For free legal help:
Basic Rights Queensland
Phone: (07) 3847 5532
Freecall (outside Brisbane only): 1800 358 511
Legal Aid Queensland
Phone 1300 65 11 88 (for the cost of a local call from a landline in Australia)
Community Legal Centres Queensland
Phone 07 3392 0092
Or look under “Community Legal Centres” in your local phone book.
If you need an interpreter to help you contact a service phone TIS 131 450
Activity sheets for this story:
Win-Aung: Centrelink? Hi this is Win-Aung Kunoo. I just got married and I’m now living with my wife.
Centrelink worker: Thanks for telling us. Your Newstart payments may change. Please write down this receipt number and keep it in a safe place.
Win-Aung: Hey, we’re still getting the same money.
Sanda: Must be OK because you called them.
Boss: Hey mate, can you work extra hours tomorrow?
Win-Aung: 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.
Boss: Not sure - probably around four hours.
Win-Aung: OK, see you tomorrow.
Sanda: That was a long day!
Win-Aung: Yeah, they needed me for nine hours - not four! I’m tired.
Win-Aung: I really like this job, and we get cheap fruit and veggies.
Win-Aung: They say I owe them $2,000.
Sanda: That’s not right.
Win-Aung: I don’t understand this letter.
Centrelink worker: 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 us you were married so you have been overpaid on Newstart.
Win-Aung: But I did tell Centrelink I was married. It’s your mistake.
Win-Aung: … and each week my hours change, so I never know how much I’ll be paid.
Centrelink worker: It’s your responsibility to give us the correct information Mr Kunoo.
Sanda: Maybe you should call legal aid? I know they help with legal problems.
Win-Aung: Can you help me with a Centrelink problem?
Legal Aid worker: I’ll give you the number of a free legal service that helps with Centrelink problems.
Lawyer: You have been overpaid because you did not tell Centrelink about all your income from work.
Win-Aung: But I never know how much I will be paid!
Lawyer: We can ask Centrelink to change your pay date so that you put your forms in after you get paid.
Win-Aung: And they said I didn’t tell them I was married. I did tell them.
Lawyer: Do you have a receipt number for the phone call?
Win-Aung: Yes, here it is. Lucky I kept it.
Lawyer: What did you tell them? Did you know you were being overpaid?
Win-Aung: I told them I got married and moved in with my wife. I thought they must be paying me the right amount.
Lawyer: I will talk to Centrelink about whether they can cancel part of the debt.
Win-Aung: Thanks for your help.
Lawyer: No worries. It’s my job to help people with Centrelink problems.
Lawyer: I’ve got good news. Centrelink has agreed to reduce the debt to $600. Can you afford to pay $20 a week?
Win-Aung: That’s fantastic! Thank you.