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Centrelink Lines Longer Than Ever

Centrelink lines with social distancing

Last night Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new round of businesses that would have to close their doors, and today the lines at Centrelink were longer than ever.

The photos and video featured in this article were taken at the Centrelink Centre at Eastgardens Westfield. In line with social distancing advice, people waiting in line were told to stay 1.5 metres apart.

The person who took this footage previously worked 37 hours a week at Stonewall on Oxford Street before the establishment was forced to close. He lined up at 8.30am and waited in line until closing at 4.30pm, but still didn’t get seen by Centrelink staff.

In an attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has prohibited real estate auctions, outdoor and indoor markets, beauty salons, cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, concert venues, gyms and fitness centres, swimming pools, hotels, libraries and galleries, among many other establishments from operating.

These new restrictions have put many Australians out of work.

Centrelink has announced a range of support packages to assist those who have been hit by the COVID-19 crisis. However, many have found it exceedingly difficult to access these payments.

Heidi, a 20-year-old who recently worked at the local RSL, said there was a 200-metre line when she went to Brookvale Centrelink yesterday: “I waited for five and a half hours in the line for Centrelink, only to be given a reference number to do it all online.”

“Though when you go online it shuts down because there’s so many people on. I had to wake up at 3am this morning to get on. Part of the process is a phone interview, but the next available call was on the 22nd of April, almost a month away,” Heidi said. “Super frustrating, and now I’m not even sure I’ll get money until May.”

Centrelink lines with social distancing  Sydney

On top of the usual Centrelink payments – JobSeek Payment, Youth Allowance for job seekers, Youth Allowance for students, Austudy, ABSTUDY for students, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefits – the government has promised to give a fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement payment.

It also said Crisis Payments would be made available if you need to self-isolate and are in severe financial hardship.

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