Community Legal Education

Want to know more about social security payments and how Centrelink works? Welfare Rights Centre provides free education and training across NSW, although currently all training is being provided online. 

Regular CLE events  Our monthly community legal education events are open to all although each session has been developed with specific target audiences in mind. Sessions are jointly presented by our CLE Officer and one of our solicitors, with all including consideration of case studies and time for questions. Please see our 2020/21 program below.

Pre-recorded materials  From late 2020 we will be recording webinars and will then make them available on our website so that you can access them for free at any time.

Tailored events We are sometimes able to deliver information sessions or training on specific issues to individual groups. Please contact us directly at if you are interested in customised training for a specific group, organisation or interagency.


Community Legal Education Program 2020/21

Want to know what to expect from the next round of major changes to social security including 25th September changes to the income test, partner income test, assets test, liquid assets waiting period and rate of Coronavirus Supplement? Wondering if you’re reading those rolling changes to mutual obligations right? And what will happen when debt recovery recommences in October?


This session will flag the issues you can expect to see over the next few months. It aims to make sense of ongoing changes to social security in response to COVID, including a quick review of the April 2020 legal and administrative changes, and the scattergun application of impending changes to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment and AUSTUDY. It will also include practical information about appealing cancellation of a client’s payment and what to do if a debt is raised.


Target audience The primary audience for this session is community legal centre staff and volunteers but it is also open to others. This session is run in conjunction with Community Legal Centres Australia and our peak body, Economic Justice Australia.


Tuesday 15 September 2020, 11:00am - 12:30 pm



Centrelink’s ‘debt pause’ is due to end on 30 October and we’re anticipating a surge in debt notices: six months of debts accrued at a time when an unprecedented number of people have claimed payments under reduced reporting requirements, some with overlapping payments of JobSeeker and JobKeeper. There’s also the issue of all those people who will have to start re-paying old debts despite being in financial crisis.


So, what are the options when Centrelink raises a debt? This session explains the reasons debts may be raised and measures you can take to check that there really is a debt and/or the amount of the debt has been calculated correctly. It will cover how to appeal decisions that are incorrect or seem unfair, and the type of circumstances in which a debt can be waived. It will also address negotiating repayments, garnishee actions, Departure Prohibition Orders and possible criminal prosecution. The session will include an explanation of the current situation regarding Robodebts, including the Government's commitment to refund money it took through the unlawful robodebt scheme and the pending class action for compensation.


Target audience Community workers and volunteers


Thursday  15 October 2020, 10:00am - 11:30am AEDT

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This session will set out key issues regarding young people’s access to Centrelink payments. It will explain the difference between JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Austudy, and will outline the two streams of Youth Allowance,  the first intended for students and apprentices, and the second for job seekers.


Speakers will outline issues around residence, approved courses and education providers, allowable time, and distance and online education. The session will cover the critical issue of study load affecting eligibility, offering a heads up about the type of circumstances that can lead to a debt being raised. It will also address the key issue of ‘dependence’ for people aged 21 or younger, including how young people can demonstrate their independence through work, rural or remote location, or if they can’t live at home due to extreme circumstances. 


The session will address job search issues including ‘mutual obligations’, and Centrelink payments for young people with a disability, including Youth Disability Support Supplement. It will also explain how young people needing further support may access a Centrelink Social Worker, and what they can do if a claim is rejected payment is stopped, or a debt is raised.


Target audience Community workers, youth workers, volunteers and lawyers


Wednesday 11 November 2020, 3:00pm – 5:00pm AEDT

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Australia's social security system has strict residency criteria. Payments are usually available only to Australian residents, with most migrants subject to a Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP) or other qualifying residency period. (Note: the NARWP is suspended until end December 2020.) People from New Zealander who have lived in Australia for many years can be particularly harshly affected by residency requirements. Importantly, there are exemptions, which may enable access to Special Benefit or other payments.


This session will address key issues impacting migrant’s access to Centrelink payments including residency criteria, waiting periods, exemptions, impact of overseas assets and foreign pensions, and assurances of support.


Target audience Community workers and volunteers, migrant support workers, and lawyers


Wednesday 2 December 2020, 3:00 – 4:30pm AEDT

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Wanting to gain a better understanding of Disability Support Pension (DSP), Carer Payment or Carer Allowance?  This session will outline eligibility criteria, the kind of evidence required to obtain payment, and key steps in the process. It will also cover important points about obtaining the right medical evidence, including who can be considered a medical expert and direction about the formatting and content of letters and necessary forms. Finally, the session will outline what to do if your claim is rejected, including where to go for help.


