​Centrelink blames computer glitch for wrongly billing 73,000 customers

The Department of Human Services has apologised for incorrectly billing customers for money they did not owe to Centrelink.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Centrelink has apologised for a computer glitch that saw around 73,000 customers wrongly billed during the New Year period.

The error resulted in Centrelink customers being billed for money they did not owe. The incorrect debt was displayed in customers' online accounts or on the Express Plus app, which customers use to access their accounts on their smartphones.

In a statement, the Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said the incorrect debt display has now been fixed, and is no longer showing in customers' accounts.

Jongen also reassured that the error did not have any financial impact on customers.

Last February, then-Social Services Minister Scott Morrison described the system that Australia's welfare system was running on as "Walkman-era" technology and "desperately needed" a computer upgrade.

A month after Morrison's comments, the federal government announced that it was going to scrap Centrelink's antiquated computer system at a cost of AU$1 billion.

The plan was also backed by Labor.

At the time, Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh told Sky News: "The case ... has been pretty strongly made that this system is groaning under the weight of what's being demanded of it."

As part of the upgrade, the Department of Human Services recently updated its Child Support Express Plus app, which provides parents with access to a range of child support services on the go.

Minister for Human Services Stuart Robert said the upgrade will make it easier for paying parents to meet their obligations by giving them a more convenient option to make urgent child support payments.

"The department has been listening to customer feedback and exploring the latest technologies to design features specifically for smartphone use," he said.

Robert said customers can expect similar enhancements to be introduced over the next few years as the government works to overhaul the department's IT systems.

Editorial standards