Why Australia’s Centrelink issue is a giant clusterfuck by Asher Wolf

These are the tweets from Asher Wolf about Centrelink and explaining her view to international followers. After consulting Asher via Direct Message I curated her tweets and am publishing them here first in english and then translating them into german for german readers in another story. The following are tweets you can also read here on Twitter on her profile.


Dear international followers: you may be wondering why I’ve been tweeting about a thing called “Centrelink” for the past fortnight… Let me explain:

Centrelink is an Australian agency that overseas social security payments. Centrelink is responsible for welfare benefits including veteran’s affairs payments, family tax benefit and unemployment support. Late last year the Turnbull government decided to cross-match individual’s data between the tax office and Centrelink. The gvt decided when person’s data didn’t match up they’d send out a letter requiring the Centrelink recipient to pay back money received. The government also removed human oversight over the data-matching system. This is known as project NEIDM. The NEIDM project plans to data-match 7 million individuals’ data & issue robo-debts, without oversight. Debts that are not payed to gvt in 21 days get referred to external debt collection agencies. The first debt letters relating to the NEIDM project went out just before Christmas, just as the gvt went on holidays. Immediately there was an outcry. Ppl who had handed in tax returns were getting debt notices.
Turns out the algorithm for project NEIDM has flaws. Big flaws.
By the gvt’s own admission, 20% of the ppl receiving debt notices do not have debts. Experts suggest the number of erroneously issued debts is much higher. Ppl are desperate and anxious. Highly vulnerable ppl have been caught up in the mess. They can’t get thru on phone lines to Centrelink, because Centrelink’s human workforce has been slashed.
Centrelink is responding to potentially suicidal individuals on social media by referring them to Lifeline. Lifeline is a telephone crisis counselling service staffed by volunteers. The Northern Territory doesn’t have a Lifeline service as the state government cut their funding. Ppl are also desperately contacting community legal centres, but these services also have had their funding slashed. 20k debt letters are going out per week. We know that 20% of those alleged debts are false — and the number is probably much much higher. The Centrelink disaster doesn’t just affect the poor. It affects anyone who’s received any form of social security between 2011–14. Families that earn under $100k p/year are eligible for Family Tax Benefit. The elderly are often eligible for the pension. Veterans affairs.
Basically, Australia’s Centrelink issue is a giant clusterfuck

Thanks Asher for explaining! I am adding here some more links I found via a search for those topics. If there is anything missing or if I have oversean things or links, please comment so I can add them.