Centrelink's compliance program

On 31 July 2019, the Senate referred an inquiry into Centrelink's compliance program to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 4 December 2019. On 18 September 2019, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 25 March 2020. On 13 February 2020, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 19 August 2020. In June 2020 the reporting date was extended to 2 December 2020, in November 2020 the reporting date was further extended to 12 May 2021, and in February 2021 it was extended again to 24 November 2021. On 23 November 2021, the Senate granted a further extension of time for reporting until the last sitting day in May 2022.

Further detail about the scope of the inquiry is provided in the terms of reference.

Inquiry update – November 2020

The committee tabled an interim report on 1 September 2020 to address evidence received about the operation and impact of the income compliance program in the first 12 months of the inquiry.

With a wide range of matters relating to the income compliance program's legality, implementation and impact still uncertain at the time of that interim report, the committee is continuing to pursue further evidence about these matters in the next phase of its inquiry.

The committee intends to hold further hearings for this inquiry in early 2021.

Although the date for new submissions, including supplementary submissions from organisations and individuals who have already provided evidence to the inquiry, has now passed, the committee will continue to consider new submissions. Submissions should address the terms of reference and the matters for further consideration outlined in Chapter 3 of the second interim report.

Making a submission

If you would like to make a submission, you may find it helpful to look at the guide for preparing a submission. It includes suggestions on what to include in a submission, a check list, and information about what happens to your submission once it has been received by the committee.

Submissions may be published on the internet

The committee can decide to receive submissions as public documents—which are published on the committee webpage. If your submission is published, the information in it, including your name, can be searched for on the internet.

You can ask for your submission to be confidential

The committee can also decide to receive submissions on a confidential basis or with your name and personal details withheld. If you do not want your submission to be publicly available, you can ask the committee to keep your submission confidential – please include the word confidential on the front of your submission as well as a reason for requesting confidentiality.

Getting help with a compliance debt or refund

While the committee welcomes submissions from individuals about their experiences of Centrelink's compliance program, it does not have the ability to advise on, advocate for, or take action relating to individual cases.

For assistance with your compliance debt or refund, please contact the services below:

  • If you are unsure about any information you have been given about a potential debt from Centrelink, if you are having trouble doing what Centrelink asks, or if you have questions about the refund process, you can contact Centrelink at 1800 086 400 for general compliance program help or 1800 171 846 for refund help.
  • If you want to know about the Robodebt Class Action, speak to Gordon Legal (https://gordonlegal.com.au/robodebt-class-action) for further information.
  • If you need legal advice, you can contact your local legal aid provider (www.nationallegalaid.org) or welfare rights organisation (www.nssrn.org.au).
  • If you need advice on a repaying debt to Centrelink, you can contact the National Debt Helpline (http://www.ndh.org.au/Debt-problems/Centrelink-debt or 1800 007 007) to talk with a financial counsellor for free.

If you want to talk with someone about the impact of the Centrelink compliance program on your mental health and wellbeing, you can contact one of the services below:

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515