about Centrelink payments and
other services for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples
This piece of art is Centrelink’s
symbol for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander services with the
six petals representing various
payments and services that
Centrelink provides for Indigenous
customers. Tasmanian Aboriginal
Artist, Max Mansell produced this
About Centrelink 4
What you need to bring with you when you 6
visit or call Centrelink
Indigenous identiﬁer 7
You must tell us if… 7
Keeping your personal information private 8
Are you a parent or guardian? 9
Are you looking for work? 11
Do you want to study or undertake training? 14
Needing help in a crisis? 15
Are you someone who is ill, injured or do you 16
have a disability?
Are you about to retire or in retirement? 19
Help with paying your bills and meeting your 19
living and health expenses
Other support services 21
How to contact us 23
Centrelink is an Australian Government Agency delivering
a wide range of services to the Australian community on
behalf of other government departments.
Centrelink is committed to making a difference to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by providing
high quality government services.
Indigenous customers and/or their communities can
access services by using:
• Indigenous Customer Service Ofﬁcers, who work
directly with Indigenous customers to access
Centrelink services. They also provide referrals to
other Centrelink, government and community services
and may visit local Indigenous communities.
• Indigenous Service Ofﬁcers, who liaise and consult
with Indigenous customers, community agencies,
government representatives and other relevant groups
to identify and understand community needs.
• Centrelink Agents and Access Points are Indigenous
community organisations which are contracted by
Centrelink to employ local Indigenous Australians
to improve the quality and access to government
services and payments in rural and remote Australia.
• Remote Area Service Centres (RASCs) are small
Centrelink ofﬁces located in remote areas. RASCs
provide access to the full range of Centrelink services
and are staffed by local Indigenous people.
• Remote Visiting Teams travel to remote areas
throughout Australia to service those customers who
do not have direct access to Centrelink services due
to their location.
• Indigenous Call Centres were implemented to provide
a culturally appropriate service for Indigenous people
particularly in remote areas where there may not be
direct access to Centrelink.
Don’t forget that all Centrelink staff in a Customer
Service Centre or Call Centre can help Indigenous
What you need to bring with you
when you visit or call Centrelink
You will need to provide Centrelink with proof of who you
are before Centrelink can give you a payment or service.
You may have to provide Centrelink with one or more
documents that prove who you are. Such documents can
include a birth certiﬁcate, a driver’s licence, Medicare
card or a bank statement. If you are having difﬁculties
getting the right documents together, a form called the
Proof of Identiﬁcation Veriﬁcation for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander People can be ﬁlled out to help you
with this. You can also speak to an Indigenous Customer
Service Ofﬁcer or Indigenous Service Ofﬁcer to help you
connect to a government or community organisation
that offers assistance in obtaining Proof of Identity
You should also bring your Customer Reference Number
(also called CRN), if you have one.
Note: You are responsible for registering the birth of
your newborn child, and you can do this by contacting
your state or territory Registry of Births, Deaths and
Marriages. You can also do this for older children or for
yourself. It is useful to have a birth certiﬁcate because
this can help you or your family do things like open a
bank account or get a driver’s licence.
When you apply for a new payment from Centrelink you
may be asked
‘Are you Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander?’
This question may also be asked if you change a
payment or update your details. This question is being
asked so that Centrelink can collect information that will
help to improve services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
You must tell us if…
You must tell us if there are any changes to your or your
partner’s circumstances such as:
• changes to how much you earn or if you change
your job this can include Community Development
Employment Project (CDEP) payments, royalties or if
you’ve sold artwork
• changes to where you live or rent details
• change of partner (new partner, separated or
• family details (your children come or go)
• change of study details (full-time to part-time), or
• if you are leaving Australia to travel or to live.
Important: When you are granted a payment or service
from Centrelink you will be sent a letter that explains
what changes to your situation or events you must
tell us about. The letter is important and is issued
under Social Security, Student Assistance or Family
It’s important that you read the letter carefully and tell
us about any and all of the events or changes to your
situation within the timeframe speciﬁed in the notice.
