Braidwood resident’s story, plus domestic violence sufferer and others being hit
Community lobby group GetUp has taken a lead in revealing the allegations of a Centrelink Whistleblower.
In a letter sent to GetUp, the whistleblower has exposed a massive government fraud inflicted on tens of thousands of Australians.
Dozens of cases have already been reported of Australians receiving false debt claims from Centrelink. But that’s just the “tip of the iceberg”, according to a Centrelink compliance officer, who is risking his job to expose the truth.
His explosive 8-page letter explains in detail how the Turnbull Government’s automated debt program is systematically fabricating claims. Most shocking is the claim that Centrelink staff “are told … we must not make any attempt to fix the error[s] or our work will be returned as wrong.”
Key claims in the letter were independently verified yesterday by The Guardian.
The whistleblower has exposed five key frauds affecting pensioners, students and people suffering from mental illness:
- Doubling Income: A person’s entire income from the same employer is doubled up, or specific income – like leave and termination payments – are duplicated.
- Non-Assessable Income: Items like expense reimbursements for petrol and paid parental leave payments are wrongly counted as income.
- Fictitious Payments: The system generates debts based on payments that Centrelink never even made.
- False Recovery Fees: Recovery fees are applied when they shouldn’t and can be much larger than the set fee of 10%.
- Corrupted Review: Compliance officers are directed not to fix these errors, even when they have the evidence. On appeal, errors will only be corrected if the person specifically identifies them, which can be nearly impossible.
Centrelink has already sent threatening letters to 230,000 Australians.
See here examples of people being targeted and response
One Braidwood local received a letter demanding $15,000 for supposed overpayment of Family Assistance Payments on the basis that she would have received and claimed these entitlements despite the fact that her children have not been dependent and no claims have been made for over four years.
Centrelink’s response when she questioned the correspondence was to refer her to the Australian Taxation Office as the basis for their calculations is the completion and submission of a tax return. Centrelink itself had no records of any claims or payments being made and no basis for claiming any overpayment.
Alongside dozens of media reports, GetUp reports that it has received hundreds of harrowing stories from people targeted by the program:
“I was forced to return to my domestically violent relationship, now I am over $10,000 in debt, I can’t get a job … I have no access to any money as he hides it all … and people wonder why women stay in domestic violence.”
“My son who has Asperger’s Syndrome recently got handed a $2,000 debt by Centrelink for supposedly working in two places at the same time … Each time he starts to pull himself out of poverty he just gets hit again.”
“I received a nasty letter out of the blue, demanding almost $1,000. Which as an aged pensioner I do not have. I also do not have my old paysheets. So I have no way of challenging.”
It is further claimed by the whistleblower that the Turnbull government is planning to greatly expand the program to pensioners and people with disabilities.
Read GetUp story.