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Your Family and Centrelink

The Department of Human Services provides social, health and other payments and services through Centrelink and Medicare. These will vary depending on the needs of each individual and family. Contact Centrelink immediately for assistance if your circumstances change, for example, if you have a child, lose your job or become ill.

Centrelink assists people to become more self-sufficient and helps people to find a job, while supporting those in need. Centrelink also supports those who require special assistance during different life stages, such as planning for retirement or experiencing illness or a crisis
Confirming your identity

At Centrelink you will need to provide documents to confirm your identity ( – for example, passport and travel documents, bank account details or accommodation details.
Help in other languages
Information in other languages

Centrelink has a range of translated information at about payments and services that you can read, watch or listen to.

Centrelink has a suite of New to Australia videos available in 10 languages covering topics such as payments, looking for work, Medicare card and Health Care Card. You can access these videos at
Multilingual Phone Service

If you speak a language other than English you can call our multilingual phone service on 131 202 (8am – 5pm local time) and speak to someone in your language about Centrelink payments and services.

If you do not speak English, Centrelink can provide an interpreter for your appointment, free of charge. To arrange a translator call 131 202 or ask at your local Centrelink Service Centre.
Translation of your documents

Centrelink can arrange to translate documents that you need to help you make a claim for our payments and services for free. Call 131 202 or ask at your local Centrelink Service Centre
Multicultural Service Officers

Multicultural Services Officers (see provide information about Centrelink’s programs and services to migrant and refugee communities, and consult widely to help improve services.
Centrelink letters

You must read all letters Centrelink sends you and respond if necessary. Call 131 202 if you need a letter explained in your language.
Help dealing with Centrelink

You can nominate another person or organisation (a ‘nominee‘), to act on your behalf. See

Centrelink waiting periods

All recently arrived residents or temporary migrants (except refugees or humanitarian entrants) must wait 104 weeks (the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period) before receiving most payments and benefits. The Waiting Period does not apply to family assistance payments (see Payments for Families). For more information see

The duration of the waiting period and to whom it applies varies according to the type of benefit and the date of arrival in Australia. Periods spent in Australia as an Australian resident at any time in your life count towards the waiting period.

During the waiting period, you can register with jobactive to get help finding work. You can also use the employment self-help facilities available in Centrelink Service Centres.
Exemptions from the Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period

Exemptions from the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period apply to:

Australian citizens.
family members of an Australian citizen or long-term resident.
a person or the family member of a person who arrived under a humanitarian program.
holders of certain visa subclasses.

If you are in hardship because of a substantial change of circumstances, you may be able to get a special benefit immediately. Losing or not being able to find a job is not normally considered to be a substantial change of circumstances. Lodge a claim with Centrelink to find
out if you are eligible.
Qualifying residence requirement

Pensions and some allowances do not have a newly arrived resident’s waiting period, but have ‘qualifying residence’ waiting periods:

Parenting Payment and Widow Allowance: 104 weeks.
Age Pension and Disability Support Pension: 10 years.

There are some exceptions, for example, if you are a refugee or humanitarian entrant, or you become widowed, disabled or a sole parent after becoming an Australian resident.

You may be eligible for the pension if you have lived in a country that has an international social security agreement with Australia covering the payment you are claiming. Australia has social security agreements with 29 countries, listed at

For more information about pensions, including claiming overseas pensions or claiming Australian pensions while overseas, go to
Claiming Centrelink payments

To claim a social security payment, you must register an ‘Intent to Claim’. This informs Centrelink you intend to apply for a payment. It can be done online, in person or by phone by you or someone on your behalf.

If your application is approved, your payment or concession card starts from the day you registered the Intent to Claim (if you qualify for the payment or concession card on that date and you return your completed claim form within 14 days).

Most Centrelink payments are only available to people who are living in Australia and who are Australian residents (go to

Certain temporary visa holders may be eligible, depending on the payment type. You may need to meet a qualifying residence period or Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period, unless exempt. Other waiting periods may also apply. See Centrelink waiting periods.

