(NOTE: As the quote below clearly highlights, dealing with Centrelink is like having sex with an AIDS infected person; you need to take EXTREME precautions if you want to survive the encounter. Advice on how to do this will be posted in the next blog.)
“Centrelink does not collect ‘Post Breaching Terminal Outcome Statistics’ and is therefore unable to assist with your request for this information.”
The unreported breaching triggered fatalities are a prime example of how Centrelink has recklessly endangered welfare recipients with the result that an unknown number have been killed. Unfortunately, that is not the only activity that has resulted and thoughtless and totally preventable fatalities.
Blaming the victim simply does not cut the mustard, especially when this leads to preventable fatalities. It is even far less acceptable when Paragraph 1,237a of the Social Security Act is deliberately not implemented and the fatalities that result from this activity, like breaching triggered fatalities, are also deliberately concealed. As with Breaching fatalities, for they are unreported by Centrelink’s management because they involve fraud and consequently they are homicides!
For insight into the brazen and open way in which the 6 Week Rule scam is worked by Centrelink, check out the following LETTER OF DEMAND that is sent to unsuspecting victims. Please note the redacted (blacked out) information protects the identity of the victim.
- In court, a half truth is perjury, i.e. it is treated as a lie. Check out the “Why is this amount payable?” box and look at the statement “We are, therefore, required to recover this amount.”
- That is a highly misleading and fraudulent statement, for paragraph 1,237a of the Social Security Act makes it quite clear that if the overpayments were due to Centrelink error, then 100% of the debt must be waived if not discovered within 6 weeks.
- The letter is nothing more than deceitful bureaucratic bullying that is intended to coerce welfare recipients into making payments that they may not have to repay.
QUESTION #1: How many financially impoverished people never repaid the alleged Centrelink debt because they died shortly after receiving such a letter?
QUESTION #2: How is it that huge debts accumulated, e.g. over $20,000 over a period of almost 10 years before Centrelink even discovered the over-payment? That such huge over-payments arose is a systemic problem and the role played by Centrelink in allowing such huge debts to arise is in itself probably a serious case of Contributory Negligence!
QUESTION #3: Who, in the name of ‘Sound Economic Management’, gutted the DSS of its most experienced personnel in 1996-97 and left Centrelink without the key staff who had the critical knowledge and expertise needed to prevent hundreds of thousands of errors that have now resulted in billions of dollars in over-payments being made to welfare recipients?
With the ‘old lags’ chucked out (made redundant) by John Howard when Centrelink was being set up, some of Centrelink’s less ethical staff had free reign in dumping on welfare recipients and ripping them off by intimidating them into making repayments that the law clearly specified did not have to made. Unfortunately, sometimes this stand-over merchant type of bureaucratic thuggery resulted in fatalities. Absolving themselves of responsibility, these bureaucratic thugs simply moved on and picked the next hapless victim.
(A) Perpetrators of crimes have to assume responsibility for the health of the people that they victimize. (Do the crime – do the time!)
For example, if a person has a fatal heart attack whilst fleeing from a rapist, mugger or baseball bat wielding racist thug, the death would be considered a homicide, not a natural death. In my blog feedback files are the details of a man who was allegedly hounded to death by Centrelink. If a review of that fatality were to reveal that the 6 Week Rule had been ignored and the stress caused by the unlawful demands of Centrelink officials to have the debt repaid had triggered that death, it would mean that this fatality is a Homicide, i.e. an unlawful death, which in South Australia would mean that it is a Felony Murder. The “mathematics” of this logic are simple: Unlawful demand + hyper-stress = fatal stoke, i.e. a homicide.
(B) On 1st April 2002, Tony Abbott and Senator Amanda Vanstone released the 2002 Welfare Reform Discussion Paper.
Paragraph 47 of this document described a welfare allowance as “a targeted payment to financially impoverished people for the purpose of assisting these people to meet their most basic living costs.”
