Centrelink is an Australian Government agency responsible for delivering a wide range of services and payments to Australians who find themselves on a low income or without an income. Centrelink works with other government departments and community organisations to link people to the services and resources they need.
- How to contact Centrelink
- How Centrelink can help you
- When to go to Centrelink
- What to expect when you contact Centrelink
- Centrelink Customer Service Centres
- When will your Centrelink payments start
- Other Centrelink payments and services
- Case study
How to contact Centrelink
It is important to contact Centrelink as soon as you are retrenched to ensure you receive any payment/s you may be eligible for from the earliest possible date of your eligibility.
Find out more and register your intention to claim Centrelink entitlements.
Email your completed form to Centrelink and a staff member will ring you to confirm your request or provide more information.
Click here for details about how to contact Centrelink by phone, mail, through its website or by visiting one of its Customer Service Centres.
Many people make initial contact with Centrelink by phone:
- Employment Services (13 28 50) – if you’re looking for a new job, or
- Retirement Services (13 23 00) – if you’ve decided to retire.
Or, they choose to visit a Customer Service Centre.
In most cases, the first step to register for a Centrelink payment will be a phone interview. Centrelink will then arrange a face-to-face meeting within 14 days to finalise your registration, if appropriate.
Centrelink will confirm all details of your meeting in writing.
How Centrelink can help you
When you’ve just lost your job or have to manage on less income it’s important that you understand your financial position, including how to best use the funds you have at your disposal.
Centrelink can provide information on a range of programs and services as well as providing a range of income support payments, including Newstart Allowance for people who are looking for work.
Centrelink’s Financial Information Service can help you understand your options when you’ve been retrenched by providing information on termination payments, superannuation, Centrelink payments and services and taxation implications. They can also provide information on investment and retirement planning.
When to go to Centrelink
It’s never too early to familiarise yourself with what Centrelink does and seek information on how to best manage your way through a job loss experience.
Centrelink’s website is a perfect place to get your early information. It will help you decide when to register for payments and services you are entitled to receive in your circumstances.
If you’ve been retrenched, you can immediately access assistance through Job Services Australia. This will help you get immediate, practical help to find a new job.
If you’re attending a Customer Service Centre to register, make sure you take all the required information and documents to complete your registration at a single visit. You’ll also need to supply Centrelink with details and information about the finances of your partner, if you have one.
What to expect when you contact Centrelink
Centrelink has over 300 Customer Service Centres Australia-wide and a broad network of agencies. You can access Centrelink’s online services from any computer with internet access, or at a Centrelink office or agency.
Centrelink Call Centres
Centrelink’s phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm local time. The Family Assistance Office is open from 8 am to 8 pm local time. All Call Centres are closed for business on national public holidays.
Tips to save time when calling Centrelink:
- Waiting times are usually shortest early in the morning or on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Mid-to-late mornings are busy and so is the first day after a weekend or public holiday. Making calls outside these peak periods may save time.
- Stay on the line – hanging up and redialling may mean a longer wait for customers than staying on the line.
- Have your details ready.
- Have a pen and paper ready.
Centrelink Customer Service Centres
The majority of Centrelink’s Customer Service Centres are open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm local time, and are closed on national public holidays. Some locations close for State and Territory public holidays.
When you speak to a Centrelink Customer Service Adviser you’ll find they are professional, compassionate and well-trained. They will be able to quickly answer your questions and assist you with the completion of any forms required to complete your registration.
When your registration is complete, Centrelink will advise you in writing if you are eligible for a payment, when your payment will start, and how much you will receive
When will your Centrelink payments start
The start date of any Centrelink payments you receive depends on your individual circumstances and may include one of the following waiting periods:
Income maintenance period
Centrelink treats any payment for annual leave, long service leave and redundancy in your termination payment as income in advance for an equivalent period. So, if your termination payment includes three weeks annual leave and six weeks redundancy payment, you’ll have to wait nine weeks to satisfy the Income Maintenance Period before your income support payments start.
Liquid assets waiting period
The term “liquid assets” refers to cash or other assets, such as shares, that can be readily converted to cash. A Liquid Assets Waiting Period will apply at Centrelink whether or not you received a termination payment, and is based on your personal and financial situation.
When you register, Centrelink will want to know about your money and investments and any other payments you’re expecting to receive. They’ll also want this information about your partner’s finances. From this information, they’ll calculate your Liquid Assets Waiting Period.
The maximum Liquid Assets waiting period is 13 weeks. Your Income Maintenance and Liquid Assets Waiting periods may be served concurrently.
Note that your funds in superannuation and rollover funds are not included in determining your Liquid Assets Waiting Period.
Other Centrelink payments and services
As part of your assessment, Centrelink will determine your eligibility to a range of additional payments and services:
Family Tax Benefit
Your entitlement to Family Tax Benefit may change as a result of redundancy.
As a low income earner you may receive a Health Care Card or Concession Card that may entitle you to discounts on health, transport and education expenses.
If you rent in the private market you may receive Rent Assistance to help pay your rent. The amount you are entitled to depends on your individual circumstances.
As a Centrelink income support recipient, you may apply for an Advance Payment that you re-pay through fortnightly deductions from your benefit.
Automatic bill payment
You can choose to have money for regular bills like rent, gas, electricity and water deducted by Centrelink through their automatic debit system, Centrepay. Paying your bills by fortnightly instalments this way will make your monthly and quarterly bills more manageable.
Paul was retrenched when the mill he had worked at for 17 years closed down because of poor profitability due to the economic downturn. He received a total termination payment of $25,000 comprising $4000 for eight weeks holiday pay, $4000 for eight weeks long service leave and $17,000 redundancy pay, calculated at two weeks’ salary for each year he was employed there.