So I’m at Centrelink today [Australian Social Security hole] going through the same-old same-old with them, wishing I had a damned job so’s that I could tell Centrelink to shove their forms up their asses.
Anyhoo, I get roughly $200.00AU a fortnight from them for running around like a guinea pig, trying to find work - [I’d LOVE a job, I’m no dole bludger.] that barely covers my expenses [rent, food, bills etc]. I enquire about rent assistance. Oh sure! I can get that! No problem! As long as I can claim that I’ve been living in a defacto relationship for the past 12 months…I have!
But wait, same-fucking-sex relationships aren’t seen as proper relationships by the federal government in Australia. This makes my blood boil, not only because I have to live off $200.00 a fortnight whilst looking for a job, but because my beautiful relationship isn’t seen as “real” by the government!
I’m absolutely fucking furious! How do I go about notifying the gov. with my rage and general fury? Would they even listen to me? I need a starting point, anyone have any ideas on how to go about this?
And as for Centrelink, they’ll be getting an earfull from me. Can I sue them for discrimination? Or is it even valid seeing as the gov. declares that same-sex relationships aren’t real?
Gimme some advice! I wanna let loose that activist in me.
I doubt that it is a breach of the relevant Anti-Discrimination legislation. But it’s not really my field.
What seems odd to me is why the govt sees one’s need for rent money as being dependant on marital status in the first place. Seems like an odd criterion. Is it generally accepted that singles can sleep on the streets but couples need housing? Dunno.
Are you sure Centrelink advised you right? About 8 years ago I had no problems getting rent assistance as a single person (living in shared household - not bonking any housemates :D)
It was nowhere near the actual amount of my rent, but it sure helped.
Of course they may have changed the rules since then. They like doing that. Or you might be eligible to get MORE money as a defacto (and I’m with Princhester here - what the hell difference does it make? But they do it all the time…)
Have you tried your local MP? Depending what flavour of politician they are (I’m guessing a Labour person would be your best hope) you might find that your case is the sort that might provide a useful stick for a pollie interested in beating the current government up about deficiencies/inconsistencies in the benefits system.
My father lives alone and receives the Aged Pension. He also gets Rent Assistance. I don’t think you need to be in a relationship to receive it.
The fact that same sex relationships aren’t recognised not only sucks big time, but they may be taking it one step further and saying, “Well, if you’re living with another person, and our 1950s minds can’t get around the fact that she’s not called Bob or Steve, then she must be a flatmate, ie. you are receiving some sort of board or rent money from her. So fuck off out of our office.”
Maybe if you go back and just say you are single (yes, I know it’s wrong that you should have to), you might meet with more success from these scumbags.
When I signed on briefly in the UK, the opposite was the problem: your housing benefit was slashed if you were living as a de facto (presumably your poorly paid spouse was supposed to pay all your rent out of his meagre earnings). Cue much trouble for people “stupid” enough to share a flat with someone of the opposite sex. This is one bureaucratic area where being in a same sex relationship was actually a boon (although due to the same crappy attitude that same sex partnerships aren’t “real”).
Good luck in your situation btw - I would head back to the office and show them the manual.
Broken Doll, if you simply proceed on the basis that Centrelink are drooling morons who will tell you anything to make you go away, you’ll get further. I’ve had people try to backdate legislation to tell me I could not apply for assistance.
There was also my recent charming experience where they took 9 weeks to decline a Carer Allowance and then refused to backdate my Parenting Allowance on the grounds that if I hadn’t rung them up on a weekly basis I obviously didn’t need the money. I won that battle <EG>.
I’m guessing you fall into the under 25 category and you need to prove that you really are independent of your parents. Ask them how to do that. Ring the Welfare Rights people – 3847 5532 and ask them for advice. Ask Centrelink to cite the precise piece of legislation that means you cannot claim any rent assistance. Another technique I’ve used is to ask them to photocopy my file. Strangely enough, they don’t want to do this ;). It can make them suddenly find a way to help you just to make you go away.
I hate to tell you this doll, but one of the peculiarities of our Social Security legislation not recognising same sex relationships as “real” means that if you are in a same sex relationship because your partner doesn’t legally exist in terms of the Social Security Act, their income, assets, etc cannot be taken into account when determining your entitlements.
And yes, unless you are living in government housing you are most certainly entitled to rent assistance if you are paying over a given amount of rent per week - you’re entitled to it even if you are paying the rent to the owner and the owner lives in the same house. You need to get the person to whom you pay your rent to fill out a specific form from Centrelink. If you have any problems, complain loud and long in your local office and contact your local welfare rights centre.
Please bear in mind that Centrelink is a service delivery agency and that when you phone or go in there your “first contact” people are not directly employed by the Department of Social Security or DEETYA. They cannot refuse to let you talk to an authorised review officer - insist on doing so.
Thanks for the replies everyone, you’ve all helped me greatly.
I need to tell you a few more details about what I’ve done regarding this issue:
I’ve talked to Centrelink at least 4 times about why I’m not eligible for Rent Assistance.
I’ve submitted forms numerous times with proof that I’m paying a certain amount of rent per week AND have even shown them a tenants agreement and so forth.
I’m currently getting Youth Allowance, not Newstart.
Steps I’ve taken:
I’ve written a letter to the local labor senate with my views on this issue and so forth. He specialises in the area of social security benefits, so he’d better listen or there’ll be hell to pay.
I’m going to ask Centrelink for a copy of my file.
And I’m going to call the Welfare Rights people to get some answers.
What else do I need to do? It seems that the problem isn’t really with Centrelink but with the Federal Government. If there were laws stating that same-sex relationships were valid, then there wouldn’t be such a big deal being made over it from my end. I’m just really angry at the moment that there is nothing being done by politicians to change this law.
I thought living with a de facto partner DECREASED the rent assistance you could receive. Your same-sex relationship would therefore be an advantage since your partnership isn’t recognised by the government.
I remember reading something about our gay Western Australian senator who was able to claim a high social security entitlement because Centrelink didn’t take account of his de facto relationship with his male partner.
Narrad, i understand that one of the changes to youth allowance that Howard introduced a few years ago was to qualify for the assistance, you had to show independence from your parents.
i.e, you are supposed to bludge off mummy and daddy until you get a job or you turn 25.
but, our john remembers how back in the fifties, some people were married before that age.
“fine, if you’re married you can get the youth allowance,” he says.
but, these days (as much as it pains canberra’s resident arse-licker to refer to modern times) many people live in defacto relationships.
“so, if you’re in a defacto relationship,” little johnny decides, “you can also get the youth allowance.”
but those awful faggots and poofters? that doesn’t count! there weren’t any of those in the fifties! how dare they! they should all go home and bludge off their parents, and not bother us with their awful un-fifties un-australian notions! maybe if they get themselves a nice sheila they could get some money.
i’m guessing this has something to do with broken doll’s problem - he has to prove his independence from his parents. which he shouldn’t have to do anyway.