For example, you may have to tell us within 14 days if
you start work.
Note: If you don’t let Centrelink know of the changes and
you are paid more than you are entitled to, you may have
to pay back all or some of your payment.
Keeping your personal information private
Any personal information about you that Centrelink
collects is protected by law. Centrelink can only give your
information to someone else in special circumstances
where Australian laws allow or require us to, or when you
give us permission. You can get more information from
the privacy notice on Centrelink forms, the publication
Your Right to Privacy, by phoning 1300 363 992 or
Review and appeal rights
Most Centrelink decisions can be reviewed, in the
ﬁrst instance by Centrelink and if the customer is still
unhappy with the decision, by independent tribunals
such as the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Are you a parent or guardian?
You may be eligible for families money and should
• Following the birth or adoption of a child
• Following change of care of a child
• When you begin to use child care.
Payments Indigenous families may be able to get are:
• Family Tax Beneﬁt Part A helps with the cost of
bringing up children and is paid per child.
• Family Tax Beneﬁt Part B helps single parent families
and families with one main income.
• Child Care Beneﬁt helps families with the costs
of child care.
• Maternity Payment is a payment to help with the
costs of having a baby.
• Maternity Immunisation Allowance is a one-
off payment to encourage parents to immunise
• Large Family Supplement is when you have four or
more children in your family.
• Multiple Birth Allowance is when you give birth to
three or more babies at once.
Have you recently separated and
have a child or children ?
The Child Support Agency (CSA) is part of the
Department of Human Services. The Child Support
Scheme is designed to ensure that both parents
contribute to the ongoing costs of raising their children
after they separate. The CSA helps parents meet their
child support responsibilities by providing information
about how to manage child support arrangements and
offer a number of products and services to help you.
The CSA also works out and registers child support
payments and can tell you about the options that best
suit your individual needs.
Depending on your circumstances, the CSA can:
• explain your child support responsibilities and options
• work out how much child support is legally payable
• provide advice about transferring your child
• collect and transfer child support payments
• follow up on payments that are not made voluntarily
• provide referrals to counselling and support services
• provide information materials to support
You can contact the CSA and speak to a Customer
Service Ofﬁcer on 13 1272.
Are you looking for work?
The Australian Government wants to increase workforce
participation and reduce welfare dependency. The
following programs support this aim.
Community Development Employment
Project (CDEP) Programme
The Community Development Employment Project (CDEP)
is run by the Department of Employment and Workplace
Relations and the Torres Strait Regional Authority to
provide unemployed Indigenous people with activities
designed to meet their community’s needs and improve
their job skills.
Some CDEPs in city and regional centres also have
an Indigenous Employment Centre that helps CDEP
participants get ongoing work. If you join CDEP you
will receive a CDEP wage and you may get the CDEP
Participant Supplement, which is a fortnightly payment
by Centrelink to assist with the cost of participating
Indigenous Employment Centres will help CDEP
participants ﬁnd suitable long term jobs. They will help
participants get ready for work outside of the CDEP and
support them while they are in their chosen job.
Indigenous Wage Assistance
Wage Assistance provides an incentive of up to $4400
(including GST) over 26 weeks to employers who provide
ongoing employment to eligible Aboriginal and Torres
To be eligible you must be:
• an unemployed Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait
• aged 21 years or over and receiving an eligible
income support payment, or
• participating in a CDEP project, or
• under 21 years of age and registered with Centrelink
or a Job Network member as looking for work but not
necessarily receiving an income support payment.
Indigenous job seekers can also call
Freecall™1802 102 for more information.
Help to ﬁnd a job
The Job Network is a national network of employment
service organisations that can help you ﬁnd a job. There
are Job Network agencies that specialise in helping
Indigenous job seekers.
• Information about Job Network members and
• A referral service to Job Network members.
• Access to facilities to help you look for a job.
If you are on Newstart Allowance you will be referred to
a Job Network member.
