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
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
Stress levels through the roof - about to undergo heart surgery, will likely lose my job and will now be unable to claim anything, can't do my tax return which I was counting on, hardly sleep at night anymore and will most likely get even more sick now as my heart condition is directly stress-related.
I’m in utter shock
How am I supposed to re pay this ? I’m not working
I am a single parent with two children one with special needs / autism which I receive carer payment from
I cannot work as I am his full time carer
Again I’m in shock
Anxiety levels are high
I feel like giving up
I received a letter from Centrelink in 2017 about an apparent discrepancy between my taxable income and reported income for the 14/15 financial year. They asked me to enter my payslip amounts for the entire year for three jobs into their system. Luckily I was able to find a record of all of these.
I received $55,000 compensation for having to have revision surgery to replace a faulty hip implant.
I informed Centrelink when I received the compensation (12th. September 2017).
They now want to reduce our pensions and claim back a total of $1,950.
Years ago when my son was in primary school (~2008) I got my first $12000 debt that I've now repaid although I always reported my income and Centrelink said it was an overpayment.
I was recovering from a bout of clinical depression for which I was receiving treatment when I first received notification of the proposed debt. This was communicated to me over the phone during business hours when I was at work. I quickly became distressed and upset upon being told that I owed over $10,000 to the department of human services.
My anxiety levels due to this debt are crazy I am stressing about it all the time. I was waiting on my tax money so I could pay some bills and centrelink took my whole tax refund to pay off some of my debt!!!!!! They didn't even give me a chance to dispute it.
It frustrated me so bad that im scared to call them every time i call or get an email its another bill and no reason as to why they apporved me for the sickness allowance now i am paying it back also some family payments and partnered i have no letters as to why... i have been of centerlink since jan this year..
Financial stress,living costs,school fees,homelessness. How can we live on $4 a week? Waited 5mnths before i got a payment from centerlink,lie after lie from them stating all was fine,just to be advised that $3000+ was taken for a ftb/parenting payment debt from 2006 to 2007. Takes 2 mnths to even hear back about my appeal.