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Centrelink inquiry told 'income averaging' creating incorrect welfare debts

6 April 2017

Forcing welfare recipients to disprove their own debts has made the error-prone, previously rare practice of “income averaging” commonplace, welfare advocates say.
The National Social Security Rights Network has used its submission to the “robo-debt” Senate inquiry to provide a forensic and detailed account of the problems with the new system.

'Reasonably clear' Alan Tudge's office broke law in Centrelink case, says Labor legal advice

3 April 2017

Labor-commissioned legal advice says it is “reasonably clear” that the government committed a criminal offence when it released the personal details of welfare recipient Andie Fox.
The opposition recently engaged one of Australia’s leading criminal barristers, Robert Richter, QC, to consider the release of Fox’s protected information by the office of human services minister, Alan Tudge, in February.

Infographic: the truth behind Centrelink’s waiting times

21 March 2017
The Conversation

Senior staff from the Department of Human Services told Senate estimates on March 2 that the average wait time to speak to a Centrelink operator is 14 minutes and 10 seconds.
But with reports of some people waiting more than an hour, 28 million busy signals so far this year, and welfare recipients being encouraged to go online rather than speak to someone, this doesn’t match with most people’s experiences of calling Centrelink.
This is because what’s not included in the reported wait time is probably more important than what is.

Tasmanian pensioners fear they’ll fall victim to Centrelink mistakes

18 March 2017
Courier Mail

Tasmanian pension recipients fear they will be caught up in Centrelink’s controversial debt recovery process.
More than 58 per cent of respondents to the Sunday Tasmanian’s survey of pensioners say they hold concerns about the automated system, which has been criticised for targeting individuals inaccurately.
Only 15 per cent said they had no concerns, while 36 per cent described themselves as very concerned.

Centrelink robo-debt program creating a 'climate of fear'

9 March 2017
Sydney Morning Herald

The Australian Taxation Office says the "robo-debt" debacle is not its fault and it is unhappy being publicly linked with Centrelink's controversial debt-recovery program.
Senior ATO officials told a Senate committee investigating robodebt on Wednesday that the ATO simply handed its data on taxpayers over to Centrelink's parent department, Human Services, which then used an automated system to raise debts.

Centrelink debt collection 'aggressive' debt collection tactics under fire in Senate inquiry

8 March 2017

Almost 85,000 welfare recipients were forced to repay Centrelink debts in the two months leading up to Christmas, new figures show.
Department of Human Services secretary Kathryn Campbell defended the need to call in debts over the Christmas period during a senate inquiry into the Centrelink “robo-debt” recovery scheme today.
Ms Campbell also blamed the level of media scrutiny on the scheme in January for escalating public concern and the amount of calls to Centrelink.
Department officials were also asked to address reports that a Centrelink recipient took their own life due to their concern about the debt they owed.