10 January 2017
Please visit the “Continuing Professional Development” section of the website for the current calendar… PLEASE NOTE: This is a “live document” meaning that it is subject to change.
10 January 2017
Pressure is growing on the Turnbull government over the Centrelink debt-recovery controversy, after the Commonwealth Ombudsman launched a wide-ranging investigation amid calls for the system to be shut down.
The ombudsman moved to initiate an investigation this month over significant concerns about automated data-matching processes being used to check welfare recipients’ eligibility for some Centrelink payments, leading to outcry over the Christmas period as about 170,000 debt notices were issued.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and South Australian senator Nick Xenophon both referred the matter to the Ombudsman in December, but the investigation was already under way within the office.
Ombudsman Colin Neave confirmed on Monday he was aware of concerns raised about the automated data-matching system used by Centrelink.
“Mr Neave has commenced an own-motion investigation into the matter and is considering the issues on a systemic level,” a spokeswoman said.
“The Ombudsman conducts own-motions in private and, accordingly, cannot comment on any specific details.
“The Ombudsman will make no further comments at this stage.”
The investigation is expected to look at the matching of Centrelink income data and information held by the Australian Taxation Office and other agencies, as well as complaints-handling processes and communication methods used by the welfare agency.
Mr Wilkie welcomed the move on Monday.
“Many members of the community will gain some comfort from the news that the Commonwealth Ombudsman will indeed investigate Centrelink’s controversial debt-recovery system,” he said in a statement.
“My office continues to receive a large number of complaints from the community from people who are being wrongly accused of owing Centrelink money or at least finding it near-on impossible to substantiate their income going back as far as 2010.
“The scale of this problem is beyond doubt, not least because Centrelink itself has admitted knowingly sending out as many as 4000 incorrect debt notices a week.”
The investigation will result in a publicly-released report, but the ombudsman only has authority to call for changes through recommendations to government and cannot compel action.
Labor has also referred the matter to the Australian National Audit Office, while the Information and Privacy Commissioner is considering the problems.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten is among those calling for the Department of Human Services to halt or scrap the process, but the government maintains there are only a small number of problems and more than $300 million in incorrect welfare payments have already been recovered.
Mr Shorten called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to cut short his holiday to deal with the controversy.
20 December 2016
We have posted 2 courses for tis training which filled VERY quickly. Wyatt Office is closed for the holidays, however they have assured us that they will be holding more of these sessions. Dates will be released in the new year.
19 December 2016
The 2017 FCA conference will be held on the Gold Coast 14-19th May
Stay tuned for updates: http://fcaconference.com.au/
15 December 2016
Veda Advantage Information Services and Solutions Ltd (Veda) is being forced to refund thousands of consumers who paid to obtain credit reports under Veda’s expedited delivery deal, according to a decision handed down today by the Australian Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner found that Veda breached a series of privacy rules when they:
7 December 2016
Following the slew of financial scandals Australians have faced in recent years, consumer advocates say that Australians need simple and accessible justice with reformed Ombudsman services.
2 December 2016
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will urge Australia’s big four banks to stop profiting from the misery of problem gamblers and their loved ones.
Mr Wilkie will today join ethical investor UCA Funds Management in its campaign to stop the big four banks allowing problem gamblers to use their credit cards to fund their addiction.
2 December 2016
FOS welcomes the release of the Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) report: External Dispute Resolution: Results of a Survey of Financial Counsellors. Organisations such as FCA undertake a vital role supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers to resolve financial service disputes.
29 November 2016
Consumer advocates say that the Government’s response to a recent review of payday lending and consumer leases laws is a good start and can go further to support Australians who are struggling to make ends meet.
16 November 2016
Consumer advocates have welcomed an Appeal Court decision which will allow the Commonwealth to ban a notorious funeral insurance company from accessing the Government’s direct debit system Centrepay.