Centrelink accused of killing a customer

An Australian Broadcasting Authority investigation has found Federal welfare agency Centrelink has a case to answer over the suicide of a customer.

Centrelink lodged a complaint with the ABA concerning an item broadcast 3 March 2004 on channel seven's Today Tonight, denying the claim that pressure from it's staff following the miscalculation of $35,000 in payments forced a customer's suicide.

The report indicates that "[i]n their letter of complaint to the ABA [Centrelink] asserted: [t]he story included an allegation, attributed to the daughters of a former Centrelink customer, that their motherís suicide was as a result of Centrelinkís continual pressure on her to find a job. Centrelink rejects that allegation".

The ABA was of the view that the "family genuinely believe that Centrelink treated their mother in a manner inappropriate for someone in an emotionally unstable state of mind, and that this ultimately was a factor contributing to their motherís decision to take her own life".

"The ABA finds that the viewpoints of [the deceased's] three daughters were represented fairly."

"Accordingly, the licensee did not breach ... the [broadcasting] Code."

August 4, 2005