Dammit, Centrelink.

by Lori Dwyer on September 13, 2013 · 9 comments

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.

Fair enough.

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.

Okay then.

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.


A phonebook sized stack of forms to be filled out. Cheers, Centrelink.

A phonebook sized stack of forms to be filled out. Cheers, Centrelink.


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.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa September 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Oh god I can’t stand them! You can do everything right and by the book and still be wrong! Nothing gets my blood boiling as easily as them.


Anonymous September 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

While I totally understand the pain of dealing with government entities, give thanks for the great system in place! In the states, I dont know if mental health issues would get welfare! Good luck with all that! :)


Michelle Holland September 17, 2013 at 10:09 am

It really is so difficult to deal with them Lori, I feel for you. I had to go on a Disability Pension for my mental health issues and it took 3 MONTHS to get my first payment. They back-paid of course, but what did they think I was living on? Fresh air?
Michelle Holland recently posted…Dealing with sick childrenMy Profile


Suzy Mac September 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Please tell me they didnt ask for copies of ‘your’ birth certificate and drivers licence again?? You’ve moved home not been reincarnated – what are these people on?!
Actually I think they work on the same premise as insurance companies ; being if they put enough hurdles up, you might actually decide it’s not worth it.. When we moved to Melbourne way back and the movers broke our DVD player – to settle the claim, they demanded several photographs showing it not working. We sent several pictures of the DVD player with our fingers on the play button.
Centrelink works like that.
Suzy Mac recently posted…A Woman’s Work…My Profile


Erin September 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Centerlink on-line services should save you paperwork in the future.

Maybe… ??


Kat September 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Totally feel your pain! My husband and I have been on the Centrelink merry go round for a few months now, having graduated from the Centrelink Ferris wheel – a lot slower and less exciting but round and round nonetheless! They are crazy! My husband as a stay at home dad has to log on and report my income every fortnight – why not me?! Stupid! And their online stuff is almost as difficult to deal with as waiting on the phone and then getting someone who knows nothing. I’ve just hung up before when I’ve heard “your expected wait time is longer than 90 minutes…”! Screw that! Urgh. :-/


Chris Johnston September 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Don’t feel bad it’s a legitimate whinge!

I jumped through those hoops once only and when I found out how little we were entitled to I didn’t ever bother with them again.

That said, I truly feel for the parents who rely on our social security system to feed their families. Bloody frustrating!


Liz September 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Ahh the joys of Centrelink! It’s just one massive merry-go-round with them! I worked at Centrelink for three months about eight years ago and I still have no idea how the system works or what my job actually involved! I left when an old man came in and told them he had just discovered himself to be two years younger than he thought, he was given his older brother’s birthdate somehow ( the older brother died before this man was born), he discovered the truth and set about rectifying the situation so Centrelink, in its wisdom, decided to make the poor man pay back thousands of dollars worth of benefits! He was 73 years old for gods sake! Poor old dude. So anyway, good luck!!


Whoa, Molly! September 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Don’t feel bad about whining – all problems are relative and these are yours.

And man, I know all about Centrelink. I’m grateful that we have an awesome social welfare system, but I also know what it’s like trying to navigate it. I’ve never had to do the family thing, but while I was a student they made life pretty much hell for me.

I was damn grateful for the 240 bucks a week they gave me as a student, especially when I lived near my regional uni campus and simply could not find a job. But these ease with which they would just cut my payments off, for months at a time, was pretty alarming. ‘Oh you didn’t get this form in time? Two months of starving and falling behind in the rent while we forget to send it out twice more and then finally get it and take three more weeks to process it. You don’t really need to eat, do you?’


I’m wishing you luck with your latest round of Centrelink wrangling!
Whoa, Molly! recently posted…Outsourcing My Problems To the Internet: Should I move?My Profile


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