Robo-debt refunds in doubt

Written on the 13 April 2021 by Kelly Higgins

Senator Rex Patrick estimates that up to 15,500 South Australians will not be refunded robo-debt monies held by Centrelink, as the Government stands by its process of automatically determining overpayment debt.

Robo-debt was introduced in 2015 to recoup welfare overpayments dating back to 2010. Initially it retained human oversight and review where Department of Human Services staff collected verifying information, including employer payslips, to assess if someone had received an excessive payment.

When the system became automated in 2016, it moved to contacting people Centrelink thought might owe more than $1000, effectively shifting the responsibility for providing information to the individuals concerned and reversing the 'onus of proof'.

The result has seen considerable stress amongst Australia's most financially vulnerable.

Senator Patrick argues that the Government must use factual information to establish a debt and created a petition demanding it pay back all robo-debts calculated using averaging or apportionment. If you would like to sign Senator Patrick's petition, it can be found here.


Author: Kelly Higgins

SAFCA

Suite 7 Wellington Centre, 2 Portrush Rd.
Payneham SA 5070