Current projects

SSRV currently has a number of specialist services and projects that focus on particular aspects of social security law and/or on working with other sectors/workers to improve client outcomes through integrated services.

Current projects include:

  • Disaster Preparedness and Response
  • Intersection Between Family Violence and Social Security Project
  • SSRV and Financial Counselling Victoria Integrated Services Project
  • Disability Support Pension Help services.

After the Black Summer fires of 2019 & 2020, SSRV received funding from Bushfire Recovery Victoria in FY22 and FY23 to undertake a project focused on disaster preparation and response. 

We first undertook a legal needs analysis to determine the likely and observed social security legal needs of people affected by disasters. This analysis identified, among other things, that: 

  • In Victoria, disasters – such as floods, storms and bushfires – are typically declared between 6 and 10 times per year 
  • Multiple independent organisations have concluded that the impacts of disasters on people include trauma, mental health impacts, increases in family violence and increased reliance on social security 
  • The combination of simultaneously experiencing trauma and financial crisis (itself traumatic) contributes to adverse outcomes for social security claims, accumulation of social security (and other) debt, clarity of eligibility for payments, and general dealings with the social security system – resulting in new, disaster-related social security legal needs 
  • With this in mind, SSRV has prepared and implemented its Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan, the objectives of which are to: 
  • Raise community awareness of the risk of social security legal need arising from disasters  
  • Optimise our ability to respond to social security legal need arising from disasters 
  • Optimise our internal resilience to future disasters.  

You can read our Disaster Legal Assistance Guidelines here, and you can access our Disaster Legal Support Landing Page here. 

SSRV and Financial Counselling Victoria (FCVic) have established a partnership to design, implement and evaluate an integrated service bringing together social security law specialists and financial counsellors.

The overarching objective of this project is to enable financial counsellors and social security rights experts to work together more effectively to improve client outcomes. The project aims to build the capability of financial counsellors and community lawyers to identify and respond to social security law and related issues.

Project activities include:

  • Dedicated resourcing within SSRV to assist and work with financial counsellors who are assisting clients with Centrelink issues;
  • Training and professional development for SSRV staff regarding financial counselling services to improve integrated service provision and referrals;
  • Training and professional development for financial counsellors regarding social security law and Centrelink issues;
  • Relationship building between social security experts and financial counsellors across Victoria; and,
  • Identifying and addressing relevant systemic issues facing clients, primarily through the FCVic Centrelink Working Group.

The project is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Justice and Community Safety, with funding administered by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.

For further information, see – Specialist community lawyers and financial counsellors working together to improve client outcomes.

A report on the implementation and evaluation of the Integrated Services Project Year One, SSRV & FCVic, February 2020.

This project explores the intersection between family violence and social security issues. Areas of focus include:

  • Working with other community legal centres and community organisations to document and identify relevant issues and cohorts
  • Providing specialist social security law advice and assistance to people who have experienced or are experiencing family violence
  • Offering secondary consultation and legal support to community lawyers and workers assisting clients with relevant issues
  • Sharing learnings, identifying and responding to relevant policy and legal issues

The project is supported by the Victorian Government.

The objective of the DSP Help Project is to design and implement a user-centred information, advice and advocacy service to help DSP applicants and support workers surmount the complicated evidentiary burden of DSP eligibility. Through the project, SSRV will:

  • assist DSP applicants to increase the chance of success when making an application for the DSP through access to the DSP Help online resource
  • build the confidence and capability of support workers to effectively assist their clients in making DSP applications through resources, training and advice services
  • assist applicants and their support workers to make more effective DSP applications and challenge unfavourable decisions through the provision of accessible legal advice and representation services
  • contribute to organisational and sector knowledge regarding the use of human-centred design and technology to ‘design justice differently’

This project is funded by the Victorian Legal Service Board + Commissioner.

Contact SSRV for more information.

Visit DSP help here.

Read the Year One Report.

Read the Year Two Report

Social Security Debt Help is a free resource to help you understand Centrelink debts. That could be a debt you’ve been asked to repay, or a debt you are helping someone else with.

Social Security Debt Help provides information about debts, how to challenge debts if you disagree with them, and how to manage paying them back.

Centrelink debts can be complex. If you decide to challenge a debt there are risks you need to be aware of. We recommend seeking legal advice before challenging a Centrelink debt.

Social Security Debt Help can be used by anyone in Australia.