Closest Centrelink: 1296 Albany Highway, Cannington
The worst way to deal with Centrelink is to call them. The call centres are so underfunded that you’ll probably be waiting for hours; especially during the start of the year when all the first years are applying for it. Our advice: start applying about three months ago.
To start claiming youth allowance visit humanservices.gov.au to create an account and apply. You will need a lot of documentation about your parents’ income and assets, and you will need proof of identity. Under the age of 22, Centrelink is dependent on your parents’ income, so if they earn too much you won’t be eligible for the allowance—you’ll have to wait until you’re 22 and considered independent. You also need to be studying at least 75% of a full-time study load to get Youth Allowance—at Curtin, this is 75 Credit points or at least three full units.
If you qualify for Centrelink, you also have the option to get a $1,000 student start-up loan for books and other expenses every semester. This loan will be added to your HECS debt.
If you have a partner living with you, the rate of Youth Allowance you get is decreased slightly. If they work, you must report their income, and your payment may be significantly reduced.
Lying about living with your partner is risky and you could get caught—see “Top tip 3” on lying to Centrelink. They can discover who lives at your house, and it’s not too hard for them to Facebook stalk you to see if your display picture is of lovebirds kissing, or to peek at your relationship status. If you’re dependent on Youth Allowance income, sometimes it’s best to just live with platonic house mates.
If you do get stuck making a claim, it’s best to go in person rather than sit on the phone all day. They also have computers at Centrelink for you to lodge your claim there if you wish, where they can help you if you get stuck.
Head to https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/centrelink to find out if you qualify.
Top tip 1:
If your parents are separated or divorced, only the one you live with counts toward your ‘parental income’. If you are moving away from home to go to uni, it might be worth picking the one who earns less as your dependent parent, assuming you’re cool with them, so the income assessed is less.
Top tip 2:
If you have saved up money—more than $5,500 if you are single—then you won’t get Centrelink payments until that is gone. I’m not telling you to get rid of it, but you won’t get Centrelink until it is gone.
Top tip 3:
Don’t lie to Centrelink. They can audit you even after you stop receiving it, and force you to pay it back and possibly send you to prison. If you work, report it to Centrelink. They are the government, they can look at your tax earnings if they want to.
Some useful Links
The Housing Advisory Service provides tenancy advice to Curtin students and staff as well as advice on accommodation options. Click here
Protecting the right to housing for all tenants through advocacy, advice and education. Click here
Department of Commerce
Advice for tenants and landlords renting a property, including bonds, rent and maintenance responsibilities. Click here
Sussex Street Community Law Services
Tenancy services at Sussex Street Community Law Service Inc are both in the provision of advocacy and legal education. The community education provides pro-active information to people on tenancy right, tenancy applications, eviction avoidance and eviction processes. Click here
If you are not sure of which services to access, come and talk to Student Assist and we’ll advise you on the best approach.