Is lack of residence a barrier to getting centerlink help?

I had a chat with a person begging in the streets about the challenges they face. And she mentioned to me about a catch 22 situation. If possible I would like to know if the below description is correct or not.

If you are under 21 you can get a homeless allowance, if you are over 21 you cannot. If you don’t have a place of residence, then you are not entitled to centerlink at all, so you have to have a home to get centerlink help.

Because if that is the case, then this is something that has to be rectified as any artificial barriers to getting help will more likely keep people in the same position.

you will need a mailing address. i have been homeless several times and the times i didnt have a mailing address i was cut off untili got one. They said that without an address to send letters i was not allowed to recieve payments ~~~ VitriolicViolet

This may not be a policy issue but a bureaucracy design issue, where forums require an address of residence to proceed with centerlink claims.

What we need to do is to potentially, got to understand why they have that system, what the purpose of needing address details. And why can’t a checkbox indicating inability to fill in the address due to homeless status.

Maybe a band aid might be allowing homeless shelters to sign off as a residence for the homeless, because there may be other concerns regarding the lack of a mailing address…

Yes, it’s essentially correct. It’s only slightly easier for people under 21 because most teen runaways are that due to domestic violence and/or sexual assault and even DHS understands the colossal clusterfuck that would ensue if they applied their normal tactics there. Plus it gives them the excuse to crack down on the originating household and thus they still get to put a bit of stick about.


With respect there are myriad ways of providing an address “good enough” to foil most checks without necessarily being post-deliverable.

Ever heard of one-sided streets? The “old” capital cities are full of them.

Ever heard of milepost addresses (common in the countryside: 721 Somename Road means 7.21km along the named road. Pick a spot between properties and put up a tin-can-on-a-stick and its even deliverable too!)

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Now that is a very interesting bit of trivia. I think that the next time I want to mess with DHS I’ll change my address to something that works out to being right in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain. Either that or “just down the road” from the gatehouse to Pine Gap.

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In NSW, it’s known as the Rural Addressing System. I believe it’s part of the regulations administered by the Geographical Names Board. Most businesses and, as far as I know, all government departments use address databases. If the address you give isn’t in the database, precisely as you give it, then it won’t be accepted without substantial proof.

For thirty years, my property didn’t have a formal address. I’d just give the locality name. Then they named the road that runs through my property. That was handy. Then, they ran the border of two localities along that road, except that the border couldn’t divide a property, so the ran it along the northern boundary of my property. Suddenly, I was in a different locality. Two years later, they switched the border to the southern boundary. I was back in the locality I’d been in for thirty years, but the databases still haven’t caught up. When dealing with government departments, I carry a letter from Council to prove the validity of my address.

So yes, addressing is a problem. Heaven knows how beneficiaries (or anyone in need) cope.


If there is one thing a national identity card can help with perhaps, is as a standard electronic mail contact point. However to prevent abuse, it would be treated much like a normal mail and administered by Australian post office and thus require electronic stamps to pay for sending to that box.

You could then also arrange for the cards to be associated with postbox parcel lockers as well, thus still allowing for normal mails as well. But I think centerlink should at least be sending mails electronically.

So instead of requiring an address and points to identify yourself. You just need a biometric card. Plus it provide a secure way to electronically sign documents as well.

In terms of privacy, I think that it should be acceptable to store the biometric information into the card. But we should disallow biometrics being stored in a central server. I think that’s actually how passport works as well.

Oh and the ID card has to be optional, as it would not be a good thing if the government can absolutely track everyone.

With the Estonian ID-card the citizen will receive personal e-mail address, which is used by the state to send important information. In order to use the e-mail address, the citizen have to forward it to his personal e-mail address using the State Portal

I am not criticising the whole idea but a couple of points might be rationalised:

Would this be solvable by requiring Post Offices to provide public access terminals? Not real sensible to expect an unmotivated user to maintain a mobile device (and a modern ID card is practically one already)… maybe this is justification for an old solution: public telephone boxes?

Optional card containing non-centralised biometric information? How is this different from not storing the biometrics at all, anywhere? If a sensible signature lends itself to biometric collection then go for it but only to prove two messages came from the same person, or to narrow a reply to be readable only by an individual. As this is a non-criminal context there is no justification for holding on to such data at all between signings and this should be stated up-front in the scheme (i.e. no “leakage” of data between departments)?

Too utopian?

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I’ve been a big fan of the -give the homeless homes- solution to the plethora problems the homeless face.


There is a logic to that. A lot of post office has self serve terminals. It can’t be too much to add a keyboard and printer capabilities to it.

As for public booth, you have the vandlism risk.

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I am thinking an ID card which gives the user no tangible direct benefit is likely to be vandalised/lost anyway? (Reason for coming up with a solution which requires no user possessions and/or rolling this into some other useful reason for carrying them?)

To further clarify: I am concerned there is an implicit assumption everyone possesses a “smart” mobile device and this may not be a reasonable starting point. If this was not @mofosyne’s intent, please pardon me?

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I think you are right that there is an implicit assumption of digital access if government messages is delivered by electronic mail.

However its not an unreasonable pathway from an efficiency and reliability perspective to push people towards mostly all online transactions. It does however make addressing the digital divide much more pressing however. Thus at the very least I think we need to push to have ways of accessing the net in an accessible manner like the way you mentioned above.

I think ultimately what all the above discussion points out is that there is two sides to the problem. If we want to address a problem. We have to address both the rules that govern a system as well as how accessible/enforceable it is.


Type Rules Enforcement
Community Safety Criminal Code Community Trust/ Police Resources
Welfare Welfare Regulations Bureaucracy Complexity And Accessibility
Country Citizen Intentions Voting System Accuracy And Resistance To Bad Actors

So what this means, is you can have a very good law ruleset. But if your police is corrupt then overall it is ineffective. Also if you have a bad legal ruleset then even if you have a world class police it will not work.

Most of the time there is discussion around changing the laws around welfare. Which is important, but I do wonder how or if there is enough work to also address the bureaucracy of welfare as well. However I don’t have a solution for this aspect, besides pushing for internal reforms.

But an indirect method of reducing the Bureaucracy Complexity And Accessibility side of things is to reduce the regulation complexity as well. Which is why I’m strongly for the Universal Basic Income. Which I think would at least avoid the need to do what is essentially a workaround a dysfunctional welfare system by improving the bureaucracy side of things (By reducing the human computation of rules. Much like how simplifying algorithms in large internet web services allow for more cheaply servicing millions of people online.).

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They don’t. They move or die, but since they have nowhere to move to (as they’re in need), they become homeless …