QuoteReplyTopic: Centrelink Debt Posted: 30/May/2012 at 15:57
My girlfriend has been receiving Youth allowance for a couple of years now, until about a month ago. Every cent, and I mean every cent. Went directly into her mothers bank account. Her mother was in control of the centrelink account but it is under my Gfs name. The problem came from when my gf was attending tafe, she did not meet the necessary hours to get youth allowance payments but her mother did not tell centrelink or change anything. Whether from neglect or greed is unsure. Centrelink eventually caught up and asked where is our money. Her mother basically stabbed her in the back and told her its her problem now. The debt was for 5000 odd dollars, and every few weeks we find another little error her mum has made putting my gf into another 100, 200 dollars debt here and there.
My gf is only 18, she is very, very sick at the moment and cannot work properly. And all this debt and stress is leading her to near suicide.
I have convinced her to call centrelink and change the receivers account to her own bank account to stop the money going to her mother. Her mother has rebelled and charged my gf with a huge rent fee of $120 and I have seen that house. Its in the ghetto of my town, there are 6 other tenants and the house is tiny.
Centrelink is deducting a small percentage of her payments now to pay back the debt, but its still unfair. She has seen her mothers various bank accounts most have a good 25,000 sitting in them untouched.
Morally speaking I believe her mother needs a good firm kick up the rear. What can we do legally speaking? Can we inform centrelink that the debt should be on the mother? Will they accept that? Or is it because the youth allowance was in my gfs name she has to pay regardless of the real receiver of the money?
She is only 18, and as I said very sick at the moment.
Oh that is awful and down right criminal; truly I empathise. Right now please go to the nearest Welfare rights centre and explain exactly what you have said here. You are not alone - this sort of thing does, sad to say happen. Your GF's rights and her very life is in the balance. Yhe most important thing is to protect her from any further harm.
Please go to welfare rights they will know exactly what to do. I wish you all the best in this and the other related matter. Be strong for her please, stay calm and get that urgent legal help. cheers
Hi Asaky, I work at the Australian Government Department of Human Services in a team that responds to enquiries about Centrelink on social media sites like this one.
Firstly, if your girlfriend believes the debt has been raised incorrectly, or that the amount is wrong, she can contact Centrelink on 13 6330 to discuss her options, or to simply get more info about the debt. There's also a really good Frequently Asked Questions page about debt repayments here.
If she thinks the decision is wrong, she has the right ask for a review by an Authorised Review Officer (ARO). There's more info about reviews and appeals here.
Finally, Social Workers are available to customers with difficult personal or family issues, and can help with referrals to community support services. Your girlfriend can give them a call on 13 1794.
She recieved a letter from Centrelink review officer saying:
You asked for that the decision to be reconsidered because you advise your mother was getting the money and that she should have advised of any changes
After carefully considering the information you have provided, I have concluded that the decision was correct and should not be changed.
The reason for my decision:
I made this decision because <NAME> only studied as a part-time student in Semester 1 2010 with TAFE and <NAME> did not study at all in Semester 2 2012
To be entitled to recieve student payments, you must be enrolled and undertaking atleast .75% of a full-time workload. Information recieved from TAFE, shows that you did not study full-time in Semester 1 2010. You advised that you did not study in Semester 2 2010.
It is the responsibility of the person who is legally entitled to recieve payments, to notify of any changes that may affect these payments as per s68 (2) SSAA. You were sent letters on <DATES>, which stated in part: To advise if changes to your study. These letters were addressed to you and you did not respond to the letters or advise of your changes. On <DATE> you were sent a letter stating that your course was ending and again you did not advise that you were not studying.
After considering all the available evidence I am satisified you were paid in excess of your entitlement and this means that the student debt is a legally recoverable debt.
She did not know a thing that she was on centrelink. She asked her mother about the letters and her mother said she would take care of them - Which did not happen. The letters meanings were unknown to her and her mother was the one who was advising centrelink of her changes. Including that she had STARTED TAFE in Semester 1 of 2010.
She accepts that she did not push herself (due to personal issues) and if she had known what was required of her, she would have pushed herself to do the required amount of time. And she will take on the responsibility that she should pay that amount back which she is doing by a deduction on her current Centrelink benefits. ($39.75 a fortnight from $265)
But, her mother did not inform Centrelink that she had stopped BUT ONLY informed that she had started. She has only just learned that this year that Centrelink was chasing her up for money.
Right now, money is a real issue for her as she has started seeing a spext for recent unknown/currently trying to figure out what is causing her to be so ill as well as seeing a counsellor for mental issues brought on in previous years by her mother + family. So, she does not know what to do right now and all these things as well as her current studies are becoming too hard for her to handle and still is near suicidal with all these problems.
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