If you have a disability, injury or health condition and
want a job, CRS Australia can help you to build on your
abilities to be ready to look for a job. They can also help
you ﬁnd a job and settle in. This service is free to people
receiving income support payments from Centrelink.
CRS Australia can help you to:
• Focus on what you need and what you are good at
• Decide on what work you would like to do
• Cope with your injury or health condition at work.
CRS Australia gives you advice on how to:
• Find the right job
• Apply for jobs
• Get ready for interviews.
CRS Australia can arrange training and work experience.
• Personal support that is sensitive to your needs
• Help to look for the right type of work
• Support to get the skills and experience you need.
To ﬁnd out more telephone Freecall™1800 624 824.
Newstart Allowance is a payment to help people as they
look for or get ready for work. To qualify for Newstart you
• aged 21 years or over and under Age Pension age
• willing to enter into, and comply with or vary an
existing Preparing for Work Agreement, and
• looking for work (satisfy the Activity Test).
There are other conditions that may apply, so talk to
Centrelink to ﬁnd out if you are eligible.
Disability Employment Services
Provide employment assistance to customers with
disabilities, including open employment services,
supported employment services, vocational
rehabilitation services, wage subsidies, workplace
modiﬁcations and the supported wage system. For more
information, phone Centrelink on 13 2717.
Part-time and casual work
If you do any part-time or casual work you must tell
Centrelink about any income you have earned on the
fortnightly form relevant to when you earned the money
or within 14 days. You may also be able to report your
employment income via the Centrelink website at
www.centrelink.gov.au or by phone. We use this
information to calculate your correct rate of payment.
If you’ve done some seasonal work, and then claim
payment from Centrelink, you may have to wait to be
paid depending on the amount of money you earned
while working; this is called the Seasonal Work
Seasonal work can include:
• Fruit picking
• Harvest work
• Shearing, or
• Work in an industry affected by shutdowns.
Employment Entry Payment
Ask Centrelink about Employment Entry Payment that
assists when starting full-time employment.
Career Planning Programs
Provides assistance to job seekers who are having
trouble deciding on a career. For more information,
phone Centrelink on 13 2850.
Special Employment Advance
Assists customers who are taking up employment to
pay for things they might need when starting a job. This
money is an interest-free loan and has to be repaid.
Once you get a job, you may be required to undertake
a pre-employment check. The Health Services Australia
Group (HSA Group) is a Department of Human Services
company and is a leading provider of workplace and
travel health services. A pre-employment check may
involve providing your health history and a medical
Working Credit encourages working-age people who get
income support payments to take up casual, part-time
or full-time work by allowing them to keep more of
their payments when they get some work. You build up
credits when you are not working and have little income.
Then when you start working, your credits are used to
increase the amount you can earn before your payment
starts to reduce.
Do you want to study or
ABSTUDY is a payment that helps Indigenous people
who want to stay at school or go on to further studies.
ABSTUDY may help you if you are an Aboriginal or Torres
Strait Islander and studying:
• at primary school and you are aged 14 or over at
1 January of the year you study
• at secondary school
• full time or part time after having left school
• a Masters or Doctorate course.
There are extra entitlements if you are studying full time.
Assistance for Isolated Children
The Assistance for Isolated Children scheme assists
families of students who do not have reasonable daily
access to an appropriate government school. It aims
to ensure that all Australian children have access to a
Youth Allowance is a payment that helps families by
encouraging and supporting young people to study, train
or look for work. The payment is based on how much
money you or your family make. Youth Allowance is for:
• full time students aged 16 to 24
• full time New Apprentices (apprentices or trainees)
aged 16 to 24
• people 16 to 20 who are looking for full-time work,
doing both part-time study and looking for work, or
young people who are ill
• full-time students aged over 25 who were getting
Youth Allowance before turning 25 and who are still
doing the same course
• 15 year olds who have reached school leaving age
and are considered to be independent.
