Sam* had applied for Jobseeker payment but his claim was rejected. When he phoned Centrelink, he was told that they had mailed a notice requesting further information, and when they had not received that information, they had mailed him another letter advising his application was rejected.
Sam had not received either of the letters because his house was damaged by the bushfires and he was no longer living there.
To make matters more complicated, Sam had lost the documents requested by Centrelink in the bushfire. Because Sam hadn’t received the letters, and he contacted Centrelink more than 13 weeks after the rejection, he was no longer entitled to back payments.
It’s always a good idea to keep Centrelink updated about your current mailing address, and to look for ways to protect your important documents from being damaged or lost in a disaster.
The legislation as it stands allows for Centrelink to rely upon correspondence which is mailed to disaster-affected regions. This can have big impacts on social security payments. With disasters being declared six to ten times a year in Victoria, we believe social security legislation and policy needs to be more disaster-informed. In the coming year, we’ll be looking for ways to bring this issue to the attention of law and policy makers.
*Name has been changed