Social Security Debt Help: using ground-breaking technology to help the most vulnerable

In December, SSRV launched the Social Security Debt Help online resource located on the SSRV website, and the impact was immediately felt. People who receive a debt notice from Centrelink tell us that it is often unexpected and a source of great anxiety and stress. What we know is that the those who receive a debt notice are often vulnerable and least able to deal with what happens next.

People have been telling us that since its launch, by simply visiting the Social Security Debt Help website, the pathway out of debt and the stress it creates becomes more visible.

Social Security Debt Help helps people with a Centrelink debt, or those supporting someone with one, understand what might have gone wrong, what their options are, and where they can get help.

Using the Self Help Tool, people simply enter into the website some information about their situation, and in response are given a kit, which includes things to think about and questions to ask a lawyer, financial counsellor or someone else supporting them through the process.

It provides them with information that stands them in good stead should they decide to seek help.

While Social Security Debt Help may be a relatively new resource, the project to develop it has actually been underway for a year. The design of Social Security Debt Help leveraged our experience with DSP Help and uses human-centred design and technology to help people understand, respond to and otherwise address Centrelink debts. 

It has been a big piece of work, and it’s so rewarding for everyone who worked on developing the project to see it helping so many.

What next?

Social Security Debt Help has been designed to be a live project. In the second year of the project, we will continue to use a human-centred design process to better understand our clients, colleagues and other stakeholders, and how best to further improve and develop the resource.

Last year we made people with debts themselves the focus, while also consulting with community workers and other stakeholders for breadth of experience. This year we’ll have a similar focus, but we are anticipating our tools may be further developed with the needs of financial counsellors and other support workers in mind. 

If you’re working with clients who have Centrelink debts and would like to feed your experience into these tools, please get in touch:

Social Security Debt Help is supported by funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner under the Victorian Legal Services Board Grants Program. 

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