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Sooo the Centrelink Twitter account is now referring indebted Aussies to Lifeline

Amongst the whirlwind of controversy surrounding Centrelink’s new automated debt collection methods, the government department has taken to Tweeting the contact info for Lifeline to indebted Aussies.

centrelink

In the wave of controversy surrounding their new debt collection methods Centrelink has taken to Tweeting the contact info for Lifeline to indebted Aussies.

Centrelink has been sending out around  20,000 debt-compliance letters a week since the Turnbull government introduced a new computer-based system back in July, up from its usual rate of about 20,000 a year previously. Many have slammed the system as being faulty.

The agency’s official Twitter account has been responding to users stressed about receiving debt notices during the Christmas period and has referred a bunch to Lifeline.

This is just one example of users being referred to the suicide hotline after being sent inaccurate debt-recovery notices.

However, Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said yesterday the process was not linked to the department’s new debt compliance activities.

“It is a long-established process that we provide information about the department’s social work services to customers who are at-risk, or who threaten suicide or self-harm. We take all mentions of this nature seriously,” he said.

Despite the sincerity of the Lifeline referrals, many Twitter users have slammed the process as being a further evidence of a flawed system.

The drama comes just days after independent MP Andrew Wilkie told reporters that he had four different people approach his office he believed to be suicidal after receiving the letters.

“I’ve had people who have approached me who have been frightened, absolutely scared, people who are paying this money because they are so frightened by this very official letter,”  Wilkie said on Wednesday.

“I’ve had four people now approach me in my office who I would describe as presenting as suicidal and in all those cases we’ve taken what action we thought was appropriate.”

“I’m not blaming Centrelink for this, I’m blaming the government. I’m blaming the relevant ministers, I’m blaming the PM who is responsible for his government,” he said. 

“And I’m making the point in the strongest and clearest possible terms: it is not good enough for a minister to stand up yesterday or today and to crow about something that is terrifying Australians and bringing some Australians to the brink of suicide.”

Read more about the Centrelink debacle here.

And if you’re feeling the pressure of debt or have any other issues with mental health you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

[via SMH]