Got an Answer?
If you were told you would get a letter advising of a fine, and you didnt, and they are now treating you as if you received the letter and ignored it and did nothing, perhaps ask them for proof that you were sent the letter in the first place.
They are a nightmare to phone, but it might be worth trying that to find out if you were sent a letter, and when it was posted.
Take notes about that call.
In future write down notes from every interaction you have with them. Maybe have a dedicated notebook that you use just for Centrelink.
Take down the names and employee numbers, if they will give them to you, of who you speak to, and notes on exactly what they said.
They should have notes on their files about every interaction with you, but it sounds like something has slipped through the cracks.
Phone them and ask how you can start making voluntary repayments, or if you can request a reduction in the amount they pay you to start the repayment process.
Also, I am sure there are free legal advisory services, perhaps ring Lifeline to see if they know of any in your area, and explain what has happened.
Thats all I can advise with the information you have provided.
I am going to be straight to the point, as I speak from experience. Not sure if the situation has resolved or not, but here are my two bits of information. Firstly, with the interview, they are fishing for information and they will most likely have a person from the office in the room; as well as the interviewee. DO NOT under any circumstances trust them when they say, no-one will know. It is a smokescreen to gain your trust. Have someone with you and document everything. You are just a number to them. If you did commit the offence; own it, pay it back and take the punishment dished out in court. If they feel your intentions were fraudulent; most likely this will go all the way to the CDPP - Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions. These guys have zero tolerance for this form of behaviour and will take it all the way to court. I have been there and fought them via the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The matter still went to court and I was convicted. I own the mistakes I did 6 years ago and my circumstances were very different then are they know, but admitting your faults and owning them is the first step in putting this mess behind you. Now saying jail time won't happen, is all dependent on the amount; length of deceit and the sophistication behind it, and prior records. Also, they will make it hard to repay the money on your terms. It took up to a year from the initial investigation before they allowed me to repay the debt - all $567 worth.
I apologise for my bluntness, however, I have been there and through my own stupid reasonings, I have a criminal record that will stick for another 5 years. I have no patience for people who try to make excuses for their behaviour. Own it and move on to find ways to make your life better. What we don't realise when we make these mistakes are the people we affect. It's like a domino effect.
Go to legal aid and explain the situation. They have lawyers who deal specifically with centrelink.
It is no excuse! Every single time you report you are asked how many hours you worked and how much you were paid. If you read your agreement at the job agency you would know your obligations.
You do not have to work 30 hours , if you do not meet the 30 hour requirement you must actively look for work.
Ignorance and stupidity is not going to get you out of this, you have committed fraud, deal with the conquences.
I was wrong bringing ignorance into this as there is no real way one could be ignorant to what the op has done.
Regardless of how one reports they are clear on what they expect.
I intentionally commited fraud by working as well as claiming single parent pension , I owed over $15,000.
I've written about my outcome lots in this forum and there are a couple of other women that have too. Search "Centrelink fraud" and heaps will come up.
I confessed, was not prosecuted and had to repay the debt at $100 per fornigjht.
How much do you owe?
Whole different ball park to op blaming them for reporting incorrectly.
My mum used to say if he told you to jump of the Sydney harbour bridge would you? When I used to blame my brother for telling me to do stupid shit.
You can always plead your case in writing to the ombudsman and it sounds like you are genuine. Most people don’t go to jail so please try and stop stressing x