Robert*, a social worker, was working with a client who had come to Australia from Italy eight years ago and who had recently had her Disability Support Pension (DSP) application rejected on the basis that she didn’t meet the residency criteria.
While Robert had some understanding of the DSP application process, he knew that it was a complicated and nuanced process, and he and his client would benefit from advice from a social security law expert – so he contacted SSRV’s Worker Helpline.
SSRV’s Worker Helpline operates Monday to Friday, and is staffed by an SSRV lawyer. When Robert rang, the SSRV lawyer explained the 10-year qualifying residency requirement for DSP, how it is calculated and exceptions to the requirement. They also talked through the appeal process available to Robert’s client.
Finally, the SSRV lawyer suggested that Robert’s client could contact Centrelink’s International Services line to look at their eligibility under Australia’s international agreement with Italy.
Following the phone call, the SSRV lawyer emailed Robert information and sections of the Guide to Social Security Law, Centrelink’s policy, to assist him in supporting his client.
SSRV’s Worker Help Line aims to provide reliable and relevant information and guidance for community workers assisting clients experiencing social security problems. Workers can include social workers, health care workers, community legal centres, and housing organisations, to name a few.
When you call our Worker Helpline, an SSRV lawyer will talk through your client’s Centrelink issue and provide you with information and guidance on possible next steps to take. In some circumstances, we will also talk to you about referring your client for individual legal advice and assistance from us. We can also offer resources or discuss training opportunities for you and your organisation.
Our Worker Helpline is a valuable, well-utilised resource for workers. In the 2021-22 financial year, SSRV delivered 423 Worker Help Line services to workers from 212 different organisations. Almost a quarter of workers who contacted us were in regional/rural Victoria.
Some workers have been contacting us for many years, while others are contacting us for the very first time.
Cathy*, a housing worker, contacted SSRV’s Worker Helpline because her client, Craig*, had a Centrelink debt. Craig couldn’t understand why he had a Centrelink debt and Cathy had tried assisting him in obtaining information by contacting Centrelink with him, but this had been unsuccessful.
With Craig’s consent, the SSRV lawyer invited a referral and booked a legal advice appointment for Craig. At Craig’s request, Cathy also attended the appointment to support him. After the appointment, the SSRV lawyer assisted Craig by drafting an Authorised Review Officer (ARO) review request (the first stage in the appeal process) for him to lodge with Centrelink.
Once Craig receives the outcome of the ARO review request, he or Cathy can contact SSRV for further advice or secondary consultation.
Our Worker Helpline is a Victorian state-wide, free service available Monday – Friday between 9am and 5pm. You can contact us by calling 03 9481 0655.
*Names have been changed