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 suffer from depression and anxiety. I'm also a recovering addict. Not quite sure of exactly yrs but around 2009 to 2012 I was working at that stage of my life I wasn't an addict.
I was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer at 24 years old. I was without work for 6 months and already have the stress of cancer without the stress of having to pay back money
Received the 'debt' letter just yesterday. I'm assuming the initial 'explain yourself' letter was sent to my previous address, because I never got it.
I received notice in August 2017 that I needed to confirm my income from 2010/2012.
They say something payslips not matching and i owe this huge debt.
Financially, mentally and physically exhausted.
Currently i have no stable accommodation and looking for a breath of air where ever and when ever i can.
I have been very anxious about this experience.
Causing grief where it is not due, bringing back anxiety attacks whilst at work.
I'm lucky that the claimed debt amount would not be an issue to pay.
Luckily I was taught by my parents to keep all payslips and documents from a young age so I can easily prove this debt is wrong.
I was on Austudy between late September to mid December of 2014 because I was a full-time student (over 25), with a crappy retail job and on-top of that I was supporting my divorced, PTSD/Depressed Mother which was why I needed the centrelink payments in the first place to help cover expenses like rent, food, electricity, internet etc.
I had to change my living situation from student to job seeker in office.
I already suffer with anxiety and this has really taken its toll on me.
Mentally it has depressed me as I’ve had to go on medication as this issue has just tipped me over the edge.
Physically my body had broken out in a stress psoriasis, which I am now having to get treatment for x3 times a week.
Severe anxiety, chest pains, inability to sleep, focus very difficult.
Financial impact is debilitating.
Work has become extremely hard to focus on and I work in Mental Health !!
My debt was given to me in a letter saying I owe $20,000. They say I failed to update my study details.
This is my second debt. No one can explain to me how it has happened except my pay slips dont match up with my reporting.
Right before exam period approaches I get a letter to say I owe a mass amount of debt, absolute panic attack as I've never owed in my life and all of a sudden they want money in 14 days!
Requested a hold and a copy of DATA BREAKDOWN which allows you to verify what you reported so you can cross reference your pay.
Centrelink performed a data matching with the ATO.
The ATO had my earning $X for a particular period but centrelink had recorded $Y for the same period being less than the ATO.
They then decided this meant I had underdeclared my income.
Very stressful as I am already struggling on my current income.
There’s not a chance this debt could be accurate.
I received notice in August 2017 that I needed to confirm my income from 2012.
Panicking and unsure what to do, I spent hours going over old bank statements calculating the fortnightly net payments from my employer.
I am about to undertake my final exams for my degree (ever) and I feel very overwhelmed that they have just contacted me.
Very anxious and uneasy and have two exams this week. Can't stop thinking about it.
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.