Welfare Rights Review

Case studies of the work of the National Welfare Rights Network members

DSP rejection overturned

Max suffered from depression after his marriage broke down and he had an accident at work injuring his back. At the time he reached our member service he was homeless, run down, poorly dressed and in a bad state of health. He had been struggling with his appeal following the rejection of his claim for Disability Support Pension (DSP). He was feeling suicidal and he could not understand why Centrelink kept pushing him to look for work.

The service assisted Max by preparing a written submission and represented him at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. It was clear that due to the impact of his medical condition, Max was hardly coping day to day and that his medical conditions, properly assessed, should qualify him for DSP. 

The Tribunal set aside the decision under review, finding that Max had met the criteria for DSP since the date of his original claim. The decision was eventually implemented and Max received a substantial amount in arrears. Max was then able to find stable accommodation, eat better, and his standard of living improved.

Youth Allowance debt waived

In this case, Centrelink had raised a debt of about $4000 against Kellie who had become homeless from the age of 16. She was particularly vulnerable in light of mental health difficulties from her traumatic upbringing.  Kellie had been attempting a school based apprenticeship whilst studying. At the time she received Youth Allowance she was completing year 11 and 12 studies as well as undertaking an apprenticeship in childcare. Later in the same year, she fell extremely ill and it was ultimately discovered that she had a large tumour in her abdomen.  During the period of her illness, she continued to be in receipt of Youth Allowance. While she continued to try and study, she did not complete many of her courses (though she did persist with her apprenticeship except when hospitalised).

Our member service assisted Kellie to lodge an appeal to the Authorised Review Officer (ARO) against the debt, obtained supporting evidence and prepared and lodged a submission to the ARO arguing that the debt should be waived on the basis of special circumstances. We also assisted Kellie to have the debt recalled from a debt collector.  The ARO subsequently waived the debt in full and all the repayments made were refunded to Kellie. 

At last communication Kellie was continuing her traineeship in childcare and very glad to have had her debt waived.