God dammit, Centrelink.
Obviously, moving in with The Most Amazing Man has necessitated prolonged and painful communication with Centrelink in its many forms (pun totally intended). It’s continuing to be the source of much stress, frustration, and monotonous box-checking. I know that a fair chunk of my Aussie readers will feel my pain.
For those jellybeans who live overseas, I’ll give you a quick translation of what I’m talking about. Australia has a relatively awesome social welfare system (in comparison to, say, the US). We are lucky enough to get parenting payments and family tax benefits, which mostly come in the form of weekly deposits direct to our bank accounts.
To access those payments, you have to first go through Centrelink, the national agency that correlates and boxes people, and handles the money. I’ve been ‘lucky’, so to speak, for the last few years. I’ve not had to deal with Centrelink much. Someone being dead means they don’t require reassessment often.
Now that I’m partnered again, it’s game on. The amount of information Centrelink requires is startling.
I’m aware that bitching about all of this is the epitome of a first world problem, and I’m a little bit ashamed of myself.
But… well. But nothing, actually. I’m going to bitch anyway.
Being the responsible, not-wanting-to-be-in-debt type of person that I am (hah), I rang Centrelink’s parenting line a week before I made the big move to Melbourne; and waited half hour on hold, to let them know my ‘circumstances would be changing’.
They told me they couldn’t do anything about that until the circumstances had actually changed.
When I rang them again a week later to tell them my circumstances had changed (had being the operative word in that phrase), they told me that they couldn’t do anything about that over the phone, I needed to have an interview at the Centrelink office. The earliest available was ten days away.
Until then, the logical thing to do was cut off my payments completely.
I show up to the interview. The Customer Service Officer “tsk tsk’s” at me, because I don’t have all the (God-forsaken) forms I need. Why didn’t I have them posted to me?
Because they couldn’t update my address until I had this interview. And they couldn’t send the forms to any other address than the one they had on the computer.
The Customer Service Office then handed me a virtual phonebook of forms. No less than eight, actually. And The Most Amazing Man and I set about filling them out and attaching the required documentation.
Drivers licence, passport, birth certificate, rates notice, profit and loss statements, depreciation statements, bank statements, payslips, enrolment certificates. We answered questions about our work and exactly what duties we did (divided up by hour). We answered questions about the TinyTrainHouse, how many toilets it had, and ignored the request for ‘a hand drawn map, should the property be difficult to find’.
And I thought applying for a rental was intrusive.
Anyway. I have five days left in which to bare my soul at the altar of my local Centrelink office, lest they cut me off completely. It feels like sacrificing dignity for money, or something.
First world problem.
Centrelink, I am real tired of your sh*t.