Lawful Custody Allowance
Lawful Custody Allowance helps with study expenses
for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers
Language, Literacy and Numeracy
Assists with speaking, reading, writing or basic maths
skills. Under this program, customers may be able to
receive a fortnightly supplement. For more information,
phone Centrelink or visit www.dest.gov.au
Career Information Centres
Provide useful information on training courses, entry
to educational institutions, careers and employment.
For more information, phone Centrelink on 13 2850.
New Enterprise Incentive Scheme
Provides services and nationally recognised training
for eligible job seekers who want to start their own
business. For more information, visit www.nna.asn.au
A scheme that combines practical work and training
leading to a nationally recognised qualiﬁcation.
People under this scheme can be apprentices or
trainees. For more information, phone 1800 639 629 or
New Apprenticeship Access Programme
Assists eligible people to receive the training and
support they need to get a New Apprenticeship. For
more information, phone Centrelink on 13 3633 or visit
Education Entry Payment
Ask Centrelink about Education Entry Payment that
assists with the up-front costs of studying.
Needing help in a crisis?
A Crisis Payment is a special one-off payment from
Centrelink. A Crisis Payment may be paid where:
• You have been forced to leave your home and
need to set up a new home because of an extreme
circumstance such as domestic violence or a
• You have been released from prison or a correctional
centre after being imprisoned for at least 14 days
following a conviction for an offence.
In either situation, to be eligible for a payment, you
must be in severe ﬁnancial hardship and must make
a claim within seven days of the event that has forced
you to leave your home, or the date you were released
You must also be receiving, or be eligible to receive a
payment from Centrelink, including Parenting Payment,
Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Disability Support
Pension and Age Pension. A Crisis Payment is not
available if you are receiving ABSTUDY. A Crisis Payment
is equal to one week of your basic Centrelink payment.
Note: You will not be eligible for a Crisis Payment if your
only entitlement from Centrelink is a Family Tax Beneﬁt
payment or Child Care Beneﬁt.
Do you need help after one of your mob
Centrelink may be able to help you during this difﬁcult
time. They will be able to refer you to support services
and assist you with payment enquiries.
What if one of ‘our mob’ passes away?
Widow Allowance—has been phased out from
1 July 2005. All new grants after that will only be made
to women born on or before 1 July 1955.
Are you ill, injured or do you
have a disability?
If you are aged 16 or older but under Age Pension age
and your disability, illness, or injury stops you from
working for at least two years, you may be able to get
a Disability Support Pension. If you are permanently
blind you may also be able to get a Disability Support
Pension. You cannot get the payment at the same time
as another payment from Centrelink.
If you are aged 21 or over (but under Age Pension age)
and you have a job or are getting ABSTUDY and you
cannot carry out your usual work or study due to illness,
injury or disability you may get Sickness Allowance.
If you are aged 16 or over and undertake certain
activities such as paid work, vocational training,
voluntary work or any combination of these and are
unable to use public transport without extra help
because of your illness, injury or disability, you may also
get Mobility Allowance. There does not need to be public
transport available in your area for you to qualify.
Are you caring for someone?
If you are caring for someone who is frail, aged, ill or has
a disability you may get:
• a Carer Allowance, or
• a Carer Payment.
Hearing tests and hearing aids
Australian Hearing provides hearing tests and hearing
aids free of charge (except for a small annual fee for
battery supply and hearing aid repairs) to:
• all children up to 21 years of age
• all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged
50 and over
• all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
participating in CDEP
• all Pensioner Concession Card holders
• people referred from CRS Australia and
• most veterans.
Australian Hearing can also provide:
• special support for babies and children
• advice on living with a hearing loss
• attend ear health meetings and workshops in
• undertake ear health care training for health workers
in community medical services.
Australian Hearing has permanent and visiting Hearing
Centres in all capital cities and many regional and
small towns as well as providing visiting services to
many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
To ﬁnd out how to get an appointment or for more
information, please call 13 1797 to be connected to
your nearest Australian Hearing Centre. If you would
like to be seen as part of the outreach program, talk to
Australian Hearing to ﬁnd the closest community visiting
site and visiting times.
