|The unsual Mordoch reporting on welfare recipients|
CEO of Centrelink, Katheryn Campbell, was questioned today at the senate inquiry into the robodebt disaster; of at least one person in the community has suicided over.
She has blamed welfare recipients for the mess whilst defending the system, saying that there have been a large number of welfare recipients who haven't engaged with Centrelink over the debt letters. Failing to mention of course that it can be just about impossible to get through on the phone to Centrelink and at times their internet site at MyGov simply doesn't work. Or that many people likely doubt they have any debt at all but are unwilling to bash their heads against a Centrelink wall.
Campbell also blamed the media for reporting on robodebt letter mistakes, saying that people therefore lost faith in the whole process and didn't bother following the letters up. Nothing said about the constant Murdoch demonisation of those on welfare in the media, but yet much of the Murdoch press was supportive of welfare recipients and not Centrelink.
More has come to light during today. The tax office for example wasn't even consulted to assist Centrelink with data matching. Unbelievably, the ATO offered their assistance in December when the media storm erupted over robodebt, but Centrelink declined. And she blames the public for the debacle FFS!
Centrelink was relying on addresses it held on its own records, not the electoral roll, to target people who had stopped receiving benefits years ago.
Campbell blamed the problems with the system on a failure of welfare recipients to engage with those letters or other communications from the department.
“I think what we underestimated was how many people would not clarify, and would not engage, and so I think if I was to sum up what the problem has been it is that, when we wrote those initial letters, that recipients and former recipients didn’t engage,” Campbell said.
“Now a small part of that, 6,600, was because they didn’t know anything about it. But there was a large proportion of people who didn’t engage with us through those initial letters.”
Campbell said a pilot of the program conducted early last year did not suggest that was likely to be a problem.
Centrelink, in changes announced last month, now uses registered post to ensure the letters are being received.
Campbell also said media reporting of the “robo debt” system in the lead-up to Christmas had caused distress to individuals and led them to believe they had been wrongly targeted.
Earlier, tax office officials said they were not approached by the Department of Human Services over the new system before it was launched.
The tax office asked the department whether it could help with the system in December, when problems began to publicly emerge, but was rebuffed. It later met with the department in February. The Guardian