Centrelink system ‘simply too hard’

Many Swan Hill recipients have voiced their concerns over Centrelink.

Many Swan Hill recipients have voiced their concerns over Centrelink.

Another disgruntled Centrelink recipient has raised concerns about the agency after reading a Guardian article published last week.

Jack Devereux is a 62-year-old machinery operator who often works on short term contracts.

He received a Centrelink debt letter in October just two weeks before he was due to marry and said not only was the debt a huge shock but the process that followed turned into a nightmare.

“I am basically computer illiterate,” he said.

“So using the online service in itself has been a big challenge plus I don’t own a printer.”

Living 25 minutes from Swan Hill, Mr Devereux said visiting the Centrelink office was both time consuming and costly.

Bouncing between different staff on the phone, he finally found himself at breaking point.

“After one call I just broke down,” he said.

“I actually cried and that is something I’ve not done since my mother died.”

But then he decided to focus on problem solving and came up with a suggestion for Centrelink.

“It occurred to me if they put a space on the group certificate to allow for the dates actually worked with each employer, then Centrelink would receive the information they needed to do an accurate calculation.

“As it was, I had to ring around to multiple past employers and some of them were annoyed at having to chase it up because they believed they hadn’t done anything wrong either.

“A simple box to add the worked period would mean Centrelink could calculate accurately each year and avoid this stress and running around.”

For people having difficulty with a Centrelink debt letter Mallee Family Care can offer support. Contact 5023 5966 or call Centrelink's direct line on 1800 050 004.

To read more about this story, grab a copy of Friday's Guardian (February 17).

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