CPSU member and Centrelink Compliance and Debt Operations Officer, Jeannie-Marie Blake, yesterday appeared at the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.

The office where Ms Blake worked was involved with the implementation of the Robodebt scheme from when it was a pilot in 2015, right through until it ceased in 2019.

Ms Blake’s story recounted the consistent efforts made by frontline workers in Centrelink to stop Robodebt because they knew it was flawed and would cause harm.

They were repeatedly ignored.

The Royal Commission also heard of the deterioration of Ms Blake’s workplace and staff morale as focus shifted away from the provision of public services and towards KPIs, churn and shaming.

The scheme went on to have devastating impacts across the country, including on those on the frontline in Centrelink who were made to enforce it.

We hope the deliberations of the Royal Commission bring accountability for all those whose lives were harmed by the Robodebt scheme.

Quotes Attributable to Melissa Donnelly

“The CPSU has consistently publicly condemned the Robodebt scheme and the subsequent trauma and distress it has inflicted on the clients who it impacted, as well as those workers who were made to enforce it.

“Our union is incredibly proud of Jeannie and her bravery in standing up and speaking out for not only those who were targeted by this unlawful scheme, but for the frontline Centrelink workers who were made to enforce it.

“One of the many lessons for Government here is that they need to value and respect the expertise of public servants.

“Those raising the alarm alongside Ms Blake, were long serving, good-hearted, loyal public servants who did their jobs in the best interests of the public and who were experts in their field. Some had been there for more than 30 years. If they say something is wrong, they should be listened to.

“CPSU members in Services Australia are proud of the work they do and the people they help, but this scheme undermined them, their jobs, and their expertise, and had unacceptable impacts on the very people they were there to help.

Media contact: Tori McGregor 0429 000 620