Securing your finances and future - steps to take and where to go for help.

3a. Centrelink support payments and services

Est. read time: 6 min

Affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The best option for everyone’s health and safety is to do as much as possible online, or over the phone.  You no longer have to attend a Centrelink office with ID to register, or wait on the phone. You can now prove your identity over the phone and lodge an intent to claim online through MyGov.

If you are new to Centrelink, new streamlined processes have been implemented to register for Centrelink payments online.  Centrelink will then contact you directly to confirm your identity, give you a Customer Reference Number (CRN) and a linking code to set up your access to your Centrelink online account.  The next step is to finalise your claim.  A video describing the process can be viewed on Youtube.

Centrelink services can be accessed online, by phone, or by visiting a service centre. Specialist services (social work and financial information) are now only available online or by phone.

Response to COVID-19:  JobSeeker Payment

The new JobSeeker Payment started on 20 March 2020 and is now the main income support payment if you are between 22 and Age Pension age.   To get JobSeeker you have to meet the income and assets tests.

The JobSeeker payment is available to:

  • employees stood down or let go;
  • sole traders, self employed, casual workers and contract workers who’s income has been effected as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus; and
  • those caring for someone who’s affected by the Coronavirus

Response to COVID-19:  Support for Individuals and Households

  • The Coronavirus Supplement of $250 per fortnight is available to recipients of JobSeeker Payment and other eligible income support payments until 31 December 2020.
  • If you are eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement, this will automatically be paid to you – there is no need to contact Centrelink

Response to COVID-19:  Changes to Claims and Your Obligations

Earlier in the year, the government suspended mutual obligation requirements. However, in all Australian states other than Victoria you must now meet your mutual obligation requirements.  Full details of your obligations, and circumstances under which you might receive an exemption, are on the Services Australia website.

Response to COVID-19:  Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment

The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package ended on 12 July 2020, and the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and the Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) recommenced.   Families will again need to pay the gap fee (child care fee after subsidies).  For families who were getting CCS before 6 April 2020, and who have remained eligible and enrolled, the CCS will start again automatically.  If your circumstances have changed or your family was not previously accessing child care you should contact Centrelink as soon as possible.  More information can be found on the Australian Government Department of Education website.

Response to COVID-19 :  JobKeeper Payment

Businesses that are significantly impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a wage subsidy in the form of the JobKeeper Payment to reimburse them for payments made to eligible employees.  This payment is passed on to the employees (regardless of whether they previously earned more or less than the amount of the subsidy) by the employer minus any tax withheld by the employer at the relevant rate

From 28 September 2020, the JobKeeper payment reduced to $1,200 per fortnight, and to $750 per fortnight for those earning less than 20 hours per week. The rate will fall again on 4 January 2021 to $1,000 per fortnight and to $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours per week.

You can find information for employees about JobKeeper at the Australian Tax Office website.

Support Payments when in a crisis


Crisis Payments: a one off payment available if you are in severe financial hardship because you have experienced an extreme circumstance, including family and domestic violence. Important: you must apply for or register your intent to claim within 7 days of the event that led you to claim, for example the day you decided to leave home, or you decided not to have your partner home. You will also be referred to a social worker to provide short-term counselling and refer you to other services as needed. Find more information at the Crisis Payments section of the Services Australia website.

Special Benefits: A payment if you're in severe financial hardship and are not eligible for other income support from Centrelink. This payment is usually available for non-Australian citizens who are permanent residents or hold an approved visa. You can claim this payment for yourself OR for a child if you have custody and can't get any income or family support payments because you are not a permanent resident and your child is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Find out more information at the Special Benefits section of the Services Australia website.

Support Payments if you care for a child


Support payments are available if you are:

  1. a legal parent, which includes being a birth parent, adopted parent, married to the birth parent when the child was born, or a parent recognised under the Family Law Act 1975 (to do with surrogacy); or
  2. a non-parent carer of a child – someone who cares for the child at least 128 nights a year and is not in a relationship with either parent.

Family Tax Benefit: a tax subsidy to help with the cost of raising children, subject to an income test, and available for single parents, a non-parent carer, and grandparent carers. Find out more at the Family Tax Benefit section of the Services Australia website.

Child Support: An ongoing periodic payment made by a parent to another parent or non-parent carer for the benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. The arrangement may include a parenting plan. Payment will cease if the parents have reconciled for 6 months or more. Find out more at the Child Support Services section of the Services Australia website.

If you are concerned that asking for child support puts you at risk, call the Centrelink Families Line and speak to a social worker. The Families Line numbers and other useful numbers can be found on the Centrelink phone numbers page.

Parenting Payments: If you care for a child under 8 years old (if single) or under 6 (if you're partnered) this payment acts as an income support payment while you're a young child's main carer. Find out more at the Parenting Payments section of the Services Australia website.

Assistance with the Cost of Child Care: If you and your child meet the eligibility criteria, a Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will be paid directly to your child care provider.  If you are eligible for the CCS, you may also qualify for an Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) if you meet the eligibility criteria for the Grandparent Subsidy, the Transition to Work Subsidy or the Temporary Financial Hardship Subsidy.  Carers of children exposed to domestic violence, may also be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy under the child wellbeing category.

Income Support Payments


Job Seekers: Income support and other help if you're looking for work or completing approved studies to help you get a job.  Find out more at the Job Seekers section of the Services Australia website.

Youth Allowance:  Financial help if you’re 24 or younger and a student or Australian Apprentice, or 21 or younger and looking for work.

Low Income Health Card: A concession card to get cheaper health care and some discounts if you're on a low income. Find out more at the Low Income Health Card section of the Services Australia Website.

Rent Assistance: if you qualify for another Centrelink payment, and also pay rent, you may be eligible for a regular extra payment. Find out more at the Rent Assistance section of the Services Australia website

Other services offered by Centrelink


Social Work Services: Centrelink also have social workers offering counselling, support and information. Social workers can also direct you to other support and services. You can contact a social worker by calling the Centrelink Employment Services Line on 132 850 and ask to speak to a social worker, or visit a service centre in person. Find out more at the Social Work Services section of the Services Australia website.

Job Search Services: A range of services provided to help you in your search for a job. Centrelink service centres provide access to computers and printers, and provide information on looking for a job. Find out more at the Job Search service section of the Services Australia website.

In order to receive certain payments, you may have mutual obligation requirements. Mutual obligation requirements mean you may need to apply for jobs, do training or study in order to qualify for a support payment. You may get exemptions from the mutual obligation requirements if you are homeless or facing domestic violence. Read more about mutual obligation requirements and exemptions for family and domestic violence.

A complete list of all the Centrelink payments and services can be found at the Centrelink website.

Information about Centrelink online and setting up a myGov account can be found at 1f. Centrelink online and setting upMyGov.

Scams by people purporting to be Centrelink


Be wary of scams by people contacting you, pretending to be from Centrelink, to seek money or information from you.  Centrelink will only contact you under certain circumstances and in certain ways, and has provided advice on How to protect against scams.

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