Robodebt notices

If you’re part of Gordon Legal’s Robodebt Class Action lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Australia, you’ve probably recently received a notice in your MyGov account – and chances are you’ve got questions.

De-mystifying that Robodebt notice you just received

What’s the notice about?

The Commonwealth has been ordered by the Court to send Group Members a “Notice of Proposed Settlement” by 25 January 2021.

Most Group Members will have received the Notice in their MyGov inbox.

A settlement is an agreement reached between parties outside of Court. The settlement must be approved by the Court in order for it to proceed. This proposed settlement has not yet been approved by the Court.

The Court will hear the Robodebt Class Action settlement approval application on 6-7 May 2021.

Essentially, the notice you have received explains the proposed settlement, as agreed by both parties of the Robodebt Class Action, and outlines the steps in the settlement process.

Importantly, the notice also explains the process that Group Members, which includes all people who have received this settlement notice, can follow if they wish to object to the proposed settlement.

What do I need to do now?

If you do not want to object to the proposed settlement, there is nothing further that you need to do at this stage. You will remain a member of the Class Action and, if the settlement is approved, Services Australia will soon contact you about:

  • your eligibility for a settlement payment (if any);
  • the amount of payment you’ll receive;
  • information about what to do if you don’t agree with Services Australia’s decision on your eligibility for a settlement payment.

Even if you don’t want to object to the proposed settlement, you should get legal advice now to best understand the legal consequences and likely outcomes of doing so.

If you do want to object to the proposed settlement, you should get legal advice now to best understand the legal consequences and likely outcomes of objecting.

This legal advice can’t be provided to you by Gordon Legal as they are representing those who accept the settlement.

If you decide to object to the proposed settlement, the next step will be to ask the Court not to approve the settlement.

To do this, you must send a completed copy of the Notice of Objection (which is attached to the letter you received through your MyGov account) to the Victoria Registry of the Federal Court of Australia.

The court must receive this by 5 March 2021. If you object by 5 March 2021, you have until 19 March 2021 to file documents supporting your objection. You don’t have to file supporting documents if you don’t want to.

If you have any questions about the Robodebt Class Action notice, and you live in Victoria you can call Social Security Rights Victoria’s General Advice Line, Monday–Thursday between 9:30am and 12:30pm on 0419 793 652.

If you live in another state, find your closest social security legal service here.

Changes to JobKeeper

The JobKeeper Payment eligibility rules and payment rates are changing. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s changing?

From 4 January 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rate has changed to:

  • $1,000 per fortnight for people who worked more than 20 hours a week on average during February or June 2020;
  • $650 per fortnight for people who worked less than 20 hours a week on average during February or June 2020.

This is less than the current rate of JobKeeper Payment.

What this means for you

These changes may mean people not previously eligible for JobSeeker, due to the rate of JobKeeper, may now be eligible for JobSeeker, or another benefit. 

This is because the new rates of JobKeeper are now lower than the income cut off points for JobSeeker and some other Centrelink payment eligibility.

If you are receiving JobKeeper you should consider whether your circumstances might now mean you are eligible to receive JobSeeker as well.

If you think this applies to you, you should submit an online claim for JobSeeker payment now.

You can find out more about the changes to JobKeeper Payment elibility and rates and how to start an online claim, on the Services Australia website.

If you’re not sure how to claim a Centrelink payment, this Economic Justice Australia Factsheet is handy for step-by-step instructions and guidance.

Remember, if you are receiving a Centrelink benefit and are required to report your income to Centrelink, you must include your JobKeeper payment.


What is JobKeeper Payment?

JobKeeper Payment is made by the Australian Tax Office to eligible employers to pay to their eligible employees as part of or instead of their normal wages. You should speak to your employer if you think you might be eligible for JobKeeper and are not currently receiving it.

The JobKeeper Payment has been extended until 28 March 2021.

You can find out more about JobKeeper Payment on the ATO website.

Need advice?

If you live in Victoria and would like advice about this change, or have other social security/Centrelink questions, you can call our General Advice Line, Monday – Thursday between 9:30am and 12:30pm on 0419 793 652.

If you live in another state, here’s where you can find your closest social security legal service

Changes to Centrelink income reporting from 7 December 2020

Do you receive Centrelink payments and are currently required to report your family’s income?

If so, the way you report your income to Centrelink is changing.

From 7 December 2020 you will now be required to report the gross income your employerpaid you in your reporting period. Prior to 7 December you were required to report the income you earned during the reporting period but were not yet paid.

Gross income is the total income you are paid before tax and other deductions. This is not the amount of income you receive into your bank account. Gross income is the amount of income you earned before tax and deductions, such as HECS payments, are taken out.

You should find this amount on the top of your payslip and it’s normally labelled ‘gross income’.

Remember, if you have a partner, you must also report the gross income they were paid during your reporting period to Centrelink, from 7 December 2020.

The way backpay is assessed will also be changing from 7 December 2020.

If you are paid backpay from your employer, this will now be assessed within the reporting period when you receive it, not the period within which you earned that income.

Does your reporting date fall between 7 and 18 December 2020?

You will need to make a one-off calculation when reporting between 7 December 2020 and 18 December 2020, if:

  • you reported earned employment income for a period before 7 December 2020; and
  • your employer paid you the income after 7 December 2020.

This is to ensure you do not report the same income twice.

You can find out more about reporting your income if your reporting date falls between 7 December 2020 and 18 December 2020 on the Services Australia website [LINK: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/news/does-your-reporting-date-fall-between-7-and-18-december-2020]

If you find this confusing, Services Australia has an online calculator tool [LINK: https://www.centrelink.gov.au/custsite_pfe/pymtfinderest/reiCalculatorPage.jsf?wec-appid=pymtfinderest&wec-locale=en_US#stay] to help you make this calculation.

Want some more information about these changes?

You can find out more about this change, including a full list of payments this change affects, on the Services Australia website. [LINK: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/news/reporting-your-employment-income-changing]

Need advice?

If you live in Victoria and would like advice about this change, or have other social security/Centrelink questions, you can call our General Advice Line, Monday – Thursday between 9:30am and 12:30pm on 0419 793 652.

If you live in another state, find your closest social security legal service on the Economic Justice Australia website. [LINK: https://www.ejaustralia.org.au/wp/legal-help-centrelink/]

DSP Help: Helping people access the Disability Support Pension

Income support – such as the Disability Support Pension (DSP) – can be a significant improvement to the quality of life of people who cannot work due to illness, injury or disability, but it can be difficult to access. DSP eligibility criteria is complex and success often depends on obtaining quality supporting medical evidence.

Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV) has created DSP Help to help DSP applicants and the people who support them understand what is required, how to get suitable medical evidence, and how to approach an application.

What is DSP Help?

DSP Help is a free online resource for Disability Support Pension (DSP) applicants and the people who support them, aimed at helping them understand the DSP and what they can do to improve their chances of success.

How does DSP Help work?

The DSP Help website provides information about DSP eligibility criteria, how to gather medical evidence, applying for the DSP, and what to do if an application is rejected, all in one place.

The Medical Evidence Chatbot helps applicants grapple with how their medical conditions affect them and their ability to work. It produces a personalised Medical Evidence Kit applicants can take to their doctors to help explain what they’re experiencing, and how the doctors can support their DSP application.

DSP Help is not just a website. SSRV is offering a ‘wrap around’ legal service – including advice and representation – as well. People who are unable to use the DSP Help website or need more hands on assistance can call SSRV and ask to speak to the DSP Help Lawyer.

What can I do?

DSP Help is live right now. DSP applicants and support workers can start using it right away. If you have clients, members, or associates that would benefit from this, please let them know about it or put them in touch with SSRV.

Promotional materials that can be distributed to applicants and other potential DSP Help users are available. SSRV is also offering professional development/education around the DSP, and how to get the most out of DSP Help.

If you would like to have promotional materials sent to you, to arrange for a PD session, or want to be kept up to date with this project, contact SSRV at info@ssrv.org.au, or call us on 03 9481 0299.

A plan for a just and equitable post-COVID Victoria

The impacts of COVID, and the government responses to it, have been felt by all Victorians, but no group more than those reliant on social security.

We have seen first-hand how COVID-19 has affected Victorians, especially those most affected by discrimination and injustice.

Some government measures have been vital in softening the blow of COVID-19 and the economic slowdown, others have not worked as well as they should. While some actions taken by government agencies have improved welfare and access to justice, some are pushing people further into hardship. The Federation of Community Legal Centres has now released A Just and Equitable COVID Recovery – A Community Legal Sector Plan for Victoria

which sets out our recommendations for embedding protections for those members of our community most impacted by disadvantage, discrimination and injustice. You can read the report here.

. In short, a just and equitable recovery must:

  • expand and entrench vital protections for financially disadvantaged Victorians
  • improve the fairness and resilience of our housing systems
  • make sure no workers are left behind in Victoria’s economic rebuild
  • embed access to justice for all victim-survivors of family violence and build on best practice legal supports in measures to respond to the ‘shadow pandemic’
  • protect the welfare and human rights of people in prison throughout the COVID recovery, and move towards a safer prison system
  • protect children and young people impacted by the crisis and keep them out of the justice system

We need to make sure no one gets left behind in the transition to the ‘new normal’.

Integrated Services Project

SSRV and Financial Counselling Victoria have a partnership to deliver the Integrated Services Project . The Year 1 project implementation and evaluation report was recently launched.

Read the report here

Bushfire legal support

SSRV has received funding from the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to provide legal assistance to people from bushfire affected areas in Gippsland and North-East Victoria.

The following guidelines outline how SSRV is able to assist individuals, primary producers and small business operators from these areas.

SSRV Bushfire Legal Assistance Guidelines.

See our Legal Assistance page for more information.

DSP help project launched

Social Security Rights Victoria is pleased to announce that we have launched DSP Help

What is DSP Help?

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) provides income support for people who cannot work due to permanent illness, injury, or disability, but getting it is challenging. DSP eligibility criteria is complex and success often depends on the quality of supporting medical evidence.

DSP Help is a free online resource for DSP applicants and the people who support them, aimed at helping them understand the DSP, the eligibility criteria, how to get suitable medical evidence, and how to approach an application.

How does DSP Help work?

The DSP Help website provides information about DSP eligibility criteria, how to gather medical evidence, applying for the DSP, and what to do if an application is rejected, all in the one place.

The Medical Evidence Chatbot helps applicants grapple with how their medical conditions affect them and their ability to work. It produces a personalised Medical Evidence Kit applicants can take to their doctors to help explain what they’re experiencing, and how the doctors can support their DSP application.

DSP Help is not just a website. Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV) is offering a ‘wrap around’ legal service – including advice and representation – as well. People who are unable to use the DSP Help website or need more hands on assistance can call SSRV and ask to speak to the DSP Help Lawyer.

What can I do?

DSP Help is live right now. DSP applicants and support workers can start using it right away.

Community lawyers and support workers

SSRV has created a postcard for DSP Help you can give to clients who need help with the DSP. If you would like a digital copy sent to you please contact SSRV at info@ssrv.org.au or call on 03 9481 0299. Pre-printed postcards and other promotional materials will be available in the near future.

SSRV is offering workshops about the Disability Support Pension and DSP Help for professionals who are assisting clients with DSP matters. Currently these are offered remotely due to Covid-19 restrictions. To find out about the next session, please contact SSRV at info@ssrv.org.au or call on 03 9481 0299.

SSRV is a state-wide community legal centres that provide specialist legal advice and assistance regarding Centrelink matters. DSP Help is part of the range of services offered by SSRV, including:

General Advice Line (for individuals and carers): 0419 793 652

(Monday – Thursday, 9:30am – 12:30pm)

Worker Help Line (for community lawyers and support workers): 0429 450 346

(Monday – Thursday, 9:00am – 5:00pm)

Read the media release here

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