How to Apply for Newstart

by Wholesome Rage | 31 March 2020


Editor’s Note: This article was written anonymously. My own contributions have been the formatting, the hosting and the mouseover text - which I have added seeking forgiveness, not permission. Any mistakes made in those areas are wholly mine.

It seems like most of the articles written about this are written by people who haven’t actually done it themselves and boil down to “Go to the site and apply”, so I thought I’d make something a little more helpful if you are wanting a real overview of what to expect. Originally I was going to record every single step and question, but after submitting my claim it wouldn’t let me start another one for that purpose. Which makes sense, and is why I wasn’t expecting it.

If you know how to get to the Centrelink site, feel free to skip past to 3. Start your claim.

1: Log in to MyGov

Head over to my.gov.au, which will bring you to this page.

We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods.

Enter your username or email and password. If you don’t have one click “Create an account” and follow the steps. If you do have one but have forgotten your username or password, click the corresponding links under the input boxes to go through the recovery process.

When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours?

If all goes well and you get to this page, keep your mobile on hand and enter the number they send you. If that doesn’t work, check that you’ve read it properly and haven’t entered in the help desk number 132 307 by mistake, because the code is also a six-digit number. Yes, I know this from experience.

And if I were to cast myself down before you and weep and tell you

They’ve made this pretty idiot-proof from what I can tell, but if you don’t have a Centrelink account linked click the big Register intention to claim button, which will take you to this:

What more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful?

Check your details are right. If they aren’t, well, it doesn’t tell you what to do. There’s probably some place on the MyGov site you can change them and they want you to do a treasure hunt to find it.

Click the check box, then press Continue. I cannot help you with what happens after that because I’d already submitted my claim through Centrelink and didn’t want to mess it up. Probably just a confirmation page telling you to be patient with the government. It’s just so busy handing out cheques to businesses, you have to understand the priorities.

3: Start your claim

For that reason alone we human beings ought to stand before one another as reverently, as reflectively, as lovingly, as we would before the entrance to Hell.

If you have Centrelink linked, click it. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get stuck on this loading screen.

The way is infinitely long, nothing of it can be subtracted.

You can refresh the page (that’s the circle-arrow that should be next to the back and forwards arrows at the top of the screen, in case any Boomers are reading this) which may help, or it might just be overloaded. You’d think the government could solve that problem but I guess they don’t want to upgrade their site too much because it might encourage people to use it.

The cruelty is the point

This is the landing page. Yours will probably look a little different, seeing as you won’t have submitted a claim. They might add a big “CLICK HERE IF YOU WERE PUT OUT ON YOUR ARSE BY THE PANDEMIC” button at some point, but for now I’ll just show the “normal” way to make a claim.

The normal way isn’t very good

Hover over Payments and Claims at the top, then click Make a claim.

The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road.

If you have any history with Centrelink you’ll see it here. This includes Low Income Health Care Cards, Youth Allowance, Disability Pension, etc. I’ve left the top entry unblurred to show the estimated completion date of my claim that was made on the 26th of March.

Anyway, click Make a claim.

It must catch fire if you want to go further.

Even though there’s a global pandemic, unfortunately you do not meet the requirements for assistance after a disaster. So, under Looking for work, click Get started because of course no one could possibly have any reason to be out of a job and not looking for one.

Yes, again

You’ll get this again, probably for longer than before. If it’s taking a while go make a cup of tea or coffee, and if it hasn’t loaded by the time you take your first sip it probably never will. Contemplate ringing Centrelink, but realise the hold music that you will be forced to listen to for hours will drive you mad.

4: Answer questions honestly, and then immediately regret doing so

Here is an incomplete picture of what lies ahead. I strongly recommend getting all of your supporting documents and information beforehand, especially if you’re trying to do this during normal waking hours.

Italics indicate I don’t know the exact option or am summarising it.

Section 1: Personal Details

About Me

My Details  
Name MR / MRS / MS YOUR FULL NAME
Date of Birth XX Month XXXX
Sex Male / Female / X (You can’t change this)
Aboriginal or Torrest Strait Islander Yes / No
Australian South Sea Islander Yes / No
My Other Names  
Other Names Other Name / I have not been known by any other names.
Interpreter Details I do not require an interpreter (Language/interpreter details)
Written Language (Language)
Address Details  
Home Address # Street, Suburb, State, Postcode, Country
Date started living at address XX Month XXXX
Telecommunication Details  
Contact methods for online letter notifications I will be notified of new letters online via Email (probably SMS)
Contact method for electronic messaging I will receive electronic messages via Email (probably SMS)
Home phone number XX XXXX XXXX
Silent Yes / No
Account in my name Yes / No
Mobile phone number XXXX XXX XXX
Silent Yes / No
Account in my name Yes / No
Account belongs to Self / Other Person
Email address (yourname@site.com)
Relationship  
Relationship status  
Relationship status Never married or lived with a partner / Married / Living with a partner

Because I am by my lonesome that’s all I had to answer, but if you answer otherwise I’d say expect to be drilled on how long you’ve been living together and possibly your partner’s income. Leave a comment below if you go through this and can properly elaborate.

