Single mum of 3, marriage breakdown - went on Pensioner Education Payment to gain employment skills. Gained employment (approx. 38 weeks per year, each year), but due to low income was advised I could claim part Newstart as employment was temporary part-time, subject to funding and therefore unpredictable. I attended ALL the required Newstart interviews, provided payslips, employment hours etc etc. ALL the required paperwork. Attended ALL Centrelink in-person appointments, phone interviews, all the required reporting details. Submitted tax return each year, on time, and was refunded money from Centrelink as my income was still low and I had overestimated my annual income. No reference at any time that my intermittent claims were incorrect. No one contacted me to say "could you please confirm this". Why wait 6 years? I have NOT claimed Centrelink for a very long time, yet this is dated back over 6 years. Why was there no contact from either Centrelink or the Tax Dept. when my income tax was submitted, each year? Why wait until 6 years has passed? I almost had a heart attack when I got the email. I would rather have rectified a problem after one tax return, rather than after 6 years! I have no idea how to balance my income with what Centrelink has - my tax is a pre-fill, I have no monies other than what they know I earnt, and this was also on my 6 tax returns. How could this be so wrong for so long? I have had to share so much of my personal information with them and held back nothing, yet this 'overpayment' has occurred and I'm angry at the stuffup. Stupidly, I've paid, in full, my so-called debt. I want to be free of Centrelink. It's taken EVERYTHING I had in my bank acoount, I've had no grocery money since I made my payment, and have had to go without meals, take fuel from my mower fuel can to put into my car (yes, I really did), but I was determined not to owe anything. I want to appeal, but the stress and uncertainty is too much for me. I'm done. They've taken everything I worked for.
To be fair, the compliance officer I spoke to handled my call efficiently, and I felt listened to and my situation could have been much worse if someone else had handled my call. However, when misinformation is being given to Centrelink customers, Centrelink MUST step up and ensure correct information is always given, and customers must be contacted as soon as something appears to be incorrect. They cannot let an amount overpaid be outstanding for 6 years. That is not okay and to have to prove you complied with everything asked of you is like being on trial. It's not okay. I'm done with Centrelink and want nothing to do with them ever again. I regret ever making contact with them 6 years ago, and would have never accepted the Newstart allowance they offered to me if I knew then what I know now.