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What even is a Senate Inquiry, anyway?

"the Attack of the ROBODEBT" vintage B-movie poster style




On 8 February 2017, the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report.

The result is the Senate Inquiry titled: The design, scope, cost-benefit analysis, contracts awarded and implementation associated with the Better Management of the Social Welfare System initiative.

Okay, so the Senate Inquiry into robo-debt is going to happen.

Now what?

And what even is a Senate Inquiry, anyway?

These are very good questions about a process that most of us are not familiar with, so don't stress — we've been googling a lot lately, too!

Senate Inquiry is a committee of Senators

A Senate Inquiry is a committee made up of Senators that sets aside time to investigate and discover the facts about a specific policy or issue.

They don't want it to get all waffly, so they decide in advance what topics it's going to look at, and no others: these are called the "terms of reference". 

Anyone who has knowledge or experience relevant to these topics is invited to make a submission to the Inquiry: so if you know something about the thing they’re investigating they need you to tell them about it so that they can understand it properly.

In the case of the Centrelink false debt fiasco the "anyone" with knowledge is you if you have received a false debt. 

They want to hear from you, and the more we speak up, the more they will be forced to listen.

“Making a submission” sounds formal and scary and a lot like something someone else would do, but it’s really not.

Do you have a #notmydebt story about:

  • how the robo-debt system has affected your life?
  • what the experience of accessing your Centrelink records was like? 
  • whether there has been enough Centrelink staff available to answer your questions and deal with your problems in a reasonable timeframe?
  • Centrelink’s processes for dealing with complaints and reviews?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you have expertise that is relevant and vital to the success of the Inquiry.

You — yes, you! — are qualified to make a submission to the Inquiry, and we are going to do what we can to help you feel confident doing just that.

On the Your #notmydebt Story Matters section of the site we have a handy step by step guide to turning your #robodebt account into a submission for the inquiry.

Go on the record.

Be heard.

It is NOT your debt.