How cruel can Centrelink get?
How cruel is Centrelink’s debt campaign? One shocking story reveals the terrible truth …
“I almost committed suicide, but two calls to Lifeline saved me,” Kate told Unofficial: Centrelink News.
Kate from Sydney is disabled with two chronic medical conditions. She works part-time and receives no Disability Support Pension because Centrelink say she is not disabled enough.
Almost seven years ago, Kate was working in a casual position that ended in November 2010. She started on Newstart in January 2011.
Kate says she recognises her debt saga began when she didn’t check her MyGov inbox for a few weeks.
“When I did check, there was a notice of discrepancy with tax office details. It didn’t have any dates, just a request to confirm that I made $8,000 or so from an employer in 2010/2011.
“I went back in my records and found that yes that was what they paid me, I clicked yes and a new form came up saying; “You will get a judgement in 14 days.”
“I didn’t know what that was about. I started freaking out and calling Centrelink.
“Their system averaged my 2010/11 income over the whole year, making it look like I’d been overpaid,” said Kate.
“They wanted me to pay over $2000 plus a debt recovery fee of $167.”
Kate had to prove her innocence.
“They didn’t have to prove anything! I had to prove I didn’t owe them,” said Kate.
“I spent four days on the phone to them, I had a nervous breakdown and I am now off work for two weeks,” said Kate.
“One terrible day, I called Lifeline twice because I was seriously contemplating suicide.”
“I had to call my old employer from seven years ago,” said Kate.
“Luckily they were still in business and luckily they still had my payment records and were able to print out an employment separation certificate.”
“I only managed to avoid this fake debt because my old employer from seven years ago was willing and able to dig out my records and help me.”
“I feel sorry for people who aren’t as lucky as I am.”