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
On the first day of a much awaited holiday I received three letters from Centrelink: one notifying me of a $4237 debt, one warning me to pay it, and one notifying me of punitive interest.
After the end of an abusive relationship I had to quit study for mental health reasons and look for work to make up for lost income and the increase in expenses from no longer sharing.
Processing the change from youth allowance to Newstart was a mess and I've ended up on the hook for 6 weeks of pay.
Six months ago I received a letter in the mail advising me that I needed to update my details with the ATO about my employment while recieving youth allowance.
I had applied for youth allowance while studying at university, and recieved payments for about three years while I worked part time.
BEEN CRYING MYSELF TO SLEEP EVERY NIGHT BECAUSE IM STILL STUDYING AND STRESSED. I’VE BEEN WORKING LOTS OF JOBS YES BUT I STILL ATTENDED UNIVERSITY FULL TIME AND PARENTS ARE NOT MEETING THE INCOME FOR ME TO NOT RECEIVE YOUTH ALLOWANCE.
Some weeks I earned under threshold and some weeks I earned over threshold.
Was issued with a debt notice (dated Dec 2016) but did not receive it as my address had changed and I hadn't been on Centrelink for around 2 years (even though my address was up to date with medicare and ATO).
When I eventually received it, it was for 2014-15 FY and around $5750 (including a late fee).
The debt and lack of information had a large impact on my stress levels.
I AM NOT EVEN WITH CENTRELINK ANYMORE.
I got a call last week telling me that I had 12 days to report all my payslips to them otherwise they will use the ATO and that it would most likely result in a debt.
Suffer from depression under financial pressure.
No cent received from Centerlink is worth the debt they claim you owe them come years down the track.
I have both Bipolar and Borderline personality disorder.
I received a letter about 8 months ago saying that the figures that I had reported did not match up with the figures they received from ATO.
The figures were from when I started a new job up until my partner and I moved in together.
What happened was I tried to go onto Austudy for University.
During this time, I was on Newstart.
It took Centerlink months to decide not to pay me Austudy.
At that stage, I cancelled Newstart as I needed to focus on my university studies.
Then in late August, I was shocked to see that I got a debt letter.
Received a notification of approx $3100 debt caused by a discrepancy between my reported income and my PAYG statements provided by the ATO to Centrelink.
Debt started with threatening calls talking about amounts as high as $6000.
After I provided bank statements as payslips were unavailable the debt reduced to $600, and then was revised down to $540.
I have just become a qualified lawyer at the end of 2017 and to hear that I owe a debt of almost $4K has really upset me.
I was shocked when I received email to check myGov inbox, and it said I owe $2,100 from 3 years ago.
I rang them and they said they did not know how that amount was calculated, asked me to upload payslips from that financial year, which I did.
In June 2018 i got a letter in the post from centrelink.
It was 'issued' in early may and had a DUE DATE of 8 June.
My wife received an email telling her to check her My Gov mail inbox. She logged in last night to find a bill for $5319.90
I suffer from ulcerative colitis and one trigger for flare ups is stress.
Needless to say I didn't sleep last night and since finding out i've suffering severe symptoms of my U/C.
I am a single mum and victim of domestic violence.
My husband committed suicide and i am left to take care of two kids by myself.
I work 4 times per week and receive single parent payment from Centrelink.
I have anxiety and depression and I live pay check by pay check.
First came a $4,500 debt.
It's not worth the stress I thought.
Then another $8,000.
And now in the process of claiming a compensation case, they want me to repay everything because I may not have been entitled to it.
I am in my final year of study which means I have to complete 20 weeks of placement without pay, and generally away from home meaning I can’t work my other job either.
First contact, text message, phone call November 2016. I dismissed as a telephone scam.
Contacted DHS in person.
2018 tax return stolen.
Contacted my accountant.
Greated MyGov account, Uploaded payslips, bank statements and a letter to complaints.
I recieved my debt this year right before tax time.
I am being accused of being in a relationship with my children's father when everything I provided them proves otherwise.
It is very stressful, the debt is from so long ago I feel I have no way to prove they are wrong.
The debt collector also wants me to pay it back at such a high amount that I have been unable to pay my other bills.
After being stung for 8 thousand and losing for some reason in AAT, I thought the hell with it. I'll just cop it on the chin, it's less stressful than fighting it.
I recived the letter today and it has frightened the life out of me as im already suffering anxiety stress suisidal thoughts due to my job being at risk and everything around me falling appart health suffering and not feeling like i can cope with day to day life let alone another burden