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I caught my son pawning his watch

Debt amount: 
$18000
Date debt issued: 
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Period debt occurred: 
June 2016 to June 2017
Payment Type: 
Youth Allowance
Appealing Debt?: 
Yes & I won
Tell us about your debt and how has this affected you? e.g. anxiety levels, financial and accommodation stress: 

In January 2017, 21 yr old son agreed in a single phone call to debt collectors to back pay $18k worth of youth allowance and Austudy. He kept this hidden from his Mother and I.
I knew something was wrong & one day found a Pawnbrokers ticket for a $300 loan against his watch.
When confronted he admitted to several other loans to payday & micro lenders like Nimble, eventually the big debt came out - Centrelink have him on a $100 per month repayment plan to pay back over $18k.
I understand he tried to point out that he received alternating payment of youth allowance or Austudy for 2 years

The Centrelink debt pushed him to the edge as he currently only earns a couple of hundred a week & felt he had no choice but to take out these short term loans. However these quickly snowballed and he lost control.

This week (June, 6 months later) he was told the debt is now $76.00, no apology or explanation. As you can imagined he is relieved and doesn't want to pursue this in case they change their mind.

How do you feel about the way the Government has handled this process?: 

- Centrelink bullied my son over the phone into agreeing to a large & incorrect debt:
- he has paid back 6 months worth of this false debt only to have it suddenly reduced to $76 with no explanation
- the large false debt drove him further into trouble!!
- the last week has been enormously stressful in our household as initially I was very angry with my son. However I am more concerned how my son has been treated and the stress he's been under for the past 6 months.
- Centrelink owe my son an apology and I believe a refund for the money he has paid back