Contact requirements

Nominee  
I want to authorise a payment nominee to receive payments on my behalf Yes/No
I want to authorise a correspondence nominee to act / enquire on my behalf Yes/No
Third party permitted to enquire  
Third party permitted to enquire I do want a third party to make enquiries on my behalf / I do not want a third party to make enquiries on my behalf

Naturally, you will have to provide more information if you select Yes to these questions.

Residency

Australian Residence  
Country of birth Country name
Country of citizenship Country name
Residence I am currently living in Australia / I am not currently living in Australia
Lived outside Australia I have not lived outside Australia on a permanent basis / I have lived outside Australia on a permanent basis

Accommodation

Home Ownership  
Type of accommodation I live in a house, unit or flat in private accommodation / I live in a house, unit or flat in public accommodation / Homeless?
Home ownership details I do not own or am not paying a mortgage for the home I am living in / Own home / Paying mortgage

My home is not owned by a trust or company I have an interest in / Is owned by a trust or company I have an interest in

I do not own a home and have to live somewhere else / I do own a home but am living elsewhere
Sold former home I have not sold a former home I owned/I have sold a former home I owned
Life interest I do not have any life interest or formal arrangement entitling me to the right of accommodation for life / I do have that
Paying for accommodation  
Rent or fees Yes / No (Note: because I selected “No” for this, I don’t know what further details it asks but at minimum I’d say it asks for your costs, so you should have those numbers prepared)
Free accommodation Yes / No
Accommodation circumstances (Write in your own answer)
People you are sharing accommodation with  
Living arrangement I share accommodation / I don’t share accommodation

I share accommodation with the owner of the accommodation / I share accommodation with other renters / I am the owner and share accommodation
Name shares my accommodation  
Full Name Person with whom you share a name
Sex Male / Female
Relationship to you Immediate family member / spouse / friend / other
Age XX
Date first stayed XX Month XXXX

Child details

Children in my care  
Children I have no children under 18 in my care / I do have children in my care

Once again, because I don’t have any children in my care I don’t know what else this section asks. Minimum their age and names. Let us know in the comments if you go through this section what details it requires.

Section 2: Circumstance Details

Circumstances

Previous circumstances  
Circumstances prior to claim Self-employed / Employed / Unemployed
Total amount of money $ amount on the day after I last worked
Paid work I have not undertaken paid work in the last 12 months* / _I have taken paid work in the last 12 months
My Seasonal, Contract, or Intermittent Work Details  
Seasonal, contract, or intermittent employer’s name Company name
Employer contact number XXXXXXXXXX
Type of work Seasonal / Contract/ Intermittent
Industry (It gives you a drop-down menu, just pick whatever’s closest)
Period worked XX Month XXXX to XX Month XXXX
Gross amount earned $ amount earned
Allowable deductions I do not have allowable deductions for this work / I do have allowable deductions for this work
Additional Circumstances  
Expecting children I am not expecting to give birth in the next 13 weeks / I am expecting
Other reasons for being unable to work, look for work, or study None / Sickness / Taking care of someone

*Even though I said I was self-employed, this is what it ends up putting in the claim because I haven’t worked for an employer directly

If you say you have worked for an employer in a way that isn’t seasonal, contract or intermittent they will ask you for a Separation Certificate.

I believe you can put off supplying it until later, but if you do have that certificate get it prepared for upload.

And no, unfortunately there is no “self-isolation” option for reasons you can’t work.

Section 3: Financial Details

Personal instructions

Your payment destination  
Payment destination JobSeeker Payment
Bank/Institution Bank BSB number
Account number XXXXXXXXX
Account name Your account name
Your tax details  
Tax file number The Department of Human Services has my tax file number. The Department of Human Services will use my tax file number for this claim. / Manually enter your number
Tax deductions Nil / Have Centrelink withold tax from your payments

Savings

Savings*  
Account Account name and details
Balance $ amount
Your share Amount %
Amount of cash on hand** I have no cash on hand / $ amount
Your share Amount %

*Note: you will have to fill this out for all your accounts if you have more than one. And keep those statements on hand because you’re going to have to upload them for proof later.

**This is not your literal cash on hand, think people who keep their money in safes or convert it to gold bars. I don’t know why they bother asking this question because I kinda doubt anyone like that would subject themselves to this process, and even if they did, pretty hard to investigate if they’re lying short of an AFP raid.

