Between July 2015 and November 2019 more than 300,000 Australians received robodebts from Centrelink, which were unlawful. This occurred when the Australian Government used a new automation system to pursue people they suspected of welfare fraud. Private debt collectors were contracted to chase these illegal debts.
This huge bungle means that the government now has to pay back more than $720 million dollars that was illegally taken from vulnerable people who had done nothing wrong. Attorney-General Christian Porter, who was the social services minister when this program was rolled out, has refused to apologise for the extreme stress he has caused the people affected by this disaster.
Scott Morrison, under pressure from the Labor Party, gave a half-hearted apology, saying he “would apologise for any hurt or harm in the way that the Government has dealt with that issue and to anyone else who has found themselves in those situations.”
The government has not ruled out using a system like robodebt in future and is refusing to audit pre-2015 debts, some of which they have admitted may have been unlawful.
Gordon Legal is running a class action seeking interest and damages for people affected by robodebt. The class action commenced in the Federal Court in 2019 and is set for trial between July and September this year.
If you have received a letter from your MyGov account with an opt out notice, then Centrelink considers you to be a group member of the class action. To remain a group member no action is required. To opt out, follow the instructions in the opt out notice. Gordon Legal strongly advises people to not opt out, as this will forfeit their right to any benefits arising from the class action, such as potential damages paid.
If you think you or a family member have been affected by an illegal robodebt, please find more information and register with Gordon Legal.
This story was originally published in Libby's June Newsletter. Please click here to subscribe to the email newsletter.Share Tweet