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Prosecutions. Before we start. Disclaimer(s ) We don’t do prosecution work as we’re not criminal lawyers Sarcasm warning Questions/queries Presentation style Clip Art. A cautionary tale. Worked for multinational for 7 years Was packaged out Did a Certificate IV in Aged Care

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Presentation Transcript

Before we start

  • Disclaimer(s)
  • We don’t do prosecution work as we’re not criminal lawyers
  • Sarcasm warning
  • Questions/queries
  • Presentation style
  • Clip Art

A cautionary tale

  • Worked for multinational for 7 years
  • Was packaged out
  • Did a Certificate IV in Aged Care
  • Offered job @ Oldies home where she did her ‘prac’
  • !!

A few ways to reduce the chances of prosecution

  • #1:
  • Police records: Avoiding them
  • How can you avoid getting a police record?
  • The best way to avoid a record is by staying out of trouble!

#2 Time!!

  • The sooner something is stopped the better
  • Effectively once there’s a year of incorrect information you’re working towards a prosecution
  • Payment advice info: (Tribunal case killer) : there’s a presumption that these are read – 14 days to fix!

#3 – Rectification

  • Single line letters
  • State now – as little about the past as possible
  • Wait and See
  • You won’t have to wait 19 years!!

#4 – Ambiguous issues

  • Membership of a couple
  • Dependency of children
  • “Matters of opinion”
  • Clear documentation
  • Evidence of alternative ‘lodgings’ (not ‘Mum’s’ or ‘back of the shop’ etc) – mailing address!

Areas less likely to be problematic :

  • FTB – not ever heard of a FTB income prediction prosecution
  • Where’s there’s clear admin error – on the file – not processed
  • Still debt!

The ‘invitation to tell your side of the story’

  • This is not when your client has been ‘served’ – it’s too late then! Call – Commonwealth Entitlement’s Clinic
  • This letter usually arrives 4 weeks after a debt – it invites client to an interview
  • No-one has ever been glad they did

Conspiracy theories 1

  • The ‘don’t need to report letter’
  • Then raise a debt
  • Then do a prosecution
  • Ignore the whole ‘don’t need to report’ issue

Conspiracy Theory 2

  • The Tax Return
  • Centrelink asks for Tax returns but then never do anything with them.
  • People erroneously believe this meets their income reporting requirements by providing these tax returns
  • It doesn’t
  • People end up with debts

Conspiracy Theory III

  • This is not as bad as it used to be
  • Double provision of income details – particularly for Parenting Payment/FTB clients. Providing the info for one is not providing the info for the other!

A few gentle reminders of the reality (something sometimes ‘missed’..)

  • Centrelink clients are amongst the poorest people in Australia
  • Centrelink debts are rarely ‘entirely’ the client’s fault
  • Centrelink’s income reporting system can be @ best described as ‘specifically designed to make debt avoidance as difficult as possible’
  • The law presumes that a client can provide quality assurance of Centrelink’s systems, which if it wasn’t serious would be funny

There are significant ‘myths’ in the Centrelink debt collection system about clientele’s ability to repay, why they should (and the priority they should put on it) and what will happen if they don’t that would equate to the tooth fairy being an actual recognised health professional


Referrals & things to look for 1

  • SSRV is happy to take referrals in most circumstances
  • What matters the most is paperwork
  • If a person has been issued with a prosecution notice they should call the Commonwealth Entitlements Clinic @ VLA ASAP

Referrals etc 2

  • Paperwork – debt notices, any other stuff
  • Ignore ‘debt calculations’
  • Anything that raises ambiguities – i.e. unheard of employers etc
  • Any evidence of reporting etc
  • Employment or other relevant info
  • Apps etc printouts

Things that indicate a possible debt etc

  • Someone not on full payment for any obvious reason (e.g. not work, single etc)
  • Constantly being hassled by Centrelink debt collectors (not on pay or very big debt)
  • Being told they can’t apply for Centrelink ‘because they’ve got a debt’
  • O/S returning students!

Clarifying issues/Qs to ask

  • Whether the debt notice ‘makes sense’ (& if not, why not)
  • Nature, time & reporting of income
  • When situation changed (membership of couple, asset purchase etc) & changed again (i.e. ended)
  • 3rd party statutory evidence available:
  • Banks, Vic Police, ATO, leases, VicRoads etc (noting presumed understanding)

FOI – value & less value

  • (My) Current issue
  • As specific as possible
  • Reporting, any info from 3rd parties (employer, ATO etc)
  • Ad hoc file info – if it’s in here, Centrelink are stuck with it!