Target audience Community workers and volunteers, disability advocates, and lawyers


Thursday 28 January 2021, 10:00am – 12:00pm AEDT

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A number of Centrelink payments are tied to a requirement to look for work, including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance (job seeker) and Parenting Payment (where the youngest child has turned 6 years old). These payments have ‘mutual obligations’ attached, which can include looking for work, attending interviews with an employment service provider, undertaking specific activities, going to appointments, Work for the Dole, and taking up a ‘reasonable’ offer of work. The penalties for not ‘satisfying’ mutual obligations are harsh, including cancellation of payment for an extended period.


This session provides an overview of all-things-mutual-obligations, including current COVID-19 arrangements and what to do if a person is threatened with a penalty or payment is cut off.


Target audience Community workers and volunteers and lawyers


Wednesday 17 February 2021, 10:00am – 12:00pm AEDT

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Domestic violence is common and its impact far reaching. It occurs across all ages and socioeconomic and demographic groups but is predominantly used against women and children. Social security provides a critical safety net for those trying to escape domestic violence or re-establish themselves after leaving a violent relationship. Accessed at times of greatest vulnerability, Centrelink payments can be critical to victims of violence rebuilding their lives and moving on.


This session will outline income support available to victims and survivors of domestic violence, including Parenting Payment, JobSeeker Payment, Crisis Payment and Special Benefit. It will outline how to establish entitlement to payment, timeframes for claiming, residential qualifications, presumptions of shared income under the Member of a Couple rule, separation and ‘separation under one roof’. The session will tackle issues associated with demonstrating ‘care’ of children and removal of children by perpetrators which can impact both qualification and rate of payment.  It will also explain application of special circumstances in relation to debts, and will detail how victims of violence can access a Centrelink Social Worker to obtain additional support navigating the Centrelink process.


Target audience Community workers who assist victims and survivors of domestic violence


Tuesday 9 March 2021, 3:00pm – 5:00pm AEDT

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This session outlines Centrelink payments targeting families and children, including Parenting Payment, Family Tax Benefit, Parental Leave Pay, Dad and Partner Pay, Carer Payment and Child Care Subsidy. It will also cover other payments accessed by many parents such as JobSeeker Payment and Disability Support Pension.


The speakers will address eligibility requirements, income and assets tests, mutual obligations relating to work, and the way that the number and age of children affects different payments. The session will explain how relationship status (single/partnered) affects payment and will outline Centrelink payments intended to support people trying to escape, or who have recently left, situations of domestic violence. It will also address how issues related to separation can have a major impact, particularly child support and the amount of time a child is in the care of each parent.


The session will explain how people needing further support may access a Centrelink Social Worker, and what they can do if a claim is rejected payment is stopped, or a debt is raised.


Target audience Community workers, social workers, volunteers and lawyers


Wednesday 21 April 2021, 3:00 – 5:00pm AEST

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Did you know that the Age Pension age is increasing? Nearly two-thirds of Australians post-retirement age rely on government assistance as their main source of income. Join our social security experts as they discuss Centrelink payments and services available to people who are retired, planning for retirement, or wanting to keep working after reaching Age Pension age.


This session will address the differences between Age Pension, Carer Payment, Carer Allowance, Carer Supplement and Bereavement Allowance, including factors to consider if a person is able to choose between different payments and how to transfer to Age Pension from another payment. It will cover Rent Assistance, the Pension Loan Scheme, the Energy Supplement and other Centrelink crisis payments. It will also outline different concession cards including the Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card, and the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.


Speakers will explain the different income and assets tests, including what is considered an asset, and the implications of temporarily leaving a principal home, selling a principal home or one or both members of a couple moving into residential care. It will also address residency requirements, including residency in a country with an International Social Security Agreement.


Target audience Community workers, social workers, aged-care workers, volunteers and lawyers


Thursday 20 May 2021, 10:00am – 12:00pm AEST

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This session will give attendees the tools to identify a social security problem, including those masked by other pressing or complex issues. It will provide an overview of social security and family assistance rules, payments and Centrelink's administrative process, and will also outline common social security issues.


The session will outline the kinds of questions to ask to get to the key legal issues and work through the best approach to resolve, including how to support client’s interactions with Centrelink and how to make targeted referrals to Welfare Rights Centre. 


Target audience Community workers, social workers, community/social work students intake staff and volunteers and lawyers


Tuesday 8 June 2021, 3:00pm – 5:00pm AEST

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This year we’ve been able to scale up our community legal education and communications work thanks to the generosity and support of the Ecstra Foundation: a not for profit organisation dedicated to building the financial wellbeing of all Australians. Thank you Ecstra for making our CLE program and communications strategy possible. To find out more about Ecstra, click here.


Our education program has also been supported by funding from Collier Charitable Trust, helping us reach more people as we respond to the COVID crisis. To learn more about the Collier Charitable Trust, click here.