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
Stress anguish. My son was told he had incurred a debt when he wasn't even registered to receive payments. Centrelink told him that the money must have gone into our (parents) bank account. He paid the bill as he doesn't need the stress.
My husband didn't work for about 3 year and didn't receive any payments from Centrelink. Now he owes money back that was apparently paid to him????
Major stress and can't sleep at night over how to sort this out. We have appleled and haven't heard anything back.
Received a debt in 2017 of over $5000, from 2011-2013! And even though they had my reporting data they still averaged my income out from ATO over the years. (I worked uni holidays on a station and didn’t even get Centrelink payments during holidays).
I have experienced severe financial anxieties. I have not paid for things I needed such as clothes, food and fuel to get to work due to limited funds. I pay a little amount each fortnight just to get by. I have relied on other people to pay my food and bills as I cannot provide for myself.
I am a single mum with no support whatsoever from anyone else. This debt has really made us miss out on basic things
Centrelink contacted me in 2017 about resubmitting my payslips from 2011 to 2013, which I did twice, I was then informed in 2018 that I had this debt to pay which I had contested and wanted it reviewed. Centrelink didn't bother to tell me that I lost and I was contacted by their collection agency that I had to pay this amount.
My anxiety levels have gone through the roof, my depression is back, and the stress has caused physical illness.
On top of that, I wasn't able to enjoy the lead up to my wedding due to dealing with this, and it is putting a lot of strain on a new marriage and our finances.
I received 5 letters of different debts all adding up to $20000 have been fighting it for 4 years now without success only found out this year AFTER not during a 3 month review that I had to go to my bank and print out copys of my bank records from the years I owe debt and bring them in thats a fuckload of paperwork that im hoping the bank still
My story is alike many others on this site. The debts have been raised againat me for overpayment more than 15 years ago. I visited the office and declared my wages etc and declared my change in circumstances and Domestic Violence.
I apparently owed $2??? But yet they have taken my whole tax check of $4235 without notice also part or the debt was Centerlink saying I only paid $240 per fortnight rent when I sent them the lease agreement and informing them I have paid $240 per week for the last 2 + years at the same address and through a rental agency !!
Was contacted in Sep 2017 to provide payslips and confirm income. Thankfully I had email payslips and confirmed it.
At the time I received notice of this debt I was having chemotherapy. I was not on any payment whatsoever as I living off my savings and the few pays I was owed from my employer. I didn't actually apply for any type of Centrelink payment until September 2016 so how could I have a debt.
This has got to be the most stress I have ever been under. I work seasonally and make sure I save enough money so I only have to be on Newstart for a few months until I start work again. Usually, by the time Centrelink processes my application I only receive a few payments.
It has caused mental health and stress levels to sky rocket, unstable work and life balance as an outcome, endless time and money costing me to chase records from my old closed bank accounts and pay to get statements printed out from old archives. Very unprofessional and very incompetent of the Australian government.
I was issued a $4000 debt because of my husband's payslips, (which were all declared, but Centrelink always claims they are not years later) for a payment I never received. I have also had my FTB taken at tax time this year to pay the debt.
Request this be investigated 5 times, only 2 times repayments were paused. Initial debt was July 2014-June 2016 for $4700, however since beginning of it being investigated this has changed multiple times, both with the amount AND the time period.
The stress of all this debt is not anyone should have to go through. In November 2015 I had lost my job because of my violent ex partner abusing my boss. Start of 2016 I left my ex partner and i took 2 of my 3 kids because I couldn't handle the abuse I was receiving from her.
My debt started back in 2010. I was offered a full time position which meant i was back in the work force, no more struggle days. At the time i was a single mum of 2 girls and there were times where we would live on 2 minute noodles but made do. So when i was offered a full time position i was stoked!
I have been paying $40 a fortnight since 2017 they assured me my wages and tax returns would not be touched because I was in a payment plan (They have never touched it before this year)because of a debt for underestimated income.
They gave me no letter or phone call and took my whole tax return $2800
My partner and I were switching full time roles as parent/student, thus switching payments of Parenting and Austudy. What should have been two simple applications proved otherwise.
Horrific dumb and just a joke. Went on maternity leave on 31 Aug 2010 returned first week of sep 2011 so 1 year unpaid leave.received first payment in Oct 2010 bub was nearly a month old.
My deabt is in appeal and has been for close to 12 months. They have put a hold on debt recovery for 3 months because the appeal still hasn't been processed and told me it can take up 2 years. But they took all my tax return of $1200 even though they have put a stop to recovering the debt.
My husband was out of work for 3 months and while he never received a single payment from centrelink, I was receiving parenting payment to support the 4 of us as I was on unpaid maternity leave.