We are collecting stories on the site because we think it's important to have a way to people to add their voice to this issue by sharing their story. It's puts a human voice to the issues with using technology and automating systems and providing a blanket solution without providing staff and people that can right wrongs and help people when there is an error.
Please share your story with us if you have a Centrelink debt story that you believe has been issued in error or due to a fault in the system.
As frustrating as it is, persist with the appeals process, and know others are behind you.
Stories are 100% anonymous
I was medically retired 2009. Aged 40
Decided to retrain - had been put on disability - drs approved & supported retraining.
Took me 7 yrs to become an Registered Nurse
I was getting family Tax for my 4 children. Centrelink / Child support decided that I did not care for my 4 children during the separation until divorce. I was never told how the decision came about because my ex-husband confirmed that I had care and did not claim any family tax.
I was told I could work upto 25hrs per week without it affecting my carers payment. And I did so for 3 yrs while my partner was fighting for his life with kidney cancer. I had an initial debt of approx 25,000 (I threw out the letter, it stressed me too much to look at it) Ive been paying $100 a month since Sept 2016.
Called by a rude Centrelink employee who I could barely understand. Told I owe money and have a month to pay it back. Anxiety, cried after the phone call, not sure how to pay it.
I received my first pay check more than a week after my last centrelink payment. Now centrelink say I should have declared that but can't point to any legal reason why.
In 2018 we received 4 letters asking us to repay debt. 2 letters we received in July 2018 and anther 2 in November 2018. The amount of debt we had to repay was over $13,000.
the lack of information provided , the verbal contradictions of staff, refusal to provide requested information about the debt. I feel under a conspired attack intentionally targeted as a vulnerable in a period of great distress around domestic violence, family court and grieving the loss of a parent.
I actually don't know how I got the debt or when I got the debt. I logged on to mygov.com.au to check my payments and requirements and there it was.I ran away with my 2 young daughters in 2012, from a monster of 23 years.
in many ways this has affected me.
Honestly, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to be able to appeal the amounts but I am so horribly stressed as to the outcome. I have two children under 5 to support. I hid the debt from my partner for such a long time because I was embarrassed that I had made so many mistakes that would cost us this amount of money.
Free leaving extremely abusive domestic violence this escalated my diagnosed issues of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, depressive disorder
and also CPTSD. I have been fighting this for the better part of a year now!!
I am confused as to how this has occurred and it is affecting my ability to get a loan. I cannot get on with my life while this is happening.
When I first had a review the debt was reduced from $5,000 to $2,500 but when I kept requesting an explaination of how they calculated that amount they increased it to $3500.
I was working one day a week, meeting with a job agency one week and Centrelink the other week. I handed payslips in to the job agency, where they were scanned and added to my file. I applied for jobs, I trialed at a few, during which I did not get paid. Three years later, and three years off payments, I get the debt letter.
The brains trust down there a Centrewank decided that because my ex husbands tax was amended by the ATO by $700 that I incurred a $1011 debt. They said we weren’t separated. My income was $5k for that year. I have appealed it 4 times.
Opted to be in NIL rate of FTB for whole financial year as was not sure what income was to be... did my tax return and centrelink reconciliated my payment and I got a top up.
Receiving the letter, I felt a sense of doom. Yes I am now working full time and my financial situation has improved, but not too the point where I had a spare $900 to give them on demand.
I have always kept all my records, receipts, diaries etc all the way back to 2000. I always was honest with Colonel Clink but their computer said "no" They changed the calculations so that I had a debt. Last year I earned a total of $25k because I had some work but mostly Newstart.
Firstly I had a series of 'silent number' calls with a fuzzy message but heard "human services" and to press 1, which then went dead. After two of these I called Centrelink who had no messages on my file and suggested they were hoax calls and to ignore them.
So I got this email saying I owed $22200+ , I'm only 23 . This has destroyed my life . I'll be paying this back forever .
I've had to take a day off work just to get the on the phone to discuss it with me and ended up in tears after the 8th phone call, 8 hours and getting different information each time.
I just heard back from the first reassessment where they have added on another $200.
I was at Uni and receiving aus-study and working part time. I was making around $600ish a week when I was told by centrelink I would have to pay them back over $4,000.
Makes me anxious as i was full time at the time of the loan but i changed my study load later in the month following due to health reasons
Although my debt has been cleared, I wanted to share my experience in the hope that it will help reassure others that this is not only a horrific injustice but definitely a computer system failure that the government and all those involved need to be held accountable for.
Very annoyed and stressful