Recently, Centrelink has been in the news due to the flawed debt recovery system introduced in late 2016 known as ‘RoboDebt’.
This system, the Online Compliance Intervention program, targets people who have in the past or who are currently receiving social security payments. It has generated large numbers of inaccurate debts, which has resulted in extreme distress for those targeted, and, in some cases, resulted in people paying a debt they do not owe, or one higher than that they do owe.
The flaws of the program include automated data matching between the Department of Social Services and the Australian Taxation Office, resulting in inaccurate debt notices; an expectation that the person receiving the debt notice should prove that they don’t have a debt; and limited options for people to contact the department to resolve problems.
“When we talked about evidence of what was happening to people in Canberra because of RoboDebt, the Senate Committee really took notice. It’s really important for the Senators to see there are real people affected by this process.”
The Australian government’s Senate inquiry into Centrelink and their automated debt recovery system have completed their public hearings and the timeframe for submissions is now closed. The report was released on Wednesday June 21, and is available on their website.
What does ACOSS think?
Every voice matters.
People affected by Centrelink, their families and their communities, need to have a better deal.
RoboDebt must go.
ACOSS wants the Australian government to immediately stop the flawed and unfair automated debt recovery system.
A fairer approach to debt recovery needs to be worked out.
We want the government to convene a roundtable of key stakeholders and experts as soon as possible to design a fair and humane approach to debt recovery.
Nearly everyone accesses Centrelink at some time in their life.
Principles of procedural fairness and reasonableness must be guaranteed.
People’s confidentiality and privacy must be protected.
- ACOSS submission to Centrelink Inquiry
- A guide to keeping your privacy when participating in a Government Inquiry
- ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie’s opening statement to the Centrelink Inquiry
ACOSS media releases
- Pull the plug – Twelve months of robodebt is enough 21 June 2017
- RoboDebt must go: Community sector calls for end of Centrelink’s auto debt recovery program and the bullying of victims 8 March 2017
- ACOSS Statement on Centrelink Auto-Debt Recovery Program: Government must abandon Centrelink’s Auto-Debt Recovery Program to prevent further harm 19 January 2017
- Centrelink debt fiasco must end immediately 11 January 2017
- Need help writing a submission? The #Notmydebt website has an excellent how-to guide to writing a submission.
- National Welfare Rights Network factsheet
- Senate inquiry calls for Centrelink robo-debt system to be suspended until fixed
- Parliamentary committee finds Centrelink robo-debt system has had ‘profoundly negative impact’
- Suspend Centrelink Robodebt Until System Fixed, Senate Report Says
- Centrelink debt recovery system ‘so flawed it was set up to fail’, Senate committee says
- Centrelink told to pause robo-debt program
- Robo-debt And Denial: The Protocols Of Centrelink
- Listen to ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie on ABC Radio National Breakfast program, discussing the automated debt recovery program 21 June 2017
- Community legal centres warn cuts will leave Centrelink’s robo-debt targets helpless
- Centrelink inquiry told ‘income averaging’ creating incorrect welfare debts
- Centrelink debt recovery: Social Services Minister saw no analysis before saying system working ‘incredibly well’, FOI documents show