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 on Youth Allowance for a brief period whilst I completed my last year at University.
During the time I was working part-time and Centrelink are now claiming that I did not declare correctly and that I owe $3,547.00.
Two other people in my work place are having the EXACT same issue.
Last year (2017) I received a phone call to verify my earnings from the period of 2013-2015!
Are you kidding me? In those years I was studying, in 2015 all year, so would have been on Austudy and was working here and there over those years too.
Back in 2016 I started studying my Masters degree and signed up for Austudy, I also dropped my hours back at work to focus on my studies.
Submitted a FOI request and received a full spreadsheet showing all the calculations. Turns out my 'under-reporting' matches exactly how much tax I was paying for that fortnight.
This created a lot of stress to me, but Centrelink didn't care, just told me to contact Lifeline.
Not once did they try and assist when I asked as to how the debt was calculated.
I took it to the AAT, and I won.
Sole mother, immigrant, working full time, struggling with time to brush my teeth, have to deal back and fourth of centrelink-former boss-current boss with different types of requests and letters just to prove the debt is wrong.
I don't know who to get them to prove that I owe the money instead of me proving I don't owe.
Centrelink attempted to call me Friday 1st June 2018, staying they required proof of income during the Financial Year (FY) 2014/15 and 2015/16.
Well I’m still paying off another debt because in dec 2016 they paid me twice and then told me may 2017 that I had been overpaid in dec and that I had to pay.
I am currently on work compensation .
Stress and anxiety depression leave
This is affecting me greatly i cant sleep eat function always thinking
Got a call out of the blue from debt collector. Coerced to provide bank details for payments before I could think about it.
It’s a small amount but I don’t earn much now so debt is debt.
I did fortnightly reporting of income during the brief time on Newstart so how I’m here I don’t know.
Have cooperated with Centrelink from Day One. Nothing has been hidden.
Suddenly the pension was reduced to $70 p/f.
From there it has slowly increased to $105 p/f.
I received a letter from Centrelink stating that I was paid incorrectly, which led to a debt against my name.
I asked for a full breakdown of the debt so I could understand where the figures originated from. The detailed breakdown showed a couple of debts were accrued against my name in 2012.
I intend to appeal the debt. I am asking my university for evidence. In short, a decision maker in Centrelink decided to state that my higher degree was by course work, when in fact it is by research.
It has caused me some anxiety, but I know I have not done anything wrong.
Because of differences in reporting periods between my employer and Centrelink, they decided I had a debt of $66.
This would have been cheaper and easier to just pay out, but I couldn't leave it be, so I fought their claims and was vindicated.
This is not legal advice but I have just spent a week investigating and thought some of what I found out might be useful.
Really stressed about it, but Centrelink wont listen. This is the second time within twelve months.
When i first found out, i was furious, scared and angry.
This is my 4th year on Youth Allowance as I am studying in Melbourne and moved 2 hours to be closer to uni.
Heart sinking, stress,anxiety,feeling financial insecure.
My kids being affected due to my depression and anxiety.
I came home from psychiatric hospital after suicide attempt to the letter! My anxiety has yoyoed with every rediculous phonecall where all information has to be confirmed and explained ... arg!
Child support said I should have been paid more money but only updated the amount this year (back dated).
Obviously this means I never received the money as no body knew of the change.
Child support has been guessing the amount from older information to being with.
It has caused me a great deal of worry and grievance.
Before they started harassing me I was feeling good about everything in my life. Over the past two years I've been very happy.
Anxiety/stress levels through the roof.
The whole process has been hugely stressful and no one seems to give a clear answer as to how the debt may have occurred.
I have had a couple of explanations and could not understand them.
Recieved a call stating i had failed to return requested documenta by May 1st and had incurred a debt due to supposedly underreporting employment income for 2012/2013.