Reza, a full time student, was referred to BRQ by a homelessness intervention service.
While Reza, originally from Bangladesh, had been a permanent resident since 2005, her husband, Rasel, was not and was currently on a bridging visa. As a consequence Rasel had no entitlement to a Centrelink payment (not having the specific type of visa required for eligibility for special benefit).
Rasel was also prevented from working by the conditions of his visa. Thankfully Reza and Rasel lived in public housing, but with a recent rent increase, Reza had been finding it more and more difficult to support the both of them on the partnered rate of Newstart Allowance and, having accumulated some rental arrears, had been given notice to leave by Department of Housing.
BRQ made contact with Centrelink on Reza’s behalf to request that Centrelink exercise a discretion available to them under s24 of the Act to pay her at the higher, single rate of Newstart on the basis that there were special circumstances in the case preventing her and Rasel from pooling their finances and as a result they were in financial hardship.
Centrelink granted this request, increasing Reza’s rate of payment. Further advocacy from the BRQ resulted in Centrelink finding a basis for this rate being paid from an earlier date resulting in Reza receiving additional arrears paid as a lump sum. Reza was now in a position to work with the homelessness intervention service to resolve her housing problems.