Victoria Legal Aid

The time for action is now – reforming social security post-Robodebt

The federal government has accepted 56 recommendations in full or in principle from the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.

Monday 13 November 2023 6:08am

Our critical message to the government as it moves to reform our social security system is to listen to the voices of people with lived experience.

The agencies and legal services that work with them must also collectively continue to be engaged as the long process of implementation rolls out.

The government on Monday accepted all the formal recommendationsExternal Link of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme, which delivered its final report in July.

'The only way to truly learn from robodebt is for us to rebuild trust and hope into our social security system so that it works for the people it is meant to support,' said Victoria Legal Aid CEO Louise Glanville.

'We heard during the commission that Robodebt was allowed to continue for too long and concerns weren't heeded.

'To effectively implement these much-needed social security reforms, we must centre the knowledge and experience of those who know the system, both the individuals and the organisations that work day-in and day-out to support them.

'It is essential all those who worked to dismantle this unlawful scheme have a seat at the table,' Louise said.

Services that work for the people they are meant to serve

On behalf of clients Madeleine Masterton and Deanna Amato, we successfully challenged the lawfulness of Robodebt in the Federal Court in 2019, as part of the broader community campaign that ultimately brought the scheme to an end.

We welcome the government's recognition of the role legal aid commissions and community legal centres play in ensuring laws work as intended, as the review into the National Legal Assistance PartnershipExternal Link continues.

Among the other recommendations by government is a commitment to ethical and proportionate debt recovery, publication of decisions by the Admininstrative Appeals Tribunal and improved accountability, including increased funding and powers for the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

The government has accepted in principle the recommendation to establish a customer experience reference group.

We reiterate how crucial the oversight of, and partnership with, people directly affected by the system is for implementation.

'The courage, advice and advocacy of people directly affected by the system ultimate brought Robodebt to a close and it is crucial that their input helps shape reform,' said Louise.

Media enquiries

Please contact Acting Media, Communications and Engagement Manager Crys Ja at crys.ja@vla.vic.gov.au or 0457 483 780.

Reviewed 13 November 2023