Can I expect a Centrelink refund?

Q. Stuart
Please help me to stop wondering whether Centrelink will do the right thing and is intending to refund all monies collected from welfare recipients through the inaccurate robodebt scheme. It’s especially urgent to us now, considering that they are having to financially assist the unemployed due to COVID-19 pandemic. My email to Centrelink has had no response whatsoever. I believe I am owed between $800 to $900.

A. The government has announced that it will refund all of the $720 million that it raised through the robo-debt scheme.

“Services Australia will now put in place the mechanisms needed to start making refunds, including how affected customers are advised of next steps,” Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said after making the announcement.

“Consultation will occur with stakeholders, including the commonwealth ombudsman, and clear communication is a priority, so people understand what it means for them.”

Repayments are expected to begin from 1 July and continue throughout the 2020-21 financial year.

Australians with an outstanding debt “don’t need to do anything” – as payments will be processed automatically.

More than 190,000 Australians who have up to date details can expect to receive the overpayments from 1 July.

A class action is also being pursued over the robo-debt matter.

Under court orders issued in March, the government has been told to identify all potential class action members and send out notices via MyGov or by post about the upcoming court challenge by 25 May.

So, if you are eligible to join the court challenge you should have received notification and, according to reports in The Guardian, around 400,000 welfare debts were unlawfully issued under the scandal-ridden program.

Under Australian law, even if you have not registered to take part in the class action, you will be considered part of the action unless you specifically choose to opt out and pursue your own individual claim.

Anyone who has received a notice from the government informing them about the upcoming court challenge can still register to join the class action. You can find more information at

The firm will continue to pursue the class action claim, even though the Government has decided to offer refunds.

“There’s the question of all the other losses, including in some cases horrific psychological, personal and financial harm people suffered as a consequence of this, which itself adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars,” lawyer Peter Gordon explained.

Are you joining the class action against robo-debt?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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