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How to Survive on Centrelink: Complete Guide

How to Survive on Centrelink: Complete Guide

Surviving on Centrelink is extremely difficult, I know. I’ve had to do it as a homeless single mother then later when I had severe health issues. What I learnt about how we are treated, the hoops you have to jump through to get help and the total disregard for your dignity was disgusting.

You are made to feel worthless. The media calls you a dole bludger, with claims you are rorting the system. When all you are trying to do is survive, get back on your feet and live. 

I get it. 

On top of that, dealing with Centrelink can feel like a full-time job sometimes. Waiting on hold forever, paperwork that needs to be completed, multiple appointments and constant changes. 

Your payment can get cut off at a moments notice, which you rely on to live. So you spend hours, days or weeks stressing and trying to get them to get it sorted. It is a nightmare. And unless someone has been on Centrelink, they think you are being lazy or dramatic.

I have written numerous articles over the years about Centrelink, discounts, what you are entitled to and extra help available. 

In this guide, I have included everything that helped me not only survive on Centrelink when I needed to but also thrive, build a business, change careers and have a whole new life.

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Christmas/New Years of 2009 to 2010 I was living in a garage with my two young kids, reliant on the Single Parent Pension. At the end of 2012, I was in a similar position again, only this time there was a protection order in place against my ex and a lot of court. 

In 2015, I was suddenly paralysed with level 10 pain which is pain so intense you pass out. Childbirth is a level 8. My boyfriend was unemployed and while we tried, we could not get proper help from Centrelink. 

Despite needing multiple surgeries and doctors saying my condition was permanent, I could not get help and had to survive myself. With mounting medical bills, legal debt from child custody and Centrelink being impossible to deal with, I was suicidal by the end of it. 

While leaving an abusive marriage and later dealing with paralysis and surgeries was difficult, it was having to deal with Centrelink that I found stressful. I learnt a lot though and have put it all together for you here. 

You can find out more about me at and 

How To Survive On Centrelink

Whatever the reason is you need to rely on Centrelink, I am absolutely not going to judge you. I want to help you live the best quality of life you can. We are fortunate to have a welfare system in Australia.

But despite what the media and numerous Australians think, it is not enough to live off or live the high life. And not everyone can just get a job. Disability, age, abuse, language barriers and education are just a few of the reasons it can be so difficult to get off Centrelink. 

Some people will need Centrelink for life. That might be your situation. I believe everyone deserves to have a good life so why shouldn’t you? This is why I have put this guide together. So every Australian can live a higher quality of life, even if they have to survive on Centrelink for life. 

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What Does “How To Survive On Centrelink” Include?

Everything from how to deal with Centrelink through to ways to make money is included. My aim is to make it as easy as possible for you. Take whatever applies to your situation and live a better life. 

What you might be entitled to:

A list of benefits, what they mean and how to apply. Because if you don’t know, Centrelink is unlikely to tell you. 

Discounts you might be eligible for

With a health care card, pension card, seniors card and similar you might be eligible for numerous discounts. Some vary by state and some you have to ask for.

Benefits from other providers

There are so many benefits from others out there to help you, including free money, bank bonuses and special programs.

We all know what a nightmare it is to deal with Centrelink. This section includes scripts, what to do before and after a phone call, how to document everything and what you can do if you are rejected or need further help. 

How to deal with debt collectors

My dad used to be one and has loads of tips. I’ve also included tips from financial counsellors and where to get help from others so you aren’t dealing with the debt collectors yourself.

How to afford medical expenses

Whether it is your own medical expenses, your kids or someone you care for, medical adds up quickly. This section covers medical, dental, how to get what you need and other advice.

How to afford education and school expenses

School fees, uniforms, devices such as laptops and phones, school camps, excursions and more add up fast. Sending a child to school or getting further education for yourself can be expensive but there are ways to reduce it and payments which may help.

How to get freebies

Australia has so many freebies available to you. This section has a full list of birthday freebies as well as sign up bonuses from various companies.

How to get discounts

Never pay full price! There are tips to help you get a discount on anything as well as ways to get cash back on some purchases.

How to live without

Frugal tips as well as specific tips for living without a car and other things if you have to. 

Housing and what to do

The cost of having a home can be huge whether you are renting or own. Having a home is essential for survival so this section provides options for you and how to make and save money on housing.

How to make money and how much you can make before it impacts your situation

You can make some money on the side while surviving on Centrelink. Some things such as online surveys can provide a few thousand extra a year without impact your payments. There are set amounts you can earn depending on your payment.

Also, once you start to earn more your payments are reduced by 50 cents per dollar you earn. Meaning, you are still 50cents in front.

Includes tips for updating your resume, where to find work, upskilling and LinkedIn. Plus dealing with the change of income with loss of benefits, how to secure childcare and get your work wardrobe sorted.

Most people don’t realise what a juggle it is to get everything you need to get a job as well as how losing things such as discounts on registration and electricity impact your life. This section covers all of that.

Further Resources

Surviving on Centrelink is not impossible if you have the right help. This section includes free resources I recommend including podcasts, websites and organisations.

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