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Government to pay back $721m as it scraps Robodebt for Centrelink welfare recipients

Key points: Almost half a million debts will be waived or refunded by the Government The computer-generated demands for payment will be refunded if they have already paid The scheme began requiring additional proof last year The Federal Government will refund $721 million worth of debts it clawed back through its controversial Robodebt scheme. The scheme saw hundreds of thousands of people issued with computer-generated debt notices, some of which made demands for payment from people who did not owe the Government any money. Services Australia said in a statement that 470,000 debts would be waived, with refunds to be rolled out from July. More than 370,000 people were affected, with some having been issued multiple notices. People who have...

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Schools provide food for many hungry children. This needs to continue when classes go online

Schools are ideally placed to run breakfast clubs and other food programs when they are open, but how equipped are they to continue these programs when schools close, or parents – many of whom act as program volunteers – keep their children at home? For children, school is about more than just learning. This is even more the case for children living in disadvantage as many schools also provide vital food and a welcoming environment. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world, many schools are closing and fewer children are attending. In term two, it seems, most Australian schools will be moving online. We must consider how to replicate the physical, nurturing environments of schools for children living in poverty. Breakfast...

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Now's the perfect time for banks to prove they're not really a bunch of bastards

If you’re a small business looking for relief, go in hard with your bank. The authorities are expecting them to help you, writes Robert MacDonald. Australia’s banks have a unique opportunity to prove they’re really not bastards. One of the big differences between the Global Financial Crisis of a decade ago and today’s coronavirus pandemic is that back then, the banks were the patients. They’d been laid low by a sudden loss of trust in the world banking system – brought on by the risky sub-prime mortgage lending practices of US financial institutions. Liquidity dried up, freezing up the global banking system. The Rudd government responded by taking the unprecedented step of guaranteeing more than $2 trillion of bank deposits...

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