One of the detrimental design features of the Program is the inclusion of an automatic procedure that is triggered in the event of a non-response from a welfare recipient. If a Centrelink recipient fails to respond to DHS in person or online, or if they do not provide sufficient supporting documentation or information, the system automatically substitutes these information gaps with a fortnightly income figure derived from income data held by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for the relevant employment period.

The Government’s own data shows that thousands of debts have been generated in error, with approximately one in five debts having been incorrect or waived. It can be assumed that a high number of debts have simply been paid because people have been unable to provide all the supporting documentation and evidence that is required (retrospectively) by Centrelink.


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Committee: Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs

Title: Inquiry into Centrelink’s Compliance Program