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Robo-debt And Denial: The Protocols Of Centrelink

21 June 2017
New Matilda

This is the third feature in Ben Eltham’s 2017 investigation into Centrelink’s robo-debt program. The first article in the series was published in January, and the second article in March.
Centrelink’s sprawling data-matching empire is opaque, error-prone and almost completely impossible to understand, writes Ben Eltham. And it’s expanding across government programs and agencies.
[...]
After listening to weeks of harrowing testimony, Siewert has found the Senate Inquiry a draining experience.
“You come out of those hearings and you feel really drained. The evidence we hear is very distressing – hearing of people’s experiences and feeling their sense of powerlessness and despair.”

Centrelink staff ordered to ignore errors in automated debt notices

20 January 2017
The Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, ALP Member for Barton

The Turnbull Government must immediately suspend the Centrelink robo-debt debacle following more disturbing claims from a Centrelink whistleblower.
According to reports Centrelink assessors are being directed to ignore obvious errors in the calculation of debt, unless customers directly object.

Centrelink: Letter claims staff told to ignore errors in data-matching program

19 January 2017
ABC News

Centrelink staff working on the agency's controversial debt claw-back program have been told to ignore errors in calculations and push through debts they know are incorrect, according to an anonymous letter written by a person claiming to be a Centrelink compliance officer.
Activist group GetUp! released the eight-page letter it received from a person claiming to have worked on Centrelink's automated data-matching project, known as the Online Compliance Intervention.

‘Just listen…!’: employee voice, Bundaberg Hospital & robo-debt recovery

25 January 2017
Griffith University News

Giving staff a say in what happens in their workplace in the hope that it will influence their employer’s operations and business affairs for the better is what employers want. Equally, employees wish to put forward views both for this reason as well as asserting their own interests. These are both what researchers refer to as ‘employee voice’.
The assumption cannot be made however, that formalised means of capturing voice (which are usually designed by managers and can look nothing like they were intended when implemented), resolves all the issues raised.

Whistleblower or misguided luddite? Centrelink rejects serious allegations

19 January 2017
The Mandarin

Centrelink says concerns reportedly emanating from some of its staff — via their union and a left-leaning activist group — are the result of misunderstanding the complexity of the welfare system and personal disagreements with policy and technological change.
In response to the most serious allegations since the “#notmydebt” campaign began to push back against the agency’s letters asking people to clarify differences between information about past welfare payments and tax data, spokesperson Hank Jongen implies that some employees either don’t understand or don’t agree with how the system works.

Former Official Says Govt Would Have Known Centrelink Shitstorm Was Coming

4 January 2017
pedestrian TV

As the Centrelink kerfuffle continues, criticism from the Opposition mounts and the Government continues to maintain that the system is functioning as expected, a former high-ranking department official has told The Guardian that management would have known the risks before they rolled out the automated debt recovery system.

No significant increase in debt review requests, says Centrelink

27 January 2017
Guardian

Claim sits in stark contrast to allegations from staff and a Centrelink compliance officer says it is misleading.
Centrelink has maintained it is not seeing any significant increase in requests to review debts generated by its controversial automated recovery system, directly contradicting the claims of its own staff.
Despite the continued criticism of the system, the Department of Human Services said the number of requests for formal review had not increased dramatically.

Let's talk about facts

25 January 2017
Australian Government Department of Human Services Media Hub

Public discussion continues to present false accounts of the Department of Humans Services’ online compliance review system.
The department has already rejected unsubstantiated claims from anonymous staff in statements last week, including refuting allegations about the treatment of exempt income. All assessments appropriately consider assessable and non-assessable income.

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