Human cost of debt recovery ignored
The tragic story of the death of Rhys Cauzzo (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “‘Centrelink debt pushed him over the edge’”, February 18-24) was extremely saddening to say the least. I was very frustrated not only that any letters of demand sent to individuals by Dun and Bradstreet, as agent for the Department of Human Services, were received as fait accompli by so many, but that “Human” has been discarded from “Services” with so little regard for the consequences of those demands. Through my work in an accounting practice over the past 23 years, I have had many dealings with various debt collection companies, Dun and Bradstreet included, as recovery agents for the Australian Taxation Office. My experience has been that communication at the earliest possible time is paramount and beneficial to all concerned. Once a debt is confirmed and agreed upon, a payment arrangement can usually be negotiated.
There are many steps before any garnishee orders can be enforced. There is always a solution, and the human services minister should have, at the very least, empathetically communicated this to the vulnerable and desperate. This is why we need “Human” in “Services”; robots cannot communicate.
– Bernadette Scadden, Earlwood, NSW