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Response to claims about the department’s use of external collection agents

22 February 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Claims made recently about the Department of Human Services’ use of external collection agents are inaccurate and require clarification.
Agencies who have been engaged by the department to recover debt from people will always ensure their operators clearly identify themselves as calling ‘on behalf of’ the department.

Joel Fitzgobbon: Centrelink crisis a hearltess act.

15 February 2017
Hunter Valley News

Centrelink's inability to adequately service its clients has reached crisis point. You can only squeeze so much from the lemon and funding and resourcing cuts should have stopped long ago.
[...]
The situation has been made worse thanks to the Turnbull Government's terrible debt recovery program. It's chewing up so many of Centrelink's limited resources and leaving people sick with worry over letters informing them that they owe large amounts of money.

National Social Security Rights Network recommendations: Centrelink online compliance and debt system

13 January 2017
National Social Security Rights Network

The National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN, formerly National Welfare Rights Network) and its member services are struggling to respond to the number of calls from people distressed about Centrelink’s new online compliance system and being informed they have debts they think are wrong.

Robo-debt: government plain wrong and misleading, says Andrew Wilkie

13 February 2017
Wellington Times

The Coalition government has misled the Australian people about its conduct of the Centrelink "robo-debt" debacle, according to MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent delivered a scathing blast to the Turnbull government in Parliament on Monday morning, accusing it of being "incompetent, cruel and uncaring" over the "terrible terrible episode".

Centrelink robo-debt scheme an 'absolute atrocity' but class action not on cards

8 February 2017
SMH

The odds of a joint action against the federal government's Centrelink debt recovery program have narrowed, with lawyers saying it's considered highly unlikely such an action would succeed.
However, Slater and Gordon – and perhaps some of Australia's other leading class action law firms – are investigating Centrelink's handling of the scheme, and have not ruled out challenging the legality of its conduct under Commonwealth laws.

The Centrelink summer

6 January 2017
The Monthly

When not just the Courier-Mail, but also other News Limited publications and A Current Affair are criticising the government for being too harsh on social security recipients, perhaps it’s time the government acknowledged how dangerous this Centrelink issue has become, and responded.
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The onus is on citizens to disprove the debt at short notice, over summer holidays, using materials such as pay slips and doctor’s certificates they were never previously asked to keep. Often it’s material they’d submitted to Centrelink previously. The system by which people must register their objections and responses is completely overloaded, with phone lines jammed and IT systems groaning or simply incapable of coping with the task at hand.

How to fight a Centrelink robo-debt in 10 (not so easy) steps

27 January 2017
Green Left Weekly

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.

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