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If I did not ask for review, nearly a year later, I may have continued to pay back money I did not owe

Debt amount: 
Date debt issued: 
Tuesday, 10 April 2018
Period debt occurred: 
August 2019
Has your case been referred to a collection agency?: 
Payment Type: 
Newstart Allowance
Appealing Debt?: 
Yes & I won
Tell us about your debt and how has this affected you? e.g. anxiety levels, financial and accommodation stress: 

I had employment terminated in 2016 and had to go on Newstart allowance. Did not find work and decided to pursue further education so applied for Austudy. Was approved for Austudy, was doing great in my degree and then informed of a debt in April 2018. Because of this I cancelled my payment on Austudy, dropped full time study and tried to earn an income from Uber Eats deliveries. The stress from not having a regular source of income caused me to have two at fault car accidents in a very short period of time, of which I had never had before, a red light camera fine and $95 parking ticket - this was incredibly stressful considering I did not have a regular income.

In September 2018 I applied to go back on Newstart as Uber was costing me more than I was earning and I agreed to pay down my debt at $35/fortnight. I did provide pay details via bank income statements to check whether I had under-declared my income during periods where I had claimed Newstart and was working part-time in the past. I was told after providing correct income for the periods in question that the debt was the same as the average taken before providing pay information. I accepted the debt at the time but requested documentation for how the debt was calculated of which I never received.

In July 2019, I decided to have the debt reviewed. I had already paid back nearly $1000. After having a review I was informed I did not owe the $1800 and that in fact I had paid back too much and Centrelink was in arrears to me. I was "overcharged" approx $1000. The remainder of the debt was cancelled and arrears paid.

I had a very difficult 2018, financial stress and homelessness risk.

How do you feel about the way the Government has handled this process?: 

Dishonest. When informed of the debt, I did provide correct pay details so that the average was not used to calculate over-payment. I was told the amount was the same of which I accepted, requesting calculations for the debt. If I did not ask for review, nearly a year later, I may have continued to pay back money I did not owe.