The Australian Government has yet another embarrassing technology failure on its hands, thanks to a poorly designed and implemented IT system.
In the News
The Coalition government is going to target more than 3 million of elderly and disabled Australians with its controversial Centrelink "robo-debt" campaign, Parliamentary documents show.
The mid-year economic forecast tables published last week shows the government has booked savings of $1.1 billion from data-matching the aged pension and another $400 million from the disability support pension.
Tasmanian Liberals say they recognise the angst being caused by the Centrelink debt recovery saga, amid calls for more compassion.
Two Labor MPs have slammed the Turnbull Government over the Centrelink debt saga, and have repeated calls for the government’s cash claw-back to be put on hold until the matter has been cleared up.
Cornered. The federal government has cornered our most vulnerable people.
The cascade of harm from the Centrelink automated debt notifications debacle now includes providing too little legal help for those who need it most. And the little offered them now will disappear in July.
The Federal Government will introduce changes to Centrelink's controversial debt recovery program, despite insisting it is working and dismissing calls for its suspension.
The ACT Council of Social Service has written to Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja seeking his support to suspend the program while issues are resolved.
ACTCOSS director Susan Helyar spoke with ABC Radio Canberra breakfast host Dan Bourchier about the debt recovery system and what changes they would like to see.
An Australian of the Year finalist has also become embroiled in the Centrelink debt recovery debacle, after being sent an incorrect debt notice due to the automatic debt recovery system.
Queensland medical researcher Dr Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily and lives off the age pension, was sent a debt notice for $7600, The Guardian reports.
The latest reports comes as a new poll shows the Turnbull Government’s popularity has taken a hit in the wake of problems with the Centrelink debt recovery system and MPs’ entitlements.
A Centrelink claimant says the agency told him it cannot remove his bogus debt from his online account, even though it has agreed he owes nothing.
Simon Rivers*, from Sydney, was unemployed for just two months in 2011-12, and is one of many hit with an inaccurate notice saying he was overpaid in benefits.
Centrelink staff have spoken privately about being encouraged to work overtime to meet debt notice quotas, Denison independent MHR Andrew Wilkie has claimed.
Centrelink public servants who ask too many questions about their agency's controversial "robo-debt" recovery effort are being "managed" out of debt recovery units, according to independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent also alleges public servants are being played against each other by managers, competing for the highest daily quota of debt notices.
Human Services minister Alan Tudge has ordered the department to make some minor changes to improve the process.
Medical researcher Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily, struggling to contact anyone at Centrelink after she was incorrectly told she owes $7,600
The story of Ian and Jane, from Adelaide, highlights more of the difficulties faced by people caught up in Centrelink's so-called "robo debt" program. Automated data-matching software links up Centrelink records with information from other government agencies like the Australian Taxation Office, and if discrepancies between data is detected -- which can range from full-on fraud and incorrect income reporting, to record-keeping errors where the different agencies refer to the same business by two different names -- the Centrelink recipient is asked to provide more information. In many cases, this leads to a large debt being levelled against the client for overpayment by Centrelink, which the client is told to pay back within mere weeks.
Centrelink clients in North East Victoria have been urged to seek independent advice if they have received a ‘debt notice’ and are concerned about what to do next.
As impossible as it sounds, the Centrelink debt fiasco has spiralled even further out of control.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who has been calling on the government to halt the automatic debt recovery system, today published evidence from Centrelink whistleblowers documenting damning flaws in the debt recovery process.
The government has been accused of “backflipping” over Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program after it decided to give the system a facelift, as Labor demands improvements be made retrospective to include all affected welfare recipients.
Labor frontbencher Linda Burney declared Human Services Minister Alan Tudge had made a “stunning admission” after The Australian revealed he had directed his department to introduce a number of “refinements” as he attempts to deal with the political fallout.
Meg Webb, Manager of Anglicare's Social Action & Research Centre shares with Brian Carlton how the clawback has affected those using Anglicare's services. "If we're hearing [stories] through the people involved in our services, there's going to be many, many more out there in the broader community, who are also impacted by this debacle and may not have places to turn for help and support," Ms. Webb says.
What is it about us, what kind of bongo juice are we on when we fall for some schmaltzy rubbish suggesting that everyone should be allowed to keep overpayments?
This whole debate is a Groundhog Day for me. I once had the welfare portfolio and there were inevitably occasions when people had overpayments and were expected to repay them. There was always the possibility to pay back over time, but many took umbrage at having to pay anything at all. Many in the media, and just about everyone in opposition, played it for all it was worth. The department, Centrelink and the government were always portrayed as mean and nasty people who just wanted to give welfare recipients the boot.
Many people living with disabilities rely on social security payments from Centrelink. A large number of these people have been hit with debts as part of the ongoing Centrelink debt debacle. We spoke with Dean Price from People With Disability Australia about the impact this has had.