The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has introduced a Private Member’s Bill that would allow Centrelink debts to be waived in cases of domestic or family violence.
WHERE: House of Representatives ( watch live at http://www.aph.gov.au/News_and_Events/Watch_Parliament )
“This bill would allow Centrelink to waive a debt when someone can’t repay it because they have been affected by domestic or family violence,” Mr Wilkie said.
“It would also mean that debts could be waived when someone has given false information because they have been affected by domestic or family violence. When some people have, for example, been coerced by an abusive partner to mispresent their income to Centrelink, this bill would allow for those debts to be waived.
“I was especially moved by a constituent who contacted me who was forced by an abusive partner to falsely claim to Centrelink that she was single. She now has a debt in the tens of thousands of dollars and there’s nothing she can do to have the debt reduced or waived.
“Of course this story is the tip of the iceberg. Indeed the scale of domestic and family violence is staggering – according to OurWatch, one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence and one in four have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner. Of those women who experience violence, more than half care for children.
“Often the last thing that people who have been affected by domestic or family violence need is a Centrelink debt hanging over their head.
“The Government’s focus on this issue is welcome but there is more that needs to be done. This bill would be a good next step in helping people who have been affected by domestic or family violence and I hope that the Government and Opposition will support it.”
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent for Denison