Centrelink Inquiry

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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.

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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.

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Further information

ACOSS resources

ACOSS media releases

Other resources

Recent media

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