Shares

Shares  
Stock/security holding AAA (Three letter stock code)
Any Australian stock exchange
(They also ask about stocks on other exchanges so if you have that, prepare to provide details)
Number of shares Number of your shares for that holding
Your share Amount %

You’ll have to provide these details for all of the shares you hold and statements to prove it.

Sole Trader and Partnership Businesses

Business  
Business type Non-farming sole trader / Farming sole trader /Partnership
Business name Your business name (if you’re a sole trader and haven’t registered a name, it’s just your full name)
Business address Your business’s address
Who is involved Myself / Other people
Still operating Yes / No
Stopped operating XX Month XXXX (only answer if you asked “No” to the previous entry)
Reason stopped operating (Write in your reason)
Intent to resume operating Yes / No
Working in business I am currently working in the business / I am not currently working in the business
Business, cont’d.  
Hours worked Number of hours worked
Others help to run the business? No / Yes (I assume if you say yes you must provide details)
Depreciation schedule I do not have a depreciation schedule for this business / I do have a depreciation schedule for this business
Balance sheet I do not have a balance sheet for this business / I do have a balance sheet for this business
Business was operating all of last financial year? Yes / No
Income tax return completed The income tax returns for last financial year have been completed / The income tax returns for last financial year have not been completed
Business owns real estate This business does not own real estate / This business does own real estate
Income different from last income tax return or profit and loss statement Yes / No
Assets and liabilities different from balance sheet Yes / No
Other Assets  
Description (Write in your description of the asset, e.g. Toyota Hilux 2015, Laser cutting machine, etc.)
Net asset value $ amount
My share Amount %

I don’t have a car so I just put “Household and personal effects” in this section and came up with a number for the value. This is the one thing they don’t ask you to prove so don’t worry too much about it, I’d say it’s just for big stuff.

Investments  
Income streams I do not receive income from any income stream products / I do receive income from any income stream products
Shares I have shares in a public company / I have shares in a private company / I do not have shares
Managed Investments I do not have any managed investments in or outside Australia / I do have managed investments in or outside Australia
Funeral Bonds I do not have funeral bonds or funeral investments / I do have funeral bonds or funeral investments
Gifting I have not given away, sold for less than their market value, or surrendered a right to, any cash, assets or property in the last 5 years / I have done that

I’d prepare to fork over some paperwork if you select any of the italicized answers.

Business, Real Estate  
Businesses I am involved in # business(es) inside Australia

I do not operate through a company (as an owner or agent or as an employee) / I do that
Real Estate I do not own any real estate / I do own real estate

Trusts and Companies

Private Trusts  
Private Trust involvement details I am not involved in a private trust / I am involved in a private trust
Private Companies  
Private Company involvement details I am not a director, shareholder, or otherwise involved in a private company / I am one of those
Special Disability Trusts  
Special Disability Trusts I am not involved in a Special Disability Trust / _I am involved in a Special Disability Trust

Income

Business, Real Estate  
Employment income I do not receive any income from work / I do receive income from work
Other government payments I do not receive a pension or other payment from an Australian Government department other than the Department of Human Services (e.g. Department of Veteran Affairs, New Enterprise Employment Scheme (NEIS)) / I do receive another payment
Compensation I have never claimed or received, and I cannot claim compensation, insurance and/or damages due to personal injury, accident or illness / Have claimed comp / Can claim comp
Foreign pensions I do not receive pensions from an authority or agency overseas / I do receive pensions from an authority or agency overseas
Foreign income and assets I do not receive any income from, or hold any other assets, overseas / I do have assets
Scholarship, bursary or educational assistance I do not receive any scholarship, bursary or educational assistance / I do receive assistance
Other income I do not receive any income other than what has been declared in this claim / I do receive other income

Do note, if all those things I’ve italicized apply to you, you’re probably going to have to provide numbers.

Additional circumstances  
Money borrowed to fund investments I did not borrow money, or do not still owe any money borrowed, to purchase my investments / I owe money

Section 4: Claim Declaration

Summary & declaration  
Declaration accepted Yes

You don’t get a choice here, it’ll ask you to swear everything true in a slightly threatening way and there’s no “Look, I tried my best but this was a nightmare to get through and I might have made some mistakes” option.

5: Struggle to give them what they’re asking for

Before you can submit you will be forced to provide evidence of everything that could conceivably have a paper trail, and even a few things that don’t. This process escalates from irritating to rage-inducing when you have to contend with their document upload system, which I will try to explain how to get to work.

*One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.*

This is all of what I had to upload before I could submit my claim. Yours will look different depending on what you answered on all the questions, but there will be blue buttons to the right for each item.

Unfortunately, those buttons are actually all the same.

They will take you to the same page, this page:

*The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.*

You can click Next or scroll, it doesn’t matter. Much like you, in the eyes of the Federal Government.

*From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached*.

Click the plus, and you’ll have to select which of the required documents you’re trying to upload. That’s what I meant by it doesn’t matter which one you click, it doesn’t remember.

*What Pratchett would call an embuggerance*.

That will take you to the uploader, who is a fickle jerk.

*Oh, plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope — but not for us*.

Maybe things will go smoothly for you, but something always seems to go wrong when I use it. Do as it says to upload your file. That’s right, file, because at least if you’re using the “select your file” option it only lets you upload one at a time.

If you’re using pictures or scans of paper documents, you may run into problems with the small total file size limit. I suggest re-saving or exporting them as .jpgs of the lowest legible resolution, or possibly smaller than that if you want to test if anyone ever actually looks at them.

(For the tech-illiterate: please just Google how to do this. Search “how to make photo file size smaller” or something.)

*I cannot make you* [*understand*](https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Understand).

Once your file is uploaded here, it will look like this. Use the trash can on the right at your peril, because I’ve found it sometimes crashes the whole page. When that happens, don’t reload. Press back first, then reload. If you don’t do that, when (or if) it reloads you can end up on the general Centrelink file upload page which looks almost identical.

It is not possible for any thinking person to live in such a society as our own without wanting to change it

Other problems

Unexpected error happened. Please try again later. Error code: undefined

The way is infinitely long, nothing of it can be subtracted

Sometimes your file(s) will appear to upload fine, but then when you press Done you’ll get the above, utterly useless error message. Trying again later sometimes helps. I mean it must, since the file that earned that message didn’t when I uploaded it for my real application.

What if you’ve come back later and it still won’t upload? Here are my tips:

For PDFs:

  • Export the PDF again with different settings. What’s different? I don’t know, just keep trying.
  • Convert the PDF to a jpg or png. For an uploader that clearly prefers small file sizes, it sure seems to hate PDFs.

For PNGs:

  • Save at a lower resolution to reduce the file size.
  • Save as a JPG.

For JPGs:

  • Save at a lower resolution and/or quality to reduce the file size.
  • Save as a PNG.

For TIFFs:

  • Why are you using this file type?
  • Don’t.
  • Save as a PNG or JPG of an appropriate size.

When you press Done and it actually works, it’ll bring you back to the big plus button screen. Your proof/”Document” should be there now. You can select the plus button to start uploading proof for the next thing that they want, which will open this again.

Certainly, this yard of the way you still have to go, too, and it will be accounted unto you.

Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made.

Then rinse and repeat with the finicky uploader. Personally I preferred to submit all the Documents/evidence one by one just in case the session timed out, it lost the data and I had to start over again. If you feel the same way or only had a few Documents to upload, click Ready to submit. Or scroll down.

A cage went in search of a bird.

Select “I understand and agree to the above terms” even though you have about as much choice as someone being mugged at knifepoint.

Try not to worry about it too much. I had to provide “evidence” that a home business only I worked in that would have made less than a thousand in the two or so years it was running had ended.

Estimates say Australia’s heading for an unemployment rate of 15 percent, which would be over 2 million. 55,000 people crashed the Centrelink website on Monday 22nd March. Unless you’ve entered in something that throws up a flag, like you own a million dollars in shares or have multiple homes, I seriously doubt human eyes will ever look at any of these documents, and if they do it will not be with scrutiny.* And if you are unlucky, raise hell—though don’t take it out on the Centrelink employees, they have no say over the system.

*Editor’s note: I just had a claim get through in six days with what I would consider sub-par forms. Personal experience bears this suspicion out, at least.

6: Sign your life away

Once you have submitted all of your supporting documentation, you’ll be able to finalise and submit your actual claim. There’s more scary legalese like for the declaration above, just take a deep breath and remember what I said about the sheer number of submissions. Don’t imagine you’re handing in a signed form to a single person, it’s really more like flinging it on a giant pile to be sorted and scanned by robots that are about as up-to-date as the NBN.

7: Wait and agitate

Congratulations, you’re done! Now it’s all in the hands of Centrelink and the government!

I’m sure nothing could go wrong, right?

Keep in touch with everyone you know going through the same process. (Maybe link them here too.) It’s very unlikely the “estimated completion date” Centrelink gives you is going to be correct. Hounding them by yourself isn’t going to expedite the process, but if things start going south be loud. Contact the media, flood the comments sections, call up your local MP.

Don’t let politicians think they can get away with only serving the high end of town. Saving the economy is not more important than saving people.


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