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Government using commission only private debt collectors for automated debt recovery program

The Senate inquiry into the Centrelink debt recovery process has revealed that the Government is paying private debt collectors commission only to rake back potentially incorrect automated debts from former Centrelink recipients.

“I have to ask why is the Government paying private debt collectors commission only to retrieve Centrelink debts? Do they think it will result in more money being raked back? This might go a long way to explain the accounts we’ve heard of overzealous private debt collectors in pursuing potentially incorrect debts.

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Government turns its back on people with disability and refuses to hold a Royal Commission into disability abuse, violence and neglect

The Government has officially announced it will not hold a Royal Commission into abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability in institutional settings, despite it being recommended in a senate committee report tabled nearly a year and half ago.

“A range of recommendations compiled with extensive consultation to address systemic abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability across the country has been effectively dismissed by the Government, or as they like to put it, ‘noted’.

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DHS trawling social media to find Centrelink complaints only to intimidate recipients is huge concern: Greens

“It is deeply concerning that DHS staff have been trawling through social media to find people complaining about Centrelink to provide to the Minister”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.  

“They’re then taking these complaints and rather than seeking to remedy them, and might release your personal details to ‘correct the record’ to protect the ‘public confidence’ and ‘integrity’ of the social security system.

"The department confirmed they keep an eye on traditional media but to trawl social media is a new development that raises strong concerns.

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ANAO report highlights failures of DHS compliance measures and recent events show it’s getting worse: Greens

An Australian National Audit Office report shows a dysfunctional crackdown on the social safety net before the large scale automated debt recovery system even begun, with saving targets not even met in most cases.

“Anyone taking a flick through the ANAO report can see that an erosion of the social safety net has been going on for some time and that the approach has long been in disarray”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

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Greens Senator Rachel Siewert responds to Government leaking Centrelink recipient details to media

“It is extremely concerning that the Government has willingly and openly given media the personal details of a Centrelink recipient and will do so again to those who dare to speak out about the automated debt recovery system.

"This has huge implications for the privacy of those on income support and receiving other payments from Government.

“The effort the Government has put into 'correcting the record' for media should go to correcting thousands of incorrect debts.

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Debt collectors posing as Government department just another line of deceit

A report of a debt collection agency portraying itself as a Government department is just another underhanded and nasty tactic being used as part of the Government’s automated debt recovery program, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“We have heard many times about how aggressive the debt collectors are being to struggling Australians that have accessed the social safety net in the last six years.

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Senator Brandis, pick up the phone and call Centrelink

“Senator Brandis: step out of your ivory tower, and attempt to call Centrelink. Be prepared for a wake-up call”,  Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

“This is the struggle being experienced by constituents that you are meant to represent.

“I have personally witnessed my constituents wait for hours trying to get through to Centrelink. People dealing with Centrelink are exasperated and stressed.

“Hundreds of people have emailed and called my office to detail their experiences. I can assure you that the system is almost impossible to navigate.

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‘Improvements’ for debt recovery system just fiddling around the edges: Greens

The Government’s announcement of ‘improvements’ to the debt recovery system are fiddling around the edges and do not address the fundamental issues of the Centrelink automated debt recovery system, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today. 

“Making an awful clunky system that lacks proper human oversight slightly more user friendly is not going to stop the fact that thousands of struggling Australians are being issued with debts that they do not have. Why should people have to navigate a slightly improved system when they shouldn’t be navigating it at all?

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Greens will oppose Omnibus Bill

The Australian Greens today said they will oppose the Government’s Omnibus Bill in its entirety.

“The Australian Greens will be opposing this bill in its entirety. The measures in the Bill will hurt struggling Australians to support.

“The threat that the social safety net cuts are necessary to pay for childcare reforms and the NDIS shows their spiteful and ham-fisted approach to our most vulnerable.

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Child mortality no longer on track as Government continues rhetoric to close the gap

The Close the Gap report now showing that child mortality rates are not on track is a dismal reflection on the Government’s half-hearted and under-funded attempts to end Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage.

“One of the targets is on track to Close the Gap for our First Peoples. Just one. How has the Government let it get to this stage?

“I have witnessed many Closing the Gap reports in my time as a Senator but this year’s report is particularly devastating. Unfortunately it is not surprising.  

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