Debt, Duress and Dob-ins: Report Preview

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EJA has partnered with academic researchers at the University of Wollongong, the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland, to examine the operation of social security law, and Centrelink debt investigation and recovery practices, for women experiencing family and domestic violence. The project report – Debt, Duress and Dob-ins – will be published by EJA later in 2021. The report will build on EJA’s 2018 research, How well does Australia’s social security system support victims of family and domestic violence?, as well as data from the new research partnership.


The project data reveals how victims/survivors of domestic violence can unfairly be held responsible for social security debts and exposed to the risk of criminal prosecution—including in situations where:

  • their actions leading to the debt’s accrual were a direct result of threats, physical violence and/or coercion by an abuser
  • they or their children received no financial support from an abusive partner or alleged partner during the debt period
  • they did not receive any direct benefit from the Centrelink payments constituting the debt
  • the abuser intentionally lied or misled them about their income or assets, and this lack of knowledge or misinformation led to the victim’s debt
  • the abuser used Centrelink compliance mechanisms to further their coercion and control over the victim/survivor.

Read full report preview Debt, Duress and Dob-ins.