Centrelink debts

Centrelink debts

This video provides basic legal information about getting legal help if you have a Centrelink debt. It is the part of a series of videos about the law for people who have recently arrived in Australia. See more videos at What's the law?

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Transcription

Text: Centrelink

An image shows of a suburban front yard.

[Vision changes to an image of a young couple in a homely kitchen. The man is in the foreground on his mobile phone while the woman is standing in the background at a kitchen bench.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: Centrelink? Hi this is Win-Aung Kunoo. I just got married and I’m now living with my wife.

[An image appears on the left-hand side of the screen of an middle-aged woman at Centrelink talking on the phone with Win-Aung Kunoo.]

Woman: Thanks for telling us. Your Newstart payments may change. Please write down this receipt number and keep it in a safe place.

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo smiling at his wife and then fades to black.]

[An image shows of Win-Aung Kunoo sitting on a couch marking a letter with a pen. His wife is walking into the lounge room with a laundry basket.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: Hey, we’re still getting the same money.

Wife: Must be OK because you called them.

[Vision fades to black.]

[An image shows of Win-Aung Kunoo speaking with his manager at a fresh produce market.]

Manager: Hey mate, can you work extra hours tomorrow?

Win-Aung Kunoo: Sure. I have to put in my Centrelink form first—can you tell me how many hours I wilI work? I have to tell them how much money I get each fortnight.

Manager: Not sure, probably around four hours.

Win-Aung Kunoo: OK, see you tomorrow.

[Vision fades to black.]

[An image shows of a suburban front yard.]

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo sitting at a computer desk.]

[Vision changes to a close up of a Centrelink form. The date, “23/06/11”, and hours of work, “4”, are filled in with black pen.]

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo greeting his wife in the kitchen.]

Wife: That was a long day!

Win-Aung Kunoo: Yeah, they needed me for nine hours—not four! I’m tired.

[Vision fades to black.]

Text: Six months later…

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo standing at the fresh-produce market.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: I really like this job, and we get cheap fruit and veggies.

[Vision changes to Win-Aung Kunoo opening a letter in the kitchen of his home.]

[Vision changes to Win-Aung Kunoo looking dismayed at the contents of the letter.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: They say I owe them $2,000.

Wife: That’s not right.

[A split-screen image shows of Win-Aung Kunoo talking on the phone with an older woman who sits at a computer desk.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: I don’t understand this letter.

Older woman: You owe Centrelink money. Centrelink checked with the Tax Office and you earned more money than you declared on your forms. Also, you didn’t tell Centrelink you were married so you have been overpaid on Newstart.

Win-Aung Kunoo: But I did tell Centrelink I was married. It’s your mistake…and each week my hours change, so I never know how much I’ll be paid.

Older woman: It’s your responsibility to give us the correct information Mr Kunoo.

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo’s wife addressing Win-Aung Kunoo.]

Wife: Maybe you should call Legal Aid? I know they help with legal problems.

[Vision fades to black.]

[Vision changes to an image of the reception of Legal Aid through glass doors. A sign on the door reads “Legal Aid Lawyers And Services”.]

[A split-screen image shows of a woman from Legal Aid talking on the phone with Win-Aung Kunoo. The woman is sitting at a desk in an office while Win-Aung Kunoo sits at his computer desk.]

[Win-Aung Kunoo: Can you help me with a Centrelink problem?]

Woman: I’ll give you the number of a free legal service that helps with Centrelink problems.

Win-Aung Kunoo: Thanks.

[Vision changes to an image of an interview room. A sign reads “435 Interview room”.]

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo sitting at a round table with a woman. The woman has a notebook open and is pointing a pen at Win-Aung Kunoo’s Centrelink letter.]

Woman: You have been overpaid because you did not tell Centrelink about all your income from work.

[Vision changes to an image of a pay slip for “Ben’s Fresh Fruit and Vegie Galore”. The pay slip sits on top of a Centrelink declaration form.]

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo looking imploringly across the round table.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: But I never know how much I will be paid!

[Vision changes to an image of the woman looking across the table at Win-Aung Kunoo.]

Woman: We can ask Centrelink to change your pay date so that you put your forms in after you get paid.

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo looking imploringly across the round table.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: And they said I didn’t tell them I was married. I did tell them.

[Vision changes to an image of the woman looking across the table at Win-Aung Kunoo.]

Woman: Do you have a receipt number for the phone call?

Win-Aung Kunoo: Yes, here it is. Lucky I kept it.

Woman: What did you tell them? Did you know you were being overpaid?

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo looking imploringly across the round table.]

[Win-Aung Kunoo: I told them I got married and moved in with my wife. I thought they must be paying me the right amount.]

[Vision changes to an image of the woman looking across the table at Win-Aung Kunoo.]

Woman: I will talk to Centrelink about whether they can cancel part of the debt.

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo smiling across the table.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: Thanks for your help.

[Vision changes to an image of the woman looking across the table at Win-Aung Kunoo.]

Woman: No worries. It’s my job to help people with Centrelink problems.

[Vision fades to black.]

Text: A few weeks later…

[A split-screen image shows of Win-Aung Kunoo talking on his mobile phone to the woman from Legal Aid. The woman is in an office while Win-Aung Kunoo sits in his kitchen.]

Woman: I’ve got good news. Centrelink has agreed to reduce the debt to $600. Can you afford to pay $20 a week?

[Vision changes to an image of Win-Aung Kunoo smiling at his wife.]

Win-Aung Kunoo: That’s fantastic! Thank you.