About to retire or in retirement?
The Age Pension is a safety net for older people who are
not able to fully provide for themselves in retirement.
It is paid so people who have reached Age Pension
age have adequate income. The qualifying age for men
is 65. Depending on dates of birth, the qualifying age for
women ranges from 60 to 65.
Help with paying your bills and
meeting your living and health
Centrepay is a voluntary and easy way for you to pay
some of your bills and stay in control of your money. It
is a free, direct bill paying service offered to customers
receiving a payment from Centrelink. It can be used
for payment of ongoing expenses such as rent, gas,
electricity, water, council rates, ambulance services,
education fees and costs towards funeral beneﬁt
schemes, or legal aid fees.
Instead of having large bills every month or quarter,
your bills are paid in manageable amounts out of your
payment from Centrelink, making it easier for you to
budget. You can start, stop or change the amount being
taken out of your payment at anytime including putting
the payments on hold over periods such as Christmas.
Do you need help with your rent?
Rent Assistance may be paid to people getting a
payment from Centrelink. Contact Centrelink to ﬁnd out
if you are eligible.
Utilities Allowance is a payment to help older Australians
with the cost of household bills such as energy, rates,
water and sewerage. Contact Centrelink to ﬁnd out if you
Centrelink offers concession cards to customers who
receive certain payments and meet certain criteria. Your
concession card will save you money on prescriptions
that you get from your doctor and can save you money
on some government and private services.
If you are a Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or a CDEP
Participant Supplement customer you can apply for a low
income Health Care Card.
If you are of Age Pension age, but don’t get an
Age Pension you may be eligible for a Commonwealth
Seniors Health Card and will need to apply to Centrelink.
You need to be enrolled with Medicare to make sure you
get all the beneﬁts you are eligible for. It’s easy to enrol
or to get a new Medicare card if you need one—just
call the Medicare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
access line on 1800 556 955, visit your local health
service or go to your local Medicare ofﬁce.
Your Medicare card is the link to accessing services so
make sure you take it with you to your health service,
doctor, hospital, to get a script ﬁlled at the chemist
or when you go to a Medicare ofﬁce. If you have a
concession card take that with you as well.
Enrol new babies in Medicare as soon as you can—this
will mean your baby is on the Australian Childhood
Immunisation Register. The Immunisation Register is
a national register that records details of vaccinations
given to children under the age of seven who live
Make sure your family is registered for the Medicare
Safety Net as the safety net can save you money—call
1800 556 955 for more information.
For more information visit
Other Support Services
Contact Centrelink for information on accessing these
Financial Information Service
The Financial Information Service (FIS) is a free and
conﬁdential service offered by Centrelink to provide
information to help people improve their standard
of living by making better use of their resources. FIS
ofﬁcers do not give ﬁnancial advice, they can only
provide information to enable their customer to make an
Jobs, Education and Training Advisor
Jobs, Education and Training is a voluntary program
offering support and advice to ﬁnd a place to live, work
out ﬁnances, stay at school, get a job or do training.
Centrelink Psychologists provide assessments of
customers who have signiﬁcant barriers to employment,
education or training. Their role is to guide these
customers to the most appropriate assistance in order
to help them overcome those barriers.
Centrelink Social Workers will listen to you and help in
hard times such as domestic and family violence, money
problems, severe ﬁnancial hardship, homelessness,
when a young person has problems living at home or
when one of your mob passes away. They can also refer
you to other services in the community like housing,
health, emergency relief, legal and/or counselling
services and support groups.
Someone to deal with Centrelink for you
Some Centrelink customers may have difﬁculty managing
their Centrelink affairs, often because of a disability
or illness or problems reading, writing, understanding
information or handling money. If you receive a payment
or service from Centrelink, a Person Permitted to
Enquire or Nominee arrangement is available. Person
Permitted to Enquire (PPE) arrangements provide
for a Centrelink customer to authorise a person or
organisation to make limited enquires only and conﬁrm
information held. A PPE is not a nominee arrangement.
