Centrelink – how to survive and thrive on it

How can you survive on a Centrelink pension, Newstart, disability or any form of welfare?

In a nutshell, according to statistics (read more about the statistical details here):
– Over 5 million Australians rely on income from Centrelink
– Over half of these are on the Age Pension or Veteran Pension
– A further 800,000+ are on disability
– 660,000+ are on Newstart
– The remainder are on parenting payment, carers payment and other payments

Looking at these numbers, the majority of people living on Centrelink are in situations where they have no other option. The bulk of people coming to my sites are looking for help with Centrelink, what discounts they can use their pension/healthcare card for, how to get money to leave an abusive relationship, what to do if they are at risk or are already homeless and basically how to survive on a low income.

I want to help people not only survive, but thrive on Centrelink, and where possible (such as those able to work) get off Centrelink either through their own business, generating income from home or getting a job they love. I want to help Australians have a better quality of life.

Having been on Centrelink myself, having had times in my life where I was paralysed, disabled and a single mother because of domestic violence, I know how difficult it can all be. I also know what a difference extra money can make to enable someone to get the right medical treatment, be able to afford childcare or further education etc.

I’m creating guides and resources to help people survive and thrive on Centrelink, but I need your help.

I have created a survey with a few anonymous questions, which no one will see apart from me. The answers to it will be the basis for the guides, along with my personal experiences. Your privacy is important to me and no *individual answers from this survey will be shared with anyone else, no third parties, no one! It’s between you and me only. 

How to survive and thrive on Centrelink

To complete the survey click here, for more information, read on. 
My first experience with Centrelink was accessing Youth Allowance at 16 when I was made to leave home and lived in another state for a while. As an adult, I have needed the single parent pension a couple of times and had numerous clients when I was a hairdresser living off Centrelink such as disability and Newstart payments.

We are lucky to have a welfare system in place, as frustrating as it is to deal with and as high as the cost of living is in Australia, it is better than many other countries. That doesn’t make it easy to live on, though, especially if you don’t know ‘the system’.

I was fortunate to have people in my life help me access the services I needed, for the most part. Not everyone has that. I am also fortunate to have been able to rebuild my life and no longer need it.

The most popular article ever on all my sites combined is the complete list of everything you can use your health care card/pension card for in Australia followed by how to get money to leave an abusive relationship. I know the connection there, I lived it.
Given my experience, I want to help other Australians not only survive on the pension, but also thrive, create streams of income and create a life that is not dependent on Centrelink, where possible.

You might be on Centrelink because of disability, you might be a carer, you might have split recently from your partner, whatever the reason, I want to help you.

Ideally, no one would need the safety net of a welfare system like Centrelink, but let’s get real, it is as big as it is because it is needed. Life isn’t perfect and there are times all of us need help.

It’s not my place or anyone else’s to judge why you are on it. Having been on it, and now being in a completely different place in my life I know I can help you.

Given my personal experiences, my knowledge and the change in my life from homeless to CEO, I feel the need to help others do whatever they can in their lives.

I need your help to know exactly what you need help with and have created this survey for you to complete to help me.

I want to cover:

– What you are entitled to in different scenarios, beyond the payment such as rent assistance etc.

– What you can use your pension/health care card for

– Other services available to you if you are receiving benefits

– How to negotiate with debt collectors

– How to budget

– How to increase you income

– How to transition off Centrelink

– Tips on how to barter, get things for free and reduce your expenses

– 100 work from home options (not all party plan!) and tips on implementing them


If you’d like to help me know exactly what you need, please click through and do the survey
Do you have any tips for those living on the pension? Is this a guide you need?

*Individual answers will never be revealed. The collective data as statistics may be used in blog posts or in the guides to help shape what is shared. No identity will be revealed. 


