Centrelink – Rights and Complaints

Disagreeing with a Centrelink decision

If you disagree with a Centrelink decision, you can:
  • ask for the reasons for the decision in writing.
  • apply for an authorised review officer (ARO) to review your case (you should apply within 13 weeks after receiving the decision).
If you don’t agree with the ARO’s decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal—Social Security and Child Support division (AAT). You should apply within 13 weeks after receiving the decision).

If you’re unhappy with the first review decision of the AAT, you can apply for a second review. A second review is carried out by the General Division of the AAT (you should apply within 28 days of the first review decision).

It’s important to appeal the decision within the required time limit.

If you make an appeal outside of the time limit, you might not be able to get back pay. If you make your appeal within the time limit your payment will be backdated if your appeal is successful.

This doesn’t apply to debt cases and different time limits apply to reviews about Family Tax Benefits and Paid Parental Leave. Get legal advice.

If you don’t understand a Centrelink decision, get legal advice.

Reference: Legal Aid – Centrelink


Complain to Centrelink
  • speak to one of our staff :

  • you can talk with any of our staff, and if you’re not happy with their response you can speak to their manager
  • call us :

  • if you need help with a complaint, call 1800 132 468
  • if you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service– a national phone and internet service
  • if you’re overseas, call us on one of our international phone numbers
  • write to us :

  • online
  • send us a letter – postage is free from within Australia
Centrelink and Medicare
DHS Complaints and Feedback
Reply Paid 7800
Canberra BC ACT 2610

Child Support
Child Support Complaints and Feedback
Reply Paid 9815
Melbourne, Vic 3001

What Centrelink need from you:

Please be clear, factual, and tell us the outcome you would like. Providing your name and contact details will also help us to get in touch and help resolve the issue. If you provide feedback anonymously, we won’t be able to respond to you personally.

How Centrelink will respond:

Centrelink aim to resolve complaints within 10 working days. If they can’t resolve your complaint, they will explain why and let you know what other options you have.

If Centrelink need to contact you, it’ll be from a private number. For privacy reasons, we can’t leave a message. Unless your voicemail clearly identifies who you are.

Claiming compensation from Centrelink:

If you believe we have made a mistake that caused you financial loss or injury, you may be able to claim compensation from us.

Reviews and Appeals:

You can ask for a review of a decision about your Centrelink payments, Medicare debt or child support.  To do this, write to uscall us or visit a service centre.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal can review decisions made by Centrelink. If you don’t agree with their decision you can appeal to the AAT.

Complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman

If you’re not happy with the outcome of your complaint the Ombudsman’s office can help people sort out problems with Centrelink. https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/

FAQs https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/what-we-do/frequently-asked-questions


You may need legal advice if you:
  • don’t understand a decision from Centrelink
  • want to appeal a Centrelink decision, including appeals to the AAT
  • have been overpaid—get immediate legal advice before talking to anyone else or attending a Centrelink interview
  • are told you have to go to court, even if you’ve paid money back.

Agencies who can help

Basic Rights Queensland (BRQ) (BRQ) gives free legal advice about disputes with Centrelink.

Basic Rights Queensland’s state-wide social security telephone advice service provides information and advice on how to deal with Centrelink problems BRQ Help with Centrelink

BRQ undertakes social security case work and legal representation for clients who are extremely vulnerable and unable to advocate for themselves. Whether or not they can represent a client is also determined by whether their case has merit and the limitations of the organisations capacity.

The BRQ social worker provides services to clients in need of social work support in relation to their Centrelink problem, such as brief counselling or referrals to their local community agencies.

Check out their fact sheets BRQ Resources and Links

Legal Aid – Centrelink information:
  • Accessing your Centrelink file
  • Representing yourself in the appeal process
  • Centrelink fraud
  • Overpayments
  • De facto relationships or ‘member of a couple’ relationships
Townsville Community Legal Service gives legal advice and advocacy services to people in Townsville or north of Townsville with social security issues.

LGBTI Legal Service gives free legal advice and information to LGBTI clients, including legal advice in relation to Centrelink matters.

Qld Law Society – Find a solicitor can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Rights to Information

Qld Law Handbook

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