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 March 2020.
Further detail about the scope of the inquiry is provided in the terms of reference.
Making a submission
Submissions were sought by 20 September 2019. The reporting date was 4 December 2019. On 18 September 2019, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until March 2020.
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.
The committee can 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.
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 after receiving a compliance letter from Centrelink
While the committee welcomes submissions from individuals about their experience of Centrelink debt collection practices, the committee does not have the ability to advise on, advocate for, or take action relating to individual cases.
If you are unsure about any information you have been given about a potential debt from Centrelink, or if you are having trouble doing what Centrelink asks, there is a Compliance Helpline 1800 086 400 you can call for help.
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 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: