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.
Head over to my.gov.au, which will bring you to this page.
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.
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.
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:
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.
If you have Centrelink linked, click it. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get stuck on this loading screen.
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.
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.
Hover over Payments and Claims at the top, then click Make a claim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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)|
|Home Address||# Street, Suburb, State, Postcode, Country|
|Date started living at address||XX Month XXXX|
|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|
|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.
|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.
|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|
|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|
|Date first stayed||XX Month XXXX|
|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.
|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|
|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.
|Your payment destination|
|Payment destination||JobSeeker Payment|
|Bank/Institution||Bank BSB number|
|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|
|Account||Account name and details|
|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.
|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.
|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|
|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|
|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.
|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|
|Private Trust involvement details||I am not involved in a private trust / I am involved in a private trust|
|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|
|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.
|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|
|Summary & declaration|
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.
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.
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:
You can click Next or scroll, it doesn’t matter. Much like you, in the eyes of the Federal Government.
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.
That will take you to the uploader, who is a fickle jerk.
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.)
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.
Unexpected error happened. Please try again later. Error code: undefined
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.