About 10 years ago when I was overseas, someone bashed me up in a train station because I’m gay; I got knocked over and hit my head, now I struggle to remember things. When I came back to Australia I was diagnosed with HIV. I need a lot of help with everyday life, mainly because I forget things and also because I have been very depressed since my diagnosis.
Because of my health I have been getting benefits from Centrelink for the last 8 years or so. last year I received a letter from Centrelink telling me that I owed them money because I hadn’t reported income to them. I don’t remember this, I don’t remember anything! When I got the letter from Centrelink I thought about killing myself I didn’t know what to do, everything seemed so hard.
The first legal service I went told me to write to Centrelink and explain what happened. I didn’t know where to start. I just kept putting it off. I contacted HALC and told them about what happened. They asked me for permission to speak to my doctors, which I said was ok. A volunteer called Jennifer was helping me out, with one of the solicitors, Alex. Jennifer told me that she and Alex were going to write a letter to Centrelink explaining my situation. Jennifer helped me write a statement.
I don’t know how they did it, but I was so relieved when Jennifer called me to tell me I didn’t have a debt to Centrelink anymore, it was a weight off my shoulders for sure.
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[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]