A significant legal issue with the ”financially impoverished” statement is that it clearly identified welfare recipients as a societal sub-group of “At-risk” people who needed to be handled with extreme care. For these people who daily live with the huge stress of struggling to survive, the traumatic shock of opening a letter from Centrelink and finding a letter of demand requesting the repayment of thousands of dollars is in itself a grossly reckless and dangerous act that could easily trigger a fatal heart attack or stroke! The possibility that people living on the edge could be pushed too far and take their own life is also an easily foreseen consequence of this sort of legalistic thuggery.
Simply finding the debt and billing a financially impoverished person is not an appropriate response for it totally ignores Centrelink’s culpability through administrative negligence in allowing such a debt to arise. Clearly, paragraph 1,237a needs to be modified to cap debt at levels that recognize Centrelink’s failure rapidly identify over-payments caused by clients either providing inaccurate information or in failing to provide any information.
Why should welfare recipients cop all the blame, and the financial cost, just because John Howard gutted the DSS and left his new creation, Centrelink, without the critical core base of personnel needed to train up adequate staff numbers to levels of competency that ensured that 200,000 errors a year did not occur. Gutting the DSS was grossly irresponsible and therefore CULPABILITY for over-payments is as much the blame of Centrelink as it is that of Centrelink. Consequently, all demands for repayment not covered by the 6 Week Rule should automatically carry a 50% Centrelink lack of Due Diligence liability, i.e. 50% of the debt should be waived.
For readers who believe that that last paragraph is over the top, I would remind you that if welfare recipients appeal the debt beyond the Administrative Appeals process and force the issue into the courts, it is highly probably that the courts WILL apportion blame for the debt, and given the crass stupidity of the Howard Government in gutting the DSS of key staff, Centrelink’s ‘apportionment of the blame’ could be far higher than 50%, especially if the court also factors in the following points:
(C) The 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey of Australians.
ABS Media release on literacy levels in adults. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4228.0Media%20Release12006%20%28Reissue%29?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4228.0&issue=2006%20%28Reissue%29&num=&view=
|November 28, 2007||Embargoed 11.30 am (AEDT)||121/2007|
The clear evidence in survey was that many of Centrelink’s clients are functionally illiterate and unable to comprehend the mass of bureaucratic obligations the are heaped upon them by Centrelink.
The very obvious flow-on implication is that large numbers of Centrelink’s clients WILL make mistakes and errors of omission and therefore one of Centrelink’s ‘Due Diligence Obligations’ to these clients is to ensure that large debts do not occur! Give these well-known literacy problems which are summarized below, when large debts occur, blaming illiterate or semi-literate for these errors is totally inappropriate because Centrelink’s own Due Diligence Obligations to these people have clearly not been met.
The 2006 Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey of Australians aged 15 to 74 years assessed prose literacy (e.g. ability to read newspapers), document literacy (e.g. ability to use bus schedules) as well as numeracy and problem solving skills, and the ability to understand health related information (e.g. first aid advice).
Approximately 2.5 million of people were assessed at the lowest prose literacy level… while 2.7 million were assessed at the lowest document literacy level.
Level 1 (lowest) to Level 5 (highest)
- Level 1 – People at this level have very poor skills, and could be expected to experience considerable difficulties in using many of the printed materials that may be encountered in daily life. Some people at this level display the ability to locate a single piece of information in a relatively short piece of text, to enter a piece of information onto a document, or to perform simple arithmetic operations using numbers provided. However, Level 1 also includes those who could not successfully complete such tasks.
- Level 2 – People at this level could be expected to experience some difficulties in using many of the printed materials encountered in daily life. While they would be able to use some printed material, this would generally be relatively simple, short and clearly structured, or require simple arithmetic operations to be performed on numbers that are easily determined from the source text.
ATTENTION CRAIG THOMSON: If the 7 Network is to be believed, between May 2011 and April 2012, this scam may have resulted in the Gillard Government successfully defrauding welfare recipients of some $200 MILLION. That is what Wayne Swan refers to as “A fair go”, i.e. a fair go at ripping off welfare recipients
NOTE: The shortlink URL for this blog is: http://wp.me/p1n8TZ-7E
Ronald Medlicott (Christian advocate of welfare justice..