Centrelink boss wants you to contact him personally with your complaints

If you’ve ever had any dealings with Centrelink (or have tried to) you might be familiar with the feelings of
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If you’ve ever had any dealings with Centrelink (or have tried to) you might be familiar with the feelings of frustration or being ‘just another number’ because according to the man heading up the Government department it’s quite common.

According to Hank Jongen, the general manager of the Department of Human Services that runs Centrelink, while you’re often issued with letters from the organisation demanding you return money you either weren’t entitled to or were overpaid there are also those who are feeling “lost in the system” and he’s encouraging you to get in touch.

So committed to easing the pain you are experiencing in your interactions with Centrelink, Jongen has even released his personal email address — hank@humanservices.gov.au.

The reason Jongen has taken this bold step is due to the rollout of a new system that assesses your income and determines your eligibility for welfare payments.

In an effort to refine the processes in place, the system seems to have incorrectly detected disparities with some welfare recipients and has issued them with letters accusing them of welfare fraud.

According to the ABC, Jongen has revealed that the number of letters issued since the system was put in place six months ago has risen from 20,000 per year to 20,000 each week!

Earlier this year, Starts at 60 community member Fran wrote about her dealings with Centrelink.

“I have been out of work for two years now and when the Census was being done I managed to get fieldwork because most young people did not want to do it. I worked bloody hard for a month and believe me, I earned the money I got,” Fran says.

She says she did the “right thing” in reporting it to Centrelink and even had to do it three times, but somehow still ended up in a frustrating conversation trying to get the organisation to understand her situation and income.

Instead of being able to speak to a ‘human’ resource about your letter, you were pushed on to the Centrelink website to resolve your issue but it was found to be lacking and this has only served to increase your frustrations.

Jongen acknowledges your frustrations and hopes that by making himself available your issues can be resolved much faster.

Have you had any dealings with Centrelink? Share your experience with us.

  1. MD  

    I am a 70 years old age pensioner who’s a serious issue with Catrelink. It started in November 2015 and still not finished satisfactory. The problem is that C/link cannot find a record back to 2012 when I inherited an 80-90 years old property I didn’t want to move into in and I went to the C/link to ask what can or what cannot do in this case.
    I was told: if it wasn’t on my name, there is nothing to talk about. Satisfied with the officer’s advice I went through all official steps and the property was registered on my son’s name, who used to live there anywhy and I forgot the whole thing. 3-4 years later I became guilty, I got a huge punishment for a crime I never committed. I was told I was overpaid almost $ 30,000 and I have to pay back. I tried to seek help from different places such as family lawyer, member of Parliament, GP, but nobody was able to help me because they didn’t know anything about Social Security law , they just wonder why was the property my asset if it never ever was on my name. And at the other hand if I got a wrong advice from a professional employee in 2012 why didn’t they make correction immediately.
    Beside the punishment my pension was almost completely suspended.
    During the past 14 months I had at least 5 different meetings, for the first tribunal a 197 pages report from Centrelink back to 2012 to read, an other 370 pages for the second hearing to read. They are full of errors and mistakes, but it didn’t help me. I was told last time, they believe I reported to the Centrelink my inheritance, they believe I got wrong advice, no matter what, the property was my asset so I was overpaid and I have to pay back.
    Now I had some discount, but I was told the punishment lasts for 5 years, i.e. I cannot get back my basic pension till October 2017.

    • Marjorie Triffitt  

      This email address for the General Manger of Centrelink is incorrect. I have tried to send him a message and it is unable to be sent.

    • meh  

      MD – I feel so sad for you. I hope you are managing ok until this is sorted out. Co-incidentally, I was reading the back of a ‘updated’ blank Will form today (the type for sale in newsagents) and it mentions a similar scenario. ie. future bequest may affect a recipients pension. What a mess this modern world! My hope is that the Estate is helping to clear this up, or the ‘actual’ beneficiary (son). Any taxes or costs surely covered by deceased Estate? I hope someone reads your comments and can help clear you of any wrong doing, and you receive entitlements asap.

    • Pamela  

      MD, unfortunately it is too late now, but my suggestion is to always get any information/directive in writing so you are covered for any future contingencies!

  2. Racheal  

    I have three boys one with a disability centrelink stop my carers payment in march 2015 they should not have and I had 350 to survive on a week I appeal in January 2016 and I won the case centrelink backpay my carers but only paid me half the payment back i have centrelink statements from them saying how much they owe me and when I show them they say we can not pay you the half now I think that is so wrong to do that to a family it’s two years now and they still don’t want to even though I have the proof

    • Pamela  

      Rachael, I suggest you get your local member of parliament to look into it for you.

      I have been doing that for a few issues I have had and thankfully, they have all been resolved.

  3. Kay Feain  

    I receive a disability pension for a series of health issues and love to work where and when I can.
    Five years ago I walked out of an emotionally abusive marriage and returned to Melbourne. The local Centrelink branch was most objectionable treating me as one whom they didn’t wish to assist. I was very emotional but strong enough to report them.
    I was to visit them on another 2 occasions receiving the same treatment so I reported them another 2 times.
    I was then contacted by the State Manager by phone and mail apologising for the Branch Manager’s behaviour. I then receives a letter from Centrelink advising that I would be provided with a phone number and email address to contact Centrelink in future and never be required to present in person to any Branch. I have had no trouble with Centrelink since I lodged these complaints. I send an email and receive a call from a person (with a name and ID ) who responds to my query. They will often do follow up on my behalf.

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