A Wollongong single mother suspects she's a victim of the mishandled "robo-debt" scheme, which may have left her unnecessarily repaying more than $4000.
Taxpayers could pay more than $1 billion to the victims of the scheme, after Attorney-General Christian Porter admitted the Commonwealth may have to pay damages to the hundreds of thousands of people hit with debt notices based on flawed calculations.
Janna Mackie, 47, lives in transitional housing in Wollongong with four of her nine children.
She receives the Carer Allowance, as she has one child with autism and another with vision impairment.
We were paying $400 a week rent. I had two jobs at the time to support the kids and our family, and I ended up having to get a third job.
"I received a call from Centrelink in 2016, and I was told that I had an approximate amount of $4500 (owing)," she said.
"They told me they couldn't find the debt, why it was there, but the debt was there."
Ms Mackie said she'd "rarely been able to claim Centrelink", as an error on her birth certificate meant there was no surname listed, and therefore didn't match up to records.
"This lady told me we had to pay the money back, and even though I wasn't getting a Centrelink payment, the debt had come up in my name, and I had to pay it," she said.
"So we did; paid nearly $4500 back to Centrelink... It took us nearly two years.
"We were paying $400 a week rent. I had two jobs at the time to support the kids and our family, and I ended up having to get a third job.
"Now, four years later I'm finding out that it was something that we probably didn't have to pay. I'm pretty sure it's a 'robo-debt', because they couldn't even tell me why the debt was there. It was just there."
A class action over the scheme, which relied on income tax assessments made by the ATO that turned out to be inaccurate, is set to go ahead despite the government announcing it would repay $721 million to 373,000 people.
Ms Mackie said she had recently contacted Centrelink regarding her case, but was told because the class action has begun, she would be informed in July if she would be one of those who will receive damages.
"I've got good kids, good friends and support around me," she said.
"So as much as it's a bit of a kicker, I'm not as bad off as some people I suppose."
Labor is calling on the government to apologise to thousands of people wrongly made to repay funds to Centrelink.