Centrelink Debt Tracker

Like way too many people, I've been issued with a Centrelink robodebt, in my case $7,700.

Like way too few people, I am not going down without a fight, which I'll be regularly updating here.

19 March 2019

I've had a couple of calls from debt collection about the debt, which I won't bore you with. I got through to Centrelink today, and they said my debt was with the investigations team (still! They expect you to pay immediately but haven't worked out what it's for in six weeks). They have put my debt on hold for 3 months. So...there won't be much news in the interim I suppose. I just hope they actually recall the debt from the debt collectors, as I asked.

7 February 2019

I get a letter from a private debt collector saying that they're collecting on behalf of Centrelink for a $7.7K debt I owe them. What the financial accountability? I check my My Gov letters. Turns out Centrelink is claiming they overpaid me nearly $8,000 for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 financial years. What? How?

I post on Twitter about this inexplicable Robodebt:

I'm bouyed and heartened by the response. So many people share support and their stories of similar bizarre debts. It gives me the strength to decide I'm going to fight this, instead of being overwhelmed with anxiety. The debt collection letter mentions something about me being prevented leaving the country; I'm planning my first overseas trip in 15+ years, so that's a kinda devastating prospect.

But I'm also furious. Think of all the debts and overpayments run up by parliamentarians that they don't have to repay, the current BS that Tim Wilson's probably going to get away with, the Banking Royal Commission. What about a Royal Commission into Centrelink and Social Security law? So many of these debts raised without explanation, just threats and demands.

So I finally get through to Centrelink calling on the phone from my third try. (Hint: if you need to call, do it at 7pm). The nice lady on the phone couldn't tell me why the debt has been raised, but promised me someone would look into it and get back to me; this would have to be done before I can lodge an appeal against the debt, as I can't challenge it without grounds (though they can issue it without grounds...). You bet your bippy I will be challenging it, and also going to my Federal MP, and if anyone in the media would like to contact me about this please do, I'm semi-articulate and don't have a terrible body odour problem any more.

Someone suggested this is revenue raising by the government. I wouldn't put it past them. There's a suspiciously large number of debts raised soon after people get of Centrelink and start working - when they have capacity to pay. Maybe the government quietly passed legislation that all Centrelink payments will now have to be repaid. Though I am not sure when they would have done that, since the current government never actually rocks up to Canberra to do their job.

Anyway, I'll update this page every time I have news.

December 2018

Having finished uni and started working full time, I'm no longer receiving any payment from Centrelink and am very grateful to be done with them (like the vast majority of people on Centrelink who would prefer not to - it's not a lifestyle choice - but I won't get started). I get a text message or two from My Gov to say I've got a letter from Centrelink, which being very glad to be done with Centrelink and not needing to meet requirements as I'm not getting any payments, I first ignore then forget about.

Background 2015-2017

I separate from my husband and move into private rental accommodation. I have part time custody of our son and study full time, for which I receive Austudy and a small share of Family Tax Benefit. During this time I report all assets to Centrelink honestly. At no stage do I work or have a partner. My financial situation during this time was very, very precarious, with having to at times decide if I wanted to eat or get the train to classes and see my son.

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