The Centrelink Experience: From ‘waiting, frustrating, hopeless’ to ‘helpful, friendly, positive’

National Seniors Australia regularly gathers data about how older Australians are faring across many areas of service access and general wellbeing through surveys, policy forums and qualitative interviews. The intent of this research is to raise public awareness of the issues facing senior Australians when applying for the Age Pension, and to better understand the scale and causes of the problems experienced by seniors in their dealings with Centrelink. National Seniors and Retirement Essentials have combined their expertise to report on this study. It is argued here that feasible solutions can be found that ensure eligible retirees are benefitting from the security provided by the Age Pension.

The due diligence (and important public accountabilities) required by Centrelink to assess Age Pension claims means that application processes increase in rigor and complexity to deal with misuse of the system, in similar ways to other areas such as taxation, and means and assets testing. While this rigor is a necessary aspect of the system, this study provides evidence that the process of applying for the Age Pension needs urgent attention.

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