Single mothers targeted by Centrelink's robo-debt campaign

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Single mothers targeted by Centrelink's robo-debt campaign

5 ways to avoid being branded a Centrelink welfare cheat

By Jason Bryce | 03 February 2017

5 ways to avoid being branded a welfare cheat - Photo source:

Have you checked your My Gov inbox lately?

Single mothers are being targeted by Centrelink

Have you checked your My Gov inbox lately? Single mothers are being targeted for scrutiny by Centrelink's robo-debt campaign. You won't like hearing it and the government doesn't boast about it, but most Aussies who get branded as "welfare cheats" are single mothers.

Maybe you just aren't the most organised person. Maybe you haven't done your tax return. Maybe you just made a mistake or forgot to update your details or missed a reporting date. Whatever. You think Centrelink's computer cares about your overworked life? Sympathy doesn't compute in the new world of robo-debts, so take charge read our 5 ways to ensure you aren't branded a welfare cheat...

  1. Immediately tell Centrelink your income has changed, the same day it changes
  2. Be careful who you tell about your new boyfriend

    Don't miss a report. And tell them the exact date you start a new job. And finish a job. The exact date.

    If you are registered for Newstart, or Parenting Payment Single and are working, even if you don't get any Newstart or PPS, still keep reporting every fortnight. Don't stop reporting until you are settled into a permanent position and leave the system. And now Family Tax Benefit end of year supplements are gone for people earning over $80,000, some mums will have not have balancing payments if their income has increased through the year. If your income from work has increased, you might be a welfare cheat

  3. Check your MyGov inbox
  4. Centrelink cuts hit families hard

    Even if it's years since you received any Parenting Payment, Newstart or Family Tax Benefits, they might just now be matching your payments with information from the tax office. Many people now caught up in the 'robo-debt' debacle didn't respond to a previous letter sent to their MyGov inbox. They quickly have been labelled welfare cheats.

  5. Respond to letters
  6. Be careful who you tell about your new boyfriend

    If you don't respond to a letter asking for more information, the next letter will detail an overpayment and the amount you owe. They may start reducing your benefits to repay the debt. The onus of proof is on you to disprove the debt because you have been branded a welfare cheat.

  7. Be careful who you tell about your new boyfriend.
  8. Be careful who you tell about your new boyfriend

    You found a great new guy? Or girl even? That's fantastic. But you want to take it slowly right? Maybe not move in right away? But their car is in the driveway every night. You are a couple on Facebook. And that is the new test of whether you are a couple. If you live together, identify online and in public as a couple, you need to get off Parenting Payment Single as soon as possible and onto the partnered rate.

    A case in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2015 has set legal precedent for all single mums. Your Facebook announcements can be used in evidence against you. Tania Sharp and her 'house-mate' Darren O'Brien, announced on Facebook their mutual joy at finally falling pregnant after months of trying. Four months later Centrelink cut off Tania's Parenting Payment Single, presumably after a report from a 'friend.' Tania then tried to argue that the conception was a result of a "one-night stand" but the Tribunal found she was a member of a couple based on Facebook evidence.

    Centrelink only check social media if they have a report from one of your 'friends' or your ex-partner. It's so easy to make an anonymous report to Centrelink and suddenly you are a welfare cheat.

    But there is another side of the coin. You MAY be able to live with your ex-partner or another person and still receive Parenting Payment Single. Sometimes couples just have to remain in the same house long after the close intimate relationship has ended, because its so expensive to maintain separate addresses.

    Sometimes two single parents can share a house to cut down on costs. Centrelink may ask you some extra questions but if you genuinely are not a couple you should be ok. Long gone are the days when they will randomly come to your home and check the sock drawer. You are not a welfare cheat.

For more need-to-know information on what the government have in store for single parents, read our latest article Centrelink 2017 cuts single parents should know about, and if you enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like or share below.

Jason Bryce
Business & Finance Journalist

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By now, you will have read that there are plenty of Centrelink changes that will mean a lot less money for you and your family in 2017. What you may not realise is that single parents more...

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Have your say on this story - how do you feel about Centrelink's latest debt campaign? Comment below!

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Jason is a business and finance journalist with 20 years experience, and is also a member of the Expert Opinion Panel. He has a regular weekly column in the Sunday Mail (Brisbane) and writes regularly for the Business Daily section of the Herald Sun in Melbourne and many other newspapers and magazines. Read Jason Bryce's full profile here

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What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

Please remember the bigger font words,because we will use it often in our website.