A Nominee arrangement authorises a person or
organisation to enquire, act and make changes on
your behalf and/or receive your Centrelink payment
on your behalf. A form is available for customers
interested in such arrangements contact Centrelink for
Assists young people 12–18 years (and their families)
who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. For more
information, visit www.facs.gov.au
Accessing Centrelink services for yourself
Centrelink’s internet (online) and phone self service
options let you choose how you want to talk to us.
For more information visit www.centrelink.gov.au
Call 13 6240 for more information.
How to contact us
Phoning Centrelink is the quickest way to let us know
you want to put in a form, get a claim package or ﬁnd
out more information.
Some tips when phoning:
• Stay on the line—try not to hang up and redial, you
may wait longer.
• Have your details ready—it helps if you have your
Customer Reference Number and any letter you want
to talk about with you when you ring.
• Have a pen and paper ready to take notes.
• We can’t give you details about other people, even
family members—unless you have written permission
or they are with you when you call.
Visit a Centrelink Customer Service Centre.
To save time, call 13 1021 to make an appointment, or
the phone number related to your payment.
Centrelink has regular visiting services to rural and
remote areas. For more information about visiting
services, call us or ask at a Centrelink Customer
Go to our website at www.centrelink.gov.au
Write to us
Our address is usually on any letters we send you.
For more information refer to the White Pages for the
address of your nearest ofﬁce.
Useful telephone numbers
Looking for work (21 and over) 13 2850
Also includes self employed or a farmer and needing
help in a crisis
Planning for or needing help in retirement
or needing help after someone has died 13 2300
Someone who is ill, injured or has
a disability 13 2717
Caring for someone who is frail aged, ill or who has
Parent or guardian 13 6150
Separated or divorced
Family Assistance Ofﬁce
Studying or training 13 2490
Includes looking for work (under 21), Youth Allowance,
Austudy and Pensioner Education Supplement
ABSTUDY 13 2317
Payments for New Apprentices 13 3633
Assistance for Isolated Children 13 2318
Farmer Assistance Freecall™1800 050 585
Australian Government Services
Fraud Tip-off Line 13 1524
or report a suspected fraud through the internet at
For more information or to make
an appointment 13 1021
Customer Relations Freecall™1800 050 004
Includes complaints, compliments and suggestions
TTY* customer relations Freecall™1800 000 567
TTY* payment enquiries Freecall™1800 810 586
*TTY is only for people who are deaf or have a hearing
or speech impairment. A TTY phone is required to use
Financial Information Service
Seminar bookings 13 6357
Financial Information Services (FIS) 13 2300
Your Right to Privacy 1300 363 992
Indigenous Wage Assistance Freecall™1802 102
Indigenous Call Centre 13 6380
Important: Calls to ‘13’ numbers from a standard
telephone service can be made from anywhere within
Australia for not more than the cost of a local call (call
charges may vary depending upon the telephone service
provider). Calls to ‘1800’ numbers are free of charge.
Calls from public and mobile telephones may be charged
at a higher rate.
Department of Human Services
agencies and their contact
Child Support Agency
1800 624 824
Health Services Australia
1300 361 046
1800 556 955
The information contained in this publication is intended
only as a guide to payments available.
What are your responsibilities?
• It is your responsibility to decide if you wish to apply
for a payment and to make the application, having
regard to your particular circumstances.
• The information is accurate as at March 2006, but
may of course change. If you use this publication
after that date, please check with Centrelink that the
dettails are up to date.
From what date are beneﬁts payable?
Most government payments are paid from, or after, the
date on which the application is made. So the sooner
you lodge your application the quicker you may be paid.
What is the position if you deal with a third party?
You may deal with a third party who is not a member
of Centrelink’s staff. If you do so, please remember
that Centrelink has not authorised any third parties to
provide information or advice to you about payments.