You must have a tax file number (TFN) in order to receive income support payments.

The table below identifies what payments you may be eligible to receive, based on your situation:

A full list of Centrelink payments is at
Payments for families

If you have dependent children, Centrelink provides a range of payments to support families with their work and family responsibilities.

For more information:

The assistance you may be entitled to will depend on your family circumstances, including the age and number of children and your family’s income.

Generally, you must hold a permanent visa and live in Australia in order to be eligible to receive family assistance payments, but there are some exceptions.

New Zealand citizens (who are not Australian citizens)

People arriving in Australia on a New Zealand passport are generally issued a Special Category Visa (SCV) on arrival. For Australian social security purposes, SCV holders who were in Australia on 26 February 2001 are generally considered to be “protected” SCV holders. Those who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 are generally considered to be not “protected”.

“Protected” SCV holders are Australian residents and can access all Centrelink payments, if they currently reside in Australia and meet the eligibility criteria, including waiting periods
SCV holders who are not “protected” are not Australian residents. They cannot generally access income support payments.

All SCV holders can access family assistance and concession cards if they satisfy the rules and any waiting periods.

SCV holders who are not “protected” but who have lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years since 26 February 2001 may be able to access a once-only payment of Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance or Youth Allowance. Payments to eligible recipients occur for
a maximum continuous period of up to six months.

The Social Security Agreement between Australia and New Zealand may entitle some SCV holders to the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension or Carer Payment, regardless of whether or not they are “protected”.

More information for New Zealand citizens is at
Crisis Payment for refugees and humanitarian entrants

The Crisis Payment is a one-off payment for people who have experienced extreme circumstances. You must claim within seven days of arriving in Australia or contact Centrelink with an ‘Intent to Claim’ within seven days of arrival and lodge a claim within 14 days of that

For more information go to the Crisis Payment fact sheet at crisispayment
Other Centrelink services

Centrelink offers many services, including:

Concessions for low income earners

Depending on income, employment, age or Centrelink payment type, people with a low income can be entitled to concessions from federal, state/territory and local governments as well as private businesses. The concessions may cover health, household expenses,
education and transport. For more information go to and search for “low income”.
Change of circumstances

If there are changes to your family, work or lifestyle situation you must inform Centrelink as soon as possible to ensure you receive the correct payment. If you are paid more than you are eligible for, you may have to pay back some or all of your payment.

Some changes you need to tell Centrelink about are:

personal and contact details
bank details
relationship status
care arrangements for anyone in your care, including your children
work status
leaving the country, temporarily or permanently
getting a lump sum payment
income or assets increase or decrease, including your partner's income and assets
starting or finishing studying.

Definition of a partner

It is important to tell Centrelink whether you are a single person or you have a partner. This is sometimes called being a ‘member of a couple’. Most payments will take into account the combined income and assets of both members of a couple. Some payments have different rates, depending on whether you are single or have a partner. Some payments are only available to people who do not have a partner.
Reviews and appeals

If you are not happy with a decision, contact Centrelink to have it reviewed at There are processes for dealing with reviews and appeals.
Privacy of your information

Your personal information can only be released by Centrelink if it is permitted by law, or if you have given permission.
Young people

If you have children older than 16 years, they may be eligible for payments such as Youth Allowance or Family Tax Benefit. See also Services for Young People.
Assurance of Support

An Assurance of Support (see is a legally binding agreement between an Australian resident or organisation (the ‘assurer’) and the Australian Government. The assurer agrees to provide support to the migrant (the ‘assuree’) in Australia so that the assuree does not need to rely on government payments.

An Assurance of Support can last for two or 10 years, depending on the type of visa granted. If you or your dependants claim certain welfare payments while covered by an Assurance of Support agreement, the assurer must repay the full amount to the Government.

For more information please go to 

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