Robodebt Royal Commission: What Has Happened And What Is To Come

Robodebt To Be Probed By Royal Commission

The Albanese Government has decided to hold an Inquiry into the Robodebt program initiated by the previous Government. These issues have now ultimately led to the formation of the Robodebt Royal Commission.

What was the Robodebt scheme?

Centrelink is at heart of Robodebt Royal Commission

Robodebt, formerly going under the name of  Online Compliance Intervention (OCI), was an automated debt recovery program that Services Australia employed as part of its Centrelink payment compliance program. This automated system’s intent was to replace a manual process. However, there were several negative impacts of the scheme.


What was the issue?

The issues involved allegations of misconduct which included:

    • Over 2000 people committing suicide after receiving RoboDebt notices
    • Debt notices issued to deceased and disabled people

The scheme claimed more than two billion dollars in payments from over 400,000 people.

Investigations and inquiries timeline

  1. 2017-2020 Senate inquiries & Commonwealth Ombudsman, finding multiple issues with the scheme
  2. April 2019 – Commonwealth Ombudsman recommends a comprehensive evaluation of the scheme.
  3. Nov 2019 – Commencement of the Robodebt Class Action
  4. Nov 2019 – Federal Court rules Robodebt scheme Unlawful
  5. May 2020 – Morrison Government announced the scrapping of Robodebt, and that it would refund approximately 470,000 debts
  6. Nov 2020 – Gordon Legal class action for 1.2 billion dollars settles with the government
  7. June 2021 – Federal Court approved the settlement between Commonwealth and applicants for 112 million

Labor announces Robodebt Royal Commission

What will the Robodebt Royal Commission inquiry cover:

  • The establishment, design and implementation of the scheme, including who was responsible
  • The handling of concerns about the schemes
  • The impact it had, including on vulnerable individuals and the ultimate cost to the Commonwealth
  • Measures to ensure such a scheme does not take place again.
  • How Robodebt was allowed to occur for more than four years

Where to watch the Robodebt Royal Commission live:

More to come. 

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O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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