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Monash experts: Law faculty robodebt submission highlights how to prepare for future automation challenges

Monash University 2 mins read

The Royal Commission on Robodebt report has made recommendations drawing on a submission from the Monash University Faculty of Law. The Royal Commission's recommendations propose a number of changes to Australian law in order to prevent a debacle like robodebt from recurring.

The Monash Faculty of Law submission to the Royal Commission recommends:

  1. Measures to protect the community from unfair automated decision-making. These include the establishment of an AI Safety Commissioner to oversee the use of automated decision making processes.
  2. Changes to how government decisions are reviewed by tribunals, courts, and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
  3. Improvements to the social security system, so that social security recipients get fairer treatment when debts are raised against them.
  4. The re-establishment of the Administrative Review Council
  5. The need to legislate Pintarich to ensure that automated (or partly automated) determinations are treated as 'decisions' for the purposes of review.

Associate Professor Joel Townsend, Director of Monash Law Clinics, Faculty of Law
Contact: + 61 433 397 948 or

The following can be attributed to Associate Professor Townsend:

"The Robodebt Royal Commission has shown fundamental deficiencies in our social security system, and in our systems for reviewing government decisions. We shouldn't let the chance for reform pass us by.

"Automation will only become a bigger part of government decision-making, as time goes on. We need to use the robodebt experience to improve our public administration, and to prepare for the challenges of that future ."

Emily Singh, Lecturer, Monash University Faculty of Law
Contact: +61 3 9903 4840 or

The following can be attributed to Emily Singh:

"The Robodebt Royal Commission Report highlights the need for a social security system that is transparent, fair, legal and accessible to those for whom it is designed, particularly when the system is becoming increasingly reliant on automation. The recommendations of the Royal Commission must be implemented in a way that achieves these goals. 

"At Monash Law Clinics we work with members of the Victorian community every day who rely on the social security system, and our clients continue to receive Centrelink debt notices which do not contain a proper explanation for the cause of the debt, nor provide sufficient detail as to the evidence relied on by Centrelink in raising the debt. 

“The onus of proof is still placed on the Centrelink recipient, and the availability of legal advice and assistance in these circumstances is highly limited. Implementing the Royal Commission's recommendations in a way that overhauls this continued lack of transparency is critical.”

Contributors to the submission include Castan Centre for Human Rights Law members Joel Townsend, Dr Paul Burgess, Associate Professor Brendan Gogarty, Professor Chris Marsden, Associate Professor Yee-Fui Ng and fellow Monash Faculty of Law academics Professor Jeff Giddings, Emily Singh.

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For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or

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