  • Miss Ira Zettler

    Hey Kylie, it’s great that you have managed to successfully get yourself off the Centrelink roundabout. (Kudos to you) However many, many people are simply not as fortunate as yourself as they have neither the intellectual capacity or ability to assist themselves. They are also not young and relatively attractive. At 31 you are not old enough to have experienced age discrimination in the workplace (I am almost 48) I have and it is one of the biggest barriers to finding long term/secure employment. Also getting an education doesn’t automatically mean that you will have employment opportunities flooding in. (I have three degrees, two diplomas and two certificate 4s) and am forced to accept an endless round of short term contracts. (I am a social worker by qualification) You also don’t appear to live in an area of high unemployment and or in a regional, rural or remote location (I do) Where I live is 103km north of Adelaide. Unemployment in South Australia is also amongst the highest in the nation (officially sitting at around 7.9%, unofficially I would say closer to 14%) so just getting out there and finding your dream job (or any kind of secure employment) is hard work. Regardless, I commend you on your website and your desire to assist others to get what they are entitled to. Just remember however that Centrelink is not the easiest agency to deal with and many people find it easier to not deal with Centrelink, even if it means they go without.

    on a slightly different note- I am surprised that your website does not have any information about the mobility allowance- it is paid by DHS to anyone that cannot safely or adequately use public transport. It pays between $94.60 and $132.40 a fortnight for eligible applicants.
    There is also a website called product review.com.au it pays anyone writing four reviews at a time a $20.00 coles gift voucher that is emailed to them at the end of the month. They are pretty lax so if you log in under multiple email addresses, you will get a $20.00 coles voucher each time you submit four product reviews. I am currently unemployed and use this system to pay for my monthly grocery shop at coles ( $200.00 a month) They are also currently running a competition for the best review of the month. The winner gets a $500.00 coles e-voucher.

    Finally, I would recommend you have the a look at the following website- Adelaide Homeless Journal.com. This is a website that has been set up to assist people who are doing it tough (including the homeless, those who are unemployed and or underemployed and those at risk of homelessness etc.) People log on and submit different blogs about issues they have and or support that they can get etc. It also has a free food guide and a guide to semi-useful welfare sights (in SA) I am a regular contributor.

    • admin

      Thanks for your comment. A few things:

      I know many can never get off Centrelink and I state this repeatedly in interviews, on my site, when doing public speaking and in the survey I ran to see what help people needed. Statistically, the majority of people accessing Centrelink are age pensioners, veterans and people with disabilities. Hence why I am about providing tips to survive and thrive, not just get off Centrelink. The extremely short interview on Win was cut to suit their needs and didn’t include everything.

      Age discrimination goes both ways. I was homeless and unemployed with 2 kids in my twenties. There is also gender discrimination and extreme discrimination against single mothers trying to get back into the workforce. While I may not have experienced your specific age discrimination, it is not the only one people experience. I am aware I am extremely fortunate to be young and look how I do, but it also goes against me in other ways.

      In terms of education, I dropped out in year 11. No, getting an education does not guarantee employment (nothing does), there are numerous occupations and job ads that won’t look even look at those without a degree. In fact, for the hundreds of jobs I applied for when I was applying, I got rejected from every single one. My only option was to create my own income. Also, both my daughters had severe disabilities and my ex husband was stalking us. I didn’t have a lot of options.

      Many people are working multiple jobs, doing short term contracts, working part time etc. Fulltime work is quickly becoming not the norm. The fact you are able to get the contracts it great.

      In terms of where I live, in the past few years I have moved 13 times. I recently moved to Melbourne CBD. When I started and was homeless I lived in Western Sydney, a well known high unemployment and extremely low socio economic area. I have also lived in the southern most parts of Canberra, I grew up and spent some of my teen years in Kingston, Tasmania, so I am experienced with areas not as affluent or with as many opportunities as where I currently live. I moved for the opportunities.

      I know Centrelink is not the easiest agency to deal with. If you read more of my content, you will see that.

      Mobility Allowance is listed here http://www.kylietravers.com.au/centrelink/centrelink-benefits-entitled/ in the section with benefits people may be entitled to.

      I personally wouldn’t recommend using multiple email addresses as suggested for Product Review, but great job on getting gift cards. I have a few others listed on another site I own which most get $1,000 to $2,000 from a year http://thethriftyissue.com.au/best-australian-online-survey-sites-earn-1000/

      Thanks for the link to Adelaide Homeless Journal, I’ll check it out.

%d bloggers like this: