In April, the Australian Government announced a ‘debt pause’ and Centrelink largely stopped contacting people to tell them they’d been overpaid. Although Centrelink stopped raising debts, they haven’t stopped calculating them.
The debt pause is scheduled to end on 30 October and we’re anticipating a debt ‘surge’ as more than 6 months of debt notices are sent out. The numbers are compounded by a range of factors including the unprecedented number of people claiming payments; Centrelink dropping some standard reporting requirements during the initial COVID response; many people’s lack of familiarity with Centrelink requirements; and overlapping payments of JobSeeker and JobKeeper. A lot of people are unaware they’ve been overpaid and have no idea what’s coming.
During the debt pause, people repaying debts were able to ask for repayments to be suspended. They will also need to start re-payments.
Welfare Rights Centre’s free community legal education session, Centrelink Debts and Robodebts, will outline options when Centrelink raises a debt. Speakers will cover common reasons debts are raised and measures you can take to check that there really is a debt and the amount of the debt has been calculated correctly. They will also address how to negotiate repayments.
The session will outline how to appeal Centrelink decisions that are incorrect or seem unfair, and the type of circumstances in which a debt can be waived. It will also address garnishee actions, Departure Prohibition Orders and possible criminal prosecution.
Speakers will also provide an overview of the current situation regarding Robodebts, including the Government’s commitment to refund recovered money and the pending class action for compensation.
Jointly presented by Welfare Rights Centre’s Solicitor and Community Legal Education Officer, the session will include case studies and time for questions. Participants are welcome to submit questions beforehand to ensure areas of particular interest are covered.
This training session is not an RLC event. For more information please contact Welfare Rights Centre: [email protected] . Welfare Rights Centre is a specialist community legal centre providing free legal advice on Centrelink and social security matters to people in NSW.
Please follow this link for bookings.