Centrelink and Kiwis – What Is It and How Does It Work?

Let’s start with the basics – the Australian agency that is responsible for government benefits and payments is called Centrelink. Centrelink is a typical government department – there are some long waiting times and trying to speak to someone on the phone is an exercise in patience. So don’t expect anything to happen quickly – it’s best to start the Centrelink process before its “needed”, as it can take quite some time for anything to come through or be sorted. Try to be as organised as possible with Centrelink – these waiting times means that forgetting a document or missing an appointment can mean that you’ll be rescheduled – sometimes weeks later.

To apply for a Centrelink payment, you will most probably need to attend on a Centrelink office – again, for any visit to Centrelink, plan to spend a while there. They will give you a Centrelink number, which will mean that most of the time, you will be able to use the online portal. They will ask for all kinds of information, which can include (but isn’t limited to) 100 points of ID, bank statements, information about property you own, information about any children you’re applying for benefits for (including birth certificates), information about where you’re living, who you live with, and your income.

This information is necessary because many Australian government benefits are income and assets tested – which means that should you have too many assets (e.g. property in Australia or New Zealand) or earn too much, your payments may be reduced or you may not be classified as eligible to receive any payments.