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
It's made me frustrated in that no one at Centrelink knows what's going on or wants to help.
It was very stressful because I couldn't understand what I had done wrong.
Stressed to no end knowing that I hadn't done anything wrong.
I had been made redundant from my job in January 2014 and was unemployed.
I went to centre link in February and applied for benefits. Yes it took me a month to get the guts up to walk into one of their office and ask for a hand out.
It has been a huge shock two years after the claim to receive such a debt I feel helpless and like my child and I are worthless in the eyes of the parenting payment. Something that should have been a lovely period of both our lives is now overshadowed by a forced loan I am now having to pay back even though I did nothing wrong.
At first I was going to pay it just to get it over and done with, however when I let my mother know about she got angry and told me to call them.
This is extremely distressing and upsetting as the amount of the 'debt' is so high. I discovered the letter about this debt on my last work day before Christmas.
I was in absolute shock and had a panic attack when I first received the letter. Then I was angry as I had to repeat the situation over and over again to different people on the phone. All the call centre workers agreed that it didn't sound right and just to lodge the complaint with my payslips. Payslips which of course I no longer had.
Financial Stress and anxiety as had to pay back the school bonus and Child Care Benefit as well as the Family Tax Benefit amounting to over $8000AUD depleting all our savings
It has concerned me a lot over the Christmas period, the short time frame given to pay back the debt initially stressed me out. The fact that it concerns payments from 5 years ago has made it very difficult to track down pay slips and documentation. I feel angry that I am the one accountable for proving the inaccuracies.
i am a disability pensioner i was hurt in a work place accident so trying to pay $140,000 back is impossible. They cut my centrelink payments all of November and what little savings i had i had to pay into rent which destroyed my christmas and probity will never financially recover.
I am one of the people who received a demand to repay $8500 due to my apparent failure to report my income correctly.
Extreme distress - unable to pay
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.