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The ombudsman has started investigating the Centrelink data-matching debacle

10 January 2017
Business Insider

After an intense week of complaints from customers, politicians, Legal Aid, the social services lobby and privacy groups, the Commonwealth ombudsman will investigate Centrelink’s debt data-matching programme.
The office of ombudsman Colin Neave on Monday afternoon confirmed it is looking into the matter.

Talking Point: Centrelink debacle shows insensitivity to the most vulnerable

9 January 2017
The Mercury

Andrew Wilkie, the independent federal MP for Denison, said last week that some people who have, over the Christmas break, received aggressive letters from Centrelink are close to suicide.
It is not surprising, and it is shameful that it is so. It is also extraordinary that politicians like Christian Porter and Alan Tudge, the Ministers responsible for Centrelink, think its OK to boast about the recovery of debts from generally low-income Australians while their government does little or nothing about the fact that some corporations and many wealthy individuals in this country pay little or no tax.

Centrelink debt recovery: Labor calls on audit office to investigate controversial scheme

6 January 2017
ABC News

Labor has called on the National Audit Office to investigate Centrelink's controversial debt recovery scheme that has been criticised for mistakenly targeting vulnerable Australians.
The Government has defended the scheme — which cross references employment data from the Australian Tax Office and Centrelink — despite the Opposition claiming it was brutal and poorly designed.

Centrelink is referring some people distressed from its data-matching debt claims to Lifeline

6 January 2017
Business Insider Australia

Customers suffering distress and anxiety from debt notification letters sent out from Centrelink’s data-matching system are being referred to Lifeline by the federal welfare agency.
On Wednesday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie claimed that he had been in touch with people who were suicidal as a result of the allegedly false debt notices. He said that “the government has terrified countless people”.
Now social media records show that Centrelink’s official account has been advising multiple customers to get in touch with Lifeline in the midst of correspondence

Centrelink defends debt recovery scheme after Andrew Wilkie criticism

4 January 2017
ABC News

The Department of Human Services has defended its controversial new debt recovery system, which has been blamed for frightening welfare recipients over the Christmas period.
[...]
"I really am surprised that people are seriously suggesting that when we are obliged under the law to recover outstanding debt when it is identified, that we are being asked to stop doing this," Mr Jongen said. "The number of complaints we have received is a little over 200. I think you need to keep all of this in context."

Flawed Centrelink debt recovery system 'bringing some to the brink of suicide': Andrew Wilkie

4 January 2017
The Age

Centrelink's contentious debt recovery system is making some of the targeted people feel suicidal, independent MP Andrew Wilkie has claimed, as the furore over the clawback persists despite the government's insistence it is working exceptionally well.
The Tasmanian MP said the Commonwealth Ombudsman had agreed to his request to look into the matter.
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