A stroke survivor and her partner have been forced to auction personal items and survive on Salvation Army food vouchers after Centrelink suddenly cut off their carer payments, The Age reports.
But the Department of Human Services say they did nothing wrong.
Julie Davey was left paralysed on her left-hand side after a stroke two years ago. She had to resign from her job as a chief executive of a health care organisation and her husband, Peter Kronk, took on fulltime carer duties.
Since then the 57-year-old has made substantial recovery but still relies upon Mr Kronk to help with daily tasks, including bathing, dressing and eating.
However on March 7, Mr Kronk’s payment was abruptly cut off after an assessment over the phone.
A few days before, the couple received a “request for information” letter asking them to call Centrelink.
“There was nothing about the carer payment,” Ms Davey said.
Mr Kronk, who recently lost his job as a casual truck driver, said the “vague” conversation ranged from his salary to how much caring he did.
The couple were left reeling when the Centrelink staff told them at the end of the phone conversation that Mr Kronk no longer qualified for the carer’s payment and their payment was being cancelled as of that day.
Mr Kronk could apply for a lower carer’s allowance or Newstart allowance, both of which finally kicked in last week.
But the delay meant the couple had to survive for two months on Ms Davey’s disability pension of $604 every fortnight – with just $4 to spare after paying the mortgage.
The couple, who plan to appeal the decision, say they felt “tricked” and “disempowered” by their treatment.