The Government’s indication it will modify the Centrelink debt recovery program, while a concession of sorts that there are problems, misses the point which is that the program is deeply flawed and must be shut down immediately.
Centrelink recipients across the region are being told to pay back false debts sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars because of a faulty computer algorithm.
The Federal Government and Centrelink have come under heavy criticism from all quarters over the automated system that has been used to match welfare recipients' reported income.
Amid all the anger the government agency began using Twitter to refer welfare recipients to crisis support hotline Lifeline as the hashtag #notmydebt began trending on the social media platform.
As impossible as it sounds, the Centrelink debt fiasco has spiralled even further out of control.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who has been calling on the government to halt the automatic debt recovery system, today published evidence from Centrelink whistleblowers documenting damning flaws in the debt recovery process.
Medical researcher Janet Hammill, who works voluntarily, struggling to contact anyone at Centrelink after she was incorrectly told she owes $7,600
Thank you for investigating the debt notices that are currently being generated by the Department of Human Services.
I have now been approached by several current and ex-Centrelink employees who have recently left the Department due to the new debt recovery program. I am deeply concerned by what these employees have told me and summarise the information conveyed to me below:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will reveal the shocking inside story of the flawed Centrelink debt grab that includes staff being set daily debt notice quotas and urged to work overtime and compete to haul in the most debts.
Disability advocates have put further pressure on the government to suspend its automated debt recovery system, while Centrelink continues to refer distressed and suicidal individuals to Lifeline.
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, a collection of disability support and advocacy groups, has called on the government to immediately halt the recovery process, which has relied on a crude and automated data-matching process to begin chasing 169,000 debts from welfare recipients since July.
The current Centrelink debt fiasco is, sadly, measuring up as a human disaster. There are now too many frightening examples of letters and subsequent poor treatment of individuals trying to prove their innocence.
A disaster relief fund has been formed for Tasmanians struggling with the mounting stress of Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery system.
The state’s community service sector has rallied together to provide immediate support to Tasmanians needing legal advice, advocacy and support about their debt notices.
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, again called on the Government to put a halt to Centrelink’s flawed debt recovery process.
“I’ve now received over a hundred complaints from all around the country from people who have recounted deeply disturbing stories about Centrelink’s new debt recovery process,” Mr Wilkie said. “The Government has terrified countless people, ruined the Christmases of many and even driven some people to contemplate taking their own lives.