The National Union of Students Welfare and Education departments have called a joint demonstration at South Melbourne Centrelink for Friday the 27th of January.
The Centrelink automated debt recovery system is an attack on Centrelink recipients, with many cases of unfair debt notices. Centrelink employees have been told to ignore problems when they find them, revealing the intentions of this system, which is to collect money from the poor and vulnerable. NUS condemns the issuing of fake debt and demands the immediate cessation of the system.
Students already suffer under the stress of living on $30 a day, and receiving a false debt notice causes undue anxiety. “Students will be gathering at 8:30am on Friday morning to protest the ongoing attack on their welfare. The government is set on collecting fake debt, at the same time as cutting funding to higher education” said education officer Anneke Demanuele “the Liberals are making it obvious what they prioritise and it’s not the lives of ordinary people and students.”
Attendees of the demonstration will be bringing their debt notices to burn to show their anger towards the automated debt recovery system.
“We have been overwhelmed with horror stories of student experiences with Centrelink. Our #NotMyDebt survey revealed that 58% of students who received a debt notice were not actually in debt. This just demonstrates how the system is flawed and how it directly targets the innocent and vulnerable” said Jill Molloy. “And now this government’s automated system will begin to target those on disability and aged pensions- it’s sickening”.
The NUS Welfare Department has launched a campaign titled Your Rights at Work, Uni & Home. This is currently focused on Centrelink and student experiences with it. At present, there is a petition titled #FixCentrelinkNow that lists a number of demands including scrapping the automated system, ending the pay delays and changing the age of independence to 18.
NUS has organised national demonstrations for the 22nd of March to protest against the government policy of cuts to higher education funding, against ongoing restructures on university campuses and to demand a fairer Centrelink system.
Rally details: 8:30 am, 27th of January
Centrelink South Melbourne - 94 York St, South Melbourne VIC 3205