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What does Centrelink do in Australia?

Last Updated at December 3rd 2021
Centrelink is the Australian Government organisation which delivers social security payments and services. It is run by the Services Australia department and operates in every State and Territory across the country.

Key points

  • Centrelink provides social security payment to people who need financial support

  • There are requirements around these payment and reporting your circumstances

  • You can contact Centrelink in a variety of ways including by phone, online, on social media, by post, by fax, or in person

Call now for an obligation-free chat regarding Financial Services options for you or your loved one with a financial services expert.
Sign above the outside of a Centrelink office.
Payments managed by Centrelink are designed to assist people who are disadvantaged for a number of reasons. [Source: Shutterstock]

You might be in contact with Centrelink for payments like the Age Pension or Carer Allowance, or for other services such as child support.

Payments managed by Centrelink are designed to assist people who are disadvantaged for a number of reasons.

For example, people who have retired but have not been able to save enough money to self-fund their retirement, or others who are unable to work enough to afford a basic standard of living - due to injury, disability or health conditions.

Centrelink can help you to pay for the costs of living, including food, electricity, housing rent, and engaging in the community if you don’t have enough income to be able to afford them alone.

Payments from Centrelink can also help with more specific costs for older Australians, like the cost of continence aids,  the costs of caring for another person, concessions for health services and medication and loans to supplement your retirement income.

Once you find out what support Centrelink can give you, it’s likely you will be in contact with the organisation regularly, as you will need to report any changes in your circumstances to make sure Centrelink doesn’t pay you more than what you are entitled to.

Any income you earn, either from sources based in Australia or overseas, needs to be accurately reported to Centrelink so your payment rates can be calculated.

If you are paid too much, Centrelink will request that you pay back the amount you were not entitled to, which is known as a Centrelink debt.

Call the Centrelink debt recovery line, 1800 076 072, if you need to speak to someone about repaying a debt.

The Centrelink website offers a number of other ways to contact the organisation, including via phone call on the older Australians line 132 300, on social media, by fax on 1300 786 102 or by post; Reply Paid 7800, Canberra BC, ACT 2610. To visit a Centrelink office in person, you can find the closest location to you and book an appointment by searching with your postcode here.

Centrelink also has a mobile phone app linked to your online account, which you sign into via myGov.

The online account, whether you use it through the internet on a computer or through your mobile phone application, can be used to change your contact details - which needs to be done as soon as they change, for example if you move to a new address.

You can also view, print and save documents you may need from your online account - such as forms for Deduction Statements, Statement of debt and for a Replacement Concession Card.

Reporting changes in your circumstances or income - or your partner’s income - can be done using your online account. You can use the reporting section of the account to track how many hours you work, so that your payments can be calculated correctly, or you can use the Centrelink reporting line, 133 276, to update your income details.

What else do you want to know about Centrelink? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:
Benefits and entitlements for retirees and seniors
Financial hardship options for older people
Your Age Pension Explainer: What you need to know

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