During the period in question, I worked for 2 different employers, one of whom has since gone into liquidation. Obtaining payslips was a struggle, particularly over the Xmas/New Year period during which my information was deemed due. After extending the due date twice, I finally managed to submit my employment income via the online compliance section, & was awaiting my requested FOI information & to hear back about a pre-emptively lodged request for a review which I made during the holiday period.
I spoke to a compliance officer soon thereafter, who went through the information I'd submitted, before informing me a debt was indeed due. She mentioned there was a debt, which I'd repaid, which was visible around the period being queried, however, which would be taken into account & subtracted from the amount owing, & that I'd receive a debt notice somewhere in the vicinity of $300-350. Upon receipt of the debt notice, however, the figure was far higher, as you can see. In fact, the figure is only slightly more than the amount I repaid back then, from what I can gather, now I have my FOI information in my possession.
I've since lodged another application for review, & have this week contacted Centrelink to place a 3-month hold on any debt repayments pending said review's completion after they attempted to begin taking repayments from my DSP (at a rate of $93 for the first fortnight!). I am in the process of investigating the situation further with the generous assistance of NotMyDebt volunteers & my partner.
The whole debacle has been a source of unnecessary stress & exhaustion, which has impacted severely on my mental health, & caused exacerbation of my pre-existing medical condition - Borderline Personality Disorder - which is the reason I was recently granted DSP. The application for this payment, co-incidentally, was lodged just 1 day before I was initially contacted regarding the possible discrepancy in my reported income for the period in question, something which seems extremely coincidental, although I've been reassured by DHS staff this was not what precipitated my compliance letter's generation. The mental repercussions from this issue alone have been damaging enough, without taking into account other issues being dealt with at the same time, concerning health, housing & financial problems which are unrelated to my dealings with Centrelink. I know I'm not alone in admitting suicidal ideation has been the result of the increased stress levels caused in relation to this issue.
Disappointed, devalued & ignored, largely.
I've been welfare-dependent in some way for much of my adult life as a result of my medical condition, thus my interactions with various government departments have been frequent & extensive in nature, something which has caused frequent feelings of guilt & shame at my inability to maintain self-sufficiency, a mindset which I've developed due to the attitudes displayed by government, media & society regarding those reliant on welfare.
The internalisation of this stigma is all-pervasive & impossible to ignore, & the current climate of increased surveillance & scrutiny of those in my position has done nothing to raise morale & aspire faith in a system meant to assist those in need, but instead acting as yet another debilitating factor & making continued survival a difficult prospect.
I hope the current senate enquiry is sufficient to bring about some change, & result in at least some human decency in the treatment of those who are genuinely in need of assistance.