Up to 40,000 people are still owed a slice of $24 million months after the government promised to hand back $712 million worth of robodebt money. Picture: AAP Image/David Mariuz
Up to 40,000 people are still owed a slice of $24 million months after the government promised to hand back $712 million worth of robodebt money. Picture: AAP Image/David Mariuz

40,000 Aussies owed $24m in refunds

A whopping 40,000 people are still owed a share of $24 million in robodebt refunds after Services Australia backed down on the controversial scheme.

About 402,000 people have either received a refund or had their debt reduced to zero, department officials told a senate estimates committee, but between 38-40,000 people were still yet to be contacted.

Deputy chief executive of Services Australia Michelle Lees told the committee those people were "yet to register or contact us in any way that would allow us to make any further refunds or zero their debts."

She explained the department had tried to reach those yet to be paid through letters, the MyGov website and app, and text messages multiple times.

Within the 40,000 yet to be paid are the deceased estates of 3,300 people.

So far, $697 million of the $721 million the government promised to repay has been divvied out among those Australians who were issued debt notices for alleged overpayments of welfare, which were later found to be based on flawed calculations.

The robodebt scheme was an automated process that matched Centrelink data and figures from the Australian Taxation Office, and sent automatic debt notices to anyone found to have been overpaid by the welfare agency.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert announced the repayment in May this year, after a test case in the Federal Court last year found the practice unlawful.

There is currently a class action underway against the scheme despite the announcement of a refund, as representative applicants do not believe the announcement deals with the legal issues in a satisfactory way.

The class action will go to trial on November 16.

Originally published as 40,000 Aussies owed $24m in refunds



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