This is very stressful, and quite embarrassing to have to tell people, especially previous employers.
I am lucky in that my alleged debt amount is fairly low, and if Centrelink can prove that I do owe the money I can actually pay it. I just don't agree with the way the Department of Human Services is going about it.
Having average Joe Blow's try to explain to you an intricate calculation process and with no regard to the concept of a fair trial is very frustrating. None of the call-centre workers appear to be legally trained and constantly can't answer questions because they don't know the answer. Once I asked pursuant to what statute are they recovering the alleged debt, and what regulation or policy are they are referring to and they had no idea.
The threat that tax-returns may be automatically deducted or my passport invalidated until the debt is solved is very concerning as well.
It is a complete scam. Trying to recover money from the most vulnerable people in society is despicable. Try as they may to justify the use of an averaging calculation, it will never be fair. If they want to audit people then sure, do that, but don't average a bunch of numbers without taking into consideration the individual circumstances of that person and call it a debt.
And yes, if you are demanding payment within 14 days, it is a debt notice.
If you are unilaterally deciding that we owe money and will take further action if it is not paid, it is a debt.
If you calculate the total amount of wages and divide it by the weeks or days worked, it is an average.
And no, it does not reflect our actual earnings.