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Deadline revealed: Centrelink to resume debt recovery

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Centrelink will begin asking for debts to be repaid. Images: Getty
Centrelink will begin asking for debts to be repaid. Images: Getty

From Monday, Centrelink will begin contacting people it believes have been overpaid welfare in all states bar Victoria and bushfire-hit zones.

Services Australia put the debt recovery program on hold earlier this year as the country sank into recession and around 1 million joined the jobless queue.

But it will now resume contacting Australians from Monday 2 November, it confirmed in a statement.

“We may have noticed you were overpaid in the past. Because we weren’t raising debts between April and October 2020, you may not know this. Now the pause is ending, we’ll write to you if you’ve been overpaid,” Services Australia said.

“Even though it may be stressful to hear you’ve been overpaid, we know it’s important for you to find this out.”

Services Australia said it’s important Australians know they’ve been overpaid so they can plan for the future and correct the way they report their income.

“If you’ve been overpaid, we’re here to help you.”

What do I do if I find out I have a debt?

While Services Australia has begun the process of reclaiming overpayments, those who have a debt raised against them don’t need to pay anything until February 2021.

And if you disagree with the debt, you can ask for a review or call Centrelink for more details.

It comes as Centrelink also chases 15,000 people to refund money it incorrectly took through its controversial robodebt scheme.

Services Australia has already refunded 402,000 Australians’ debts raised against them, a total of $697.1 million.

Services Australia will no longer use the robodebt scheme to raise debts against welfare recipients after it was ruled unlawful last year.

The robodebt scheme still faces a class action lawsuit, with the Morrison government in May announcing it would repay debts worth a total $721 million.

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