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 had just lost a job a week before receiving centrelink's letter and promptly applied for Newstart to make sure i would be ok. Having lost work around the Christmas period once before, i knew from experience that it can be one of the most difficult times to find new employment.
I am currently on Newstart unemployed and caring for an elderly relative and at risk of homelessness as I am couch surfing with relatives. Initially the distress, when the system calculated my debt, was overwhelming I felt alone and sick.
Firstly to clarify:
It's mentally exhausting thinking about what I need to prove these are false calculations, I was so stressed too the point I would just burst into tears frequently and whenever the words centlerlink popped into my head.
this has put a huge amount of stress not only financially but also day to day stress as i have talked to over 10 people through centerlink and gone in to see some one for help multiple times. they all say that it doesn't seem right and that i shouldn't have to pay it.
Very stressful to be told you suddenly owe a few thousand dollars when you did the right thing reporting income in the first place. Definitely can't afford to pay it all at once as I have a disability and can only work 3 days per week.
Have just spent 6 hours cross referencing numbers from Child Care Statements, payslips etc and still cannot work out a clear explanation - I have 3 debts and only one I can find an error, the rest is making me crazy! And they want me to pay a minimum of $123.24 a fortnight until Dec 2018.
Absolutely disgusted by the clear error Centrelink has made and has not fixed. Same issue, full amount earned over 1 financial year simply applied as being earnt over the full year which is NOT the case.
Having to pay back an extra bill on top of all my living expenses as a student is difficult. I also suffer from depression/anxiety, so the financial hardship this has put on me, has at times caused anxiety attacks, missed work, missed lectures, I feel trapped into paying back a debt that isn't mine and it's horrible.
I cannot afford food, pay my bills, pay my rego in 8 days. Don't have money for petrol or anything for that matter.
It has soured my anxiety and depression further and I am struggling to keep going.
I called and questioned about the debt and they didnt seem to know why I have accumulated the amount since 2013. Long story short, I arranged to have $20 deducted from my Newstart Allowance everytime I get paid but I never receive a letter to confirmation the deduction.
Receiving the so called debt almost 4years later and close to Christmas also having to then fight it has been nothing but unecessary and uneeded stress. And a matter that many Australians should not be incurring
I didn't receive a letter in the mail. When I happened to check "MyGov" I found the letter there claiming I owe them $7000.
Was a very big shock to receive letter notifying debt owed just 3 days before Christmas. With a young daughter this added heaps of unnecessary financial stress and I questioned whether we could even afford to celebrate Christmas at all.
depressed, stressed out financially broke
I can't even survive on the 'normal' rate of Newstart. Now, having 20 a fortnight taken out to cover this supposed debt, it is even more difficult.
This caused my lupus to flare up which means severe chronic pain which is preventing me from doing simple daily tasks like bathing, eating and sleeping, an anxiety attack and several hours of crying, not to mention the migraines caused by sleepless nights and sitting on the phone listening to the god awful hold music that seems to be designed to
I felt physically sick when I opened the letter. I had sleepless nights of worrying about the whole situation. I was stressed and worried for the the 3 months that it took to resolve the issue.
I'm in insecure employment in education, already on a very tight budget and felt I had no choice but to begin making repayments while appealing. Despite multiple phone calls I am yet to fully understand why I have incurred a debt & therefore what evidence is needed to dispute.
Financial stress and unnecessary anxiety surrounding the process of appealing
I'm a long term sufferer of depression and anxiety and being informed i was being investigated made my condition worse. I usually apply for my yearly cash advance at this time of the year to pay my car registration, however, now i have a debt with Centrelink, i am no longer eligible for this loan.
A huge amount of stress, I have had to take sick leave from work because of it. Financially, the debt collectors threatened to recover my wages in full if I didn't pay a large part of the sat up front, so I placed $500 on my credit card upfront, and was forced to set up a payment plan of $140/week.
Im very stressed. My debt is apparently from 2008/09 but i never knew until now and always received my benefit this whole time not knowing. Why did they come up with this now??
Has affected my depression very badly
All of the above. The anxiety I experienced after receiving the debt notices (there have been two) was paralysing, the attitude of the collection agency rude, belittling and unhelpful.