welfare overpayments.
An increase in debt notices from Centrelink to welfare recipients has been causing waves. The increase has been brought about by data-matching technology, which sees Centrelink data checked against details held by the Australian Taxation Office.
I became aware that Centrelink were trying to pin a cooked-up “robo-debt” of $5558 on me through a text message from the aptly named Probe group debt collection agency.
There resources about how to dispute a Centrelink debt letter, including GetUp! which has a page that sends a bunch of letters to key places in one go.
But given the large and growing number affected by this $4.5 billion heist, I thought I would share my experience of disputing the debt in 10 not exactly easy steps.
Centrelink says concerns reportedly emanating from some of its staff — via their union and a left-leaning activist group — are the result of misunderstanding the complexity of the welfare system and personal disagreements with policy and technological change.
In response to the most serious allegations since the “#notmydebt” campaign began to push back against the agency’s letters asking people to clarify differences between information about past welfare payments and tax data, spokesperson Hank Jongen implies that some employees either don’t understand or don’t agree with how the system works.
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.
The Department of Human Services has rejected speculation that Centrelink’s automated systems generate incorrect assessments of past income and welfare entitlements in 90% of cases, as further serious claims emerge from the agency’s staff.
The new statement is naively headlined “Let’s talk about facts” — ignoring the important context that it’s hard for anyone to know what to believe out of the mix of anonymous claims from staff, the union’s ongoing campaign regarding working conditions and staffing levels at DHS, the online #notmydebt campaign, flat-out denials and semantic arguments from the department, and of course opinions in the media.
The CPSU has today launched an open letter to Centrelink customers on behalf of Centrelink staff as controversy continues to rage around the Centrelink automated debt crisis.
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.
A handful of protesters have parked themselves in front of Liberal MP Alan Tudge's office, protesting the Centrelink #notmydebt saga with an abundance of chants and issuing his office with a "debt notice" of $300 million.
The group played mock Centrelink hold music, and chanted "Hey Tudge, we won't budge" before being moved on by police at 2:35pm.