Ivan was referred from a homeless service which could not assist Ivan and his family to secure accommodation as, at their extremely low level of income, rent was not sustainable.

Ivan needed income support to supplement what he was able to earn through paid work. Ivan’s wife and seriously ill baby were both in hospital, where the baby’s status had recently been changed to palliative. The hospital would not release Ivan’s baby to go home for palliative care as there was no appropriate home to go to: they were renting one small room in a crowded share-house.

Ivan had lodged a claim for Newstart Allowance which was likely to be refused because he was not officially unemployed – he was working 8 hours a week. BRQ supported Ivan to make Carer Payment and Carer Allowance claims, requesting priority processing.

BRQ suggested that Ivan’s wife make a claim for Special Benefit and advocated to Centrelink on her behalf on the basis that the change in the baby’s health status to palliative should be regarded as a “substantial change in circumstances” beyond the mother’s control subsequent to her arrival in Australia, allowing for waiver of the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period.

Special Benefit was granted at the maximum basic rate, subject to income testing in respect of Ivan’s employment income only. The family could now be assisted by the homeless service to find more suitable accommodation where both Ivan and his wife could care for their child.