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 have been given a robodebt of about $30,000. I was actually in between jobs and signed up for Newstart for 2-3 weeks a few months ago and I received the notice almost straightaway. I actually remember the rules at the time when I was on the disability support pension. We could receive a full pension and work 2 days per week.
Centrelinks antiquated student monitoring systems were apparently incapable of authenticating my study load and as a result they kept granting then cancelling my Austudy payment (and "raising a debt" against me).
Got two letters that totalled about $3k in debts... (I think I was pretty early in the whole process.)
I knew that I had always reported as accurately as I could so was pretty confident that I didn't owe anything (or at least not anything close to that much!)
I have spent countless hours on the phone to Centrelink and it's just going around in circles. They can't even work out if it's a Newstart debt or an Austudy debt. I know that I do no owe them anything.
HIGHLY ANXIOUS, NO IDEA OF THIS. I HAVE COMPLETED PAPERWORK EARLY LAST YEAR. NO MENTION OF ANY OUTSTANDING DEBT WAS ISSUED FOLLOWING THE AUDIT.
I am a single mum of 3. At the end of 2018 i got a call from centrelink saying i have been over paid over 26,000.00, my head spun not understanding how the goverment could let it get so high.
Single mum of 3, marriage breakdown - went on Pensioner Education Payment to gain employment skills. Gained employment (approx. 38 weeks per year, each year), but due to low income was advised I could claim part Newstart as employment was temporary part-time, subject to funding and therefore unpredictable.
I was very worried when I first got the letter as I was not expecting this. The letter says I was overpaid and at the time I didn't even think to contest it, I just assumed it was correct and paid the amount. This happened just before Christmas, so not a great time to be hit with a bill. ~$500 may not seem like a lot, but for me it is.
After completing my taxes for the 2017-18 year, I recieved a devt letter for $550 in child care rebate overpayment. It took 4 months to get through on the phone and actually speak to someone.
I requested more information about how the debt had been calculated as I always overestimate my income to avoid overpayment.
It's an absolute joke.
The time I have taken out of my full time roll to tackle this, hours spend on hold and the multiple letters I've even sent to get some kind of communication is obscene.
First I heard about it was from a debt collection agency. I was furious and yes it has caused considerable stress. There was no detail showing the alleged over-payment. Just our records show you owe us money. I indicated to Probe Group I was challenging the debt and was referred to Centrelink Appeals who put debt on hold.
Absolutely dismayed. Thier whole purpose is so you can 'move in to full time work' which i did.
Anxiety, stress, attempted suicide, anxiety attacks,
The fact that centre link is trying to make me pay this debt without acknowledging my side of the story or even giving me hard proof that this is really how much i owe has made me very stressed from giving me a spreadsheet of all wrong amounts that i "earned" to then telling me i cant go off that because its not right and wouldn't
Anxiety frustration unable to get same figure for debt twice. Unable to get explanation of debt. Continuously disconnected if able to get through at all. Worsening of mental health more withdrawn. Medication changes. Sleep disruption
I have a debt with center Link n now that I'm to the end of it there figures are wrong original debt was 1688.04 according to my calculations I still owe $101 but when I checked online they're records show that I have paid $1800 with a balance of $106 with $6.54 interest I didn't think I owed the money to begin with but they said
My stress levels went through the roof because I knew that I had done the right thing, and they gave me only 28 days to prove my case.
I’m having a mental breakdown, after over estimating and declaring everything I earned doing my tax every year I can not understand how I’ve accumulated a debt.
I suffer from ptsd and anxiety and depression I As been looking after my elderly mother whom had to go into constant care
I went in several times and was told my file was sorted and everything would be ok
How wrong was I
This has been on going for the last 2 or so years
Anxiety, depressed mood, angry, resentful,confused and powerless. It’s quite distressing to think I may have to use my super to pay for this debt. It feels wrong. I wish I had known this would happen and I would have simply found a full time job and made other arrangements for my child.
Financially it has ruined me, almost at the end of bankruptcy and making ends meet and this happens. I am suffering from depression and now have anxiety. My relationship has become strained.
I was totally stunned when i received it.
I had been on a Widows Pension since 2006, but I'm being paid a Newstart Allowance. I only worked part time. I have been retired since 2013. They said they had overpaid me by $4000 for 2011 to 2012!!
Unbelievable waste of time, money and not to mention that fact that I have been accused of rorting the system. Despite all of this I will fight them all the way.
Working seasonally at winery. Finished April, back on allowance. Union found underpayment, and a $600 gross payment issued in June 2014. Got a new job in Sept 16, no centrelink since. Debt account arrived december 2016.
I've been through this twice now. Both times it was obvious to me where the mistake lay in their algorithms and I was able to explain it. But I was told I had to prove it anyway.
Both debts were 100% waived but after a painstaking wait.