Everyone has the right to access information held by Australian public authorities for free, including from the Department of Human Services (DHS).
You can make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which is simply a formal way to ask for documents, and they have to respond and provide the documents (unless there is a special exemption).
By law, they have to respond.
You can use an FOI request to get the detail of how DHS manages your accounts, and what information about your personal circumstances they have. This includes detailed recordings of any earnings submitted to Centrelink and the recently data-matched apportioned earnings, which in some cases differ substantially. This is asking them for your private information that they have on you.
All you need to say is which documents you’d like, and that it’s an FOI request.
You can read more about our Freedom of Information rights at the Federal Information Commissioner’s website, or at the DHS’s website.
If you’re not happy with the response you receive you can have it reviewed, for free!
You can see thousands of examples of requests for non-personal information on the Right To Know website, including requests about the DHS “data-matching“ program.
Good luck, don’t forget to share your stories on the Not My Debt website.
FOI.Legal.Team [at] Humanservices.gov.au
Dear Department of Human Services,
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents relating to me, <YOUR NAME>, that you hold.
For identity verification purposes, my CRN number is <YOUR CENTRELINK CUSTOMER REFERENCE NUMBER (CRN)>.
I would like all relevant records relating to my Centrelink debt <DEBT REFERENCE NUMBER IF YOU HAVE ONE>, where possible including but not limited to:
- previously submitted earnings
<OR: your record of earnings reports submitted by me between START DATE OF DEBT PERIOD and END DATE OF DEBT PERIOD>;
- debt schedule(s);
- debt calculations and a breakdown;
- earnings apportionate tool;
- any documents obtained from employer(s) regarding debt; and,
- any other documents relating to debt.
I request that you provide these records to this email address in their original accessible electronic form, rather than images of the documents such as scans or screenshots.