Ask Abe: Centrelink and Income

Dear Abe,

How much can I work while I’m on Youth Allowance?


Dear Working,

Youth Allowance and Austudy recipients have a Student Income Bank (SIB), which allows you to work while receiving a Centrelink payment. Each fortnight you are allowed to earn $437 without any reduction to your payment. If you earn less than $437 in that fortnight, the remainder is carried over to the next fortnight. This can accumulate to a maximum of $10,900 a year. If you earn more than your SIB in a fortnight, your Centrelink payment is reduced by
50 cents per dollar for every dollar between $437 and $524, then 60 cents per dollar for every dollar afterwards.

These amounts are current as at March 2018, and will change a couple of times a year.


More information:

SRC Help: Week 7 – Keep your receipts and records

Wouldn’t it be great if we could trust that everyone did the right thing by us. Sadly we can’t. That’s where receipts and contracts come in.

When you pay a deposit, or rent, or any other bill, get a receipt. A printed receipt. On paper. Perferably in English. Take a photo of it, and email it to yourself, just in case you need it in the future. Having a record of the electronic bank transfer will not necessarily substitute for a receipt. Where possible it is best to have both.

A receipt is the only way that you can prove that you have actually paid. This may become useful in the future if someone, like your landlord, or housemates were to insist that you did not pay that money, or that you paid less.

If you live in a home where the landlord or (their agent) does not live, you are considered a tenant and should have a lease. If you live with your landlord (or their agent) you are a boarder or lodger, and should have a contract. This should show what the address is, how much you are meant to pay, when you are meant to move in, when you are meant to move out, and sometimes what happens if you move out earlier. It is important to keep a copy of your lease or contract, so that you can prove if there is a breach of the lease or contract. Again, you could scan it and email yourself a copy. This in turn may help you to claim back any money you are owed.

The SRC has had many cases where students have paid bond for their home, then moved out, and had their landlord refuse to refund the bond, saying that they didn’t pay any. Similarly we have seen landlords claim that students were behind in rent. We have even seen landlords agree that a student could move out of the home early and charged them extra money for this. In all of these cases written records would have helped the student at the tribunal.

The SRC has caseworkers able to help with tenancy and accommodation issues like this. Make an appointment by calling 9660 5222.

Ask Abe: Discontinue Not Fail (DC)

Dear Abe,

I recently had some family stuff happen and now I think I might fail a couple of subjects if I don’t do something about it. Is there a way that I can have them wiped off my record, and just pick them up next semester?

Avoiding a Fail
Dear Avoiding a Fail,

The deadline for applying for a Discontinuing without Fail (DC) grade is the Friday of week 7, and in this semester that is 27th April. You can go do this through Sydney Student. There is no academic penalty for DC subjects; however, you are still liable for the HECS/fees. If there is a compelling reason that you need to drop the subject now, like unexpected illness or misadventure, you could apply for a remission of HECS/fees. You will need documentation to support your claim, and you will need very strong supporting documents. If you need help with this ask an SRC caseworker by emailing


ASK ABE: Earning while on Youth Allowance – Student Income Bank

Dear Abe,

I am on a Youth Allowance payment and I also work a casual job with varying hours. Sometimes I receive the full payment just under $500, but other times I get much less than that. I heard that there is some sort of banking system that affects the amount of money I get, but I am very confused by all of this. Could you please explain why my payments vary?

Nursing Student

Dear Nursing Student,

The banking system you are talking about is Centrelink’s way of keeping track of the extra money you are earning. It is called the Student Income Bank. Each fortnight you are allowed to earn $427 without any reduction in your Youth Allowance. If you earn less than $427, the left over carries over to the following fortnight. For example, if you only earned $147 in the first fortnight, you will be allowed to earn $727 ($427 + $300) in the second fortnight. This process keeps going until you’ve accumulated a maximum of $10,600. Your Youth Allowance payment is reduced when you have earned more than your Student Income Bank. That is, by 50 cents in the dollar for amounts between $427 and $512, then by 60 cents in the dollar for income over $512. If you are unsure about whether you have been paid the correct amount, gather all your paperwork and talk to an SRC Caseworker about it.


Ask Abe – International Student Super & Tax Returns

Hello Abe,

My friend told me that I can get back the superannuation payments that my boss made while I was working here. I am going home to my country in December. What do I need to do?

Overseas Money

Hello Overseas Money,

The news on this is great for international students. If you worked here your boss could have paid money into a Superannuation fund for you. This is meant to be savings for your retirement, however, since it is unlikely that you will be here then, you can usually have it now. Of course there are conditions like your visa has expired or been cancelled and you have to be out of the country to apply. You’ll need all of the details of your Superannuation fund so keep copies of the statements that they send you. Go online to apply – Normally you will get your money about a month later.

Remember also, that you can fill out a tax refund from any wages you earned. Do this before you leave Australia. Again ask the Australian Tax Office for the forms you need.


ASK ABE: Centrelink payments cut off

Dear Abe,

I hope you can help me with a problem I have with Centrelink. I am in my third year of my health science course and I am on a Youth Allowance payment. Even though I didn’t receive anything previously, they say that the one year I did at another uni doing a similar course counts towards the amount of time I’m allowed to study and my payments will run out in the middle of the year. Is this true? And if so, what can I do?

Healthy Now


Dear Healthy Now,

The basic formula for the “satisfactory progress” (or maximum allowable time for completion for Austudy) of your course is the normal length of your course plus the length of one subject. For example, for a Bachelor of Arts course that would be 3 years plus 1 semester. If you had completed the previous course, you would be allowed the full 3 years plus 1 semester. If you withdrew from the course, because of “special circumstances beyond (your) control”, you would also be allowed the full 3 years plus 1 semester. However, if you did not complete the previous course, and you did not have special circumstances causing you to withdraw, the amount of time allowed would include the time spent at the other course.

So to answer your question, if you had special circumstances (with documentation) you would be able to study for 7 semesters in this degree and be payable. If you did not have special circumstances, you would be eligible for 7 semesters minus 2 semesters (from previous study).

If you were on an Austudy payment this answer would be completely different!
In terms of alternative payments for the period not covered by Youth Allowance you should talk to an SRC Caseworker to see if there is another payment available.