Tips on dealing with Centrelink

Most things can be done online 

It can take hours to get through to Centrelink on the phone! Only call if you have tried doing it yourself online first or have a complex issue and need to talk to someone. Be prepared to wait. You can do most things through Centrelink’s online service, such as apply for a claim, report your income, update your address and change your relationship status.

Find the right phone number for the service you need. For help with payments for students call 132 490. 

Get all your documentation before making a claim 

When you submit a claim for any payment you will be asked to provide documentation related to your claim. This will be proof of identity documents such as a birth certificate or passport, pay slips, bank statements, medical evidence, and separation certificates. If you want to get your claim assessed as quickly as possible, make sure you submit everything they have requested as soon as possible.  

Never send anything to Centrelink by post 

It will very likely get lost. It might be tempting to put forms in the mail, rather than going into a Centrelink office, or dealing with their online submission process, but don’t do it!

Don’t go into a Centrelink office if you need to apply for a payment  

You will just have to wait in a queue for a long time to speak to someone, who will then assign you to a computer, to complete the form online. This is only useful if you don’t have other access to a computer (even then, you don’t have to wait in line to use the Centrelink computers).

Take a buddy with you 

You’re allowed to take a support person with you for dealings with Centrelink. If you have a complicated situation, take someone with you (if you can). They might understand things that you miss, and they can be helpful if you’re feeling nervous. 

Take notes of what you are told 

If you have a complicated situation, it’s possible to get told very different things by different Centrelink staff. Surprise – they’re not all experts on every situation. Keeping notes on what you’ve been told by various Centrelink staff (including their names and the date and time) can help if you end up following incorrect advice – especially if you’re facing a penalty for doing so. 

Contact a Centrelink social worker 

Dealing with Centrelink can be stressful and if you are feeling vulnerable and confused you might find it helpful to speak with a social worker. Ask to speak with a social worker when you call or attend at a Centrelink office.

Contact Centrelink and request to speak to a social worker: 132 850.

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Written by SUPRA Postgraduate Advocacy Service March 2023

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