Ask Abe: Centrelink and Income

Dear Abe,

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

Working


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.

Abe.

More information:
http://srcusyd.net.au/src-help/centrelink/your-income/

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.

SRC Help: Fake Medical Certificates – Don’t Risk it!

It’s not difficult to find fake medical certificates on the internet or Wechat. It is not difficult to make yourself a fake medical certificate. However the SRC recommends that you do not use them EVER. In creating, buying and/or submitting a false medical certificate you are committing FRAUD. This isn’t just against University rules, it’s also against the law, and carries the risk of a maximum prison sentence of ten years, if prosecuted by the police. It is unlikely that the police would prosecute you, but bear in mind that it is possible. The University also treats this as Academic Misconduct and carries a very likely outcome of a suspension from your studies for at least one semester.

The University is very aware that there are false medical certificates out there and routinely checks Special Consideration applications and the attached medical certificates. The chances of them finding any fake certificates are actually very high.
Some students have tried to get genuine medical certificates and have been tricked into paying for false ones. This is unlikely to be a good defense for you with the University. Instead of using online services, see your regular doctor, or if they are not available try the University’s Health Service (Level 3, Wentworth Building), or go to your local medical centre. If you are too sick to leave your home get an after hours doctor to come to your house. Google will give you a list of these services available in your area.

If you are stressed or struggling to the point that you even consider obtaining a false medical certificate, your best option is to talk to someone about what’s going on. SRC Caseworkers can give you advice without any judgment. The University has a free Counselling Service, or you could talk to your doctor. There might be a way to manage your study load without risking far more serious consequences in the long term.

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?

Thanks
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 help@src.usyd.edu.au.

Abe

SRC Help: Week 6 – International Student Concession Cards

In 1989 the NSW government withdrew access to transport concessions for International Students. Since then international students have had to pay full price to use public transport. The SRC has always opposed this discrimination.

As a result of students’ vocal opposition to this discrimination the Government made a small compromise giving international students the opportunity to buy long-term travel passes at a slightly discounted rate. However this concession is no longer available. That means international students, while being full time students, and being unable to earn full time money, and still contributing to the Australian economy as our 3rd biggest export, still have to pay full fare.

So having said all of that, the SRC strongly advises students to only use correct tickets (e.g., Adult Opal card) when travelling. Transit police frequently check buses and trains and will fine anyone who has not paid the correct fare for their journey.

If you would like advice about a fine you’ve received, you can contact the SRC’s free Legal Service. Email your questions to help@src. usyd.edu.au or if you prefer to talk to someone in person, call 9660 5222 to book an appointment.

The SRC will continue to fight to international students to have the same rights to transport concessions as local students. To join this fight contact the International Students’ Collective on 9660 5222.

Ask Abe: Discontinuing Without Failing a subject (DC)

Dear Abe,
I’ve tried my best with my subjects but it just feels like I’m going to fail at least one, maybe two of them. Nothing is happening that is wrong in my life, I’m just feeling a bit distracted and bored. Is there a way I can withdraw from them without having to pay for them?

Thanks
Trying


Dear Trying,
The deadline for Discontinuing without Failing a subject (DC) is Friday of Week 7 You can go do this through Sydney Student. However, any subject you are enrolled in after the census date (31st March for 1st semester, 31st August for 2nd semester) is billable, whether through fees or HECS. 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 or a refund of fees. You will need documentation to support your claim. If you need help with this ask an SRC caseworker by emailing help@src.usyd.edu.au.

Abe

For more information see: the SRC Guide to Discontinuing and Withdrawing
http://srcusyd.net.au/src-help/academic-appeals/dn/

Ask Abe: Subletting your room

Dear Abe,
I’m going away at the end of the semester for four weeks, and need to rent out my room to help me pay for my holiday. Is there anything I need to know about what I can and can’t do, and do you have any tips for how to get someone in.

Looking for air in my b&b.


Dear Looking for air in my b&b,
Most lease agreements state that you need written permission from the landlord to sublet your house. I am unclear about whether subletting just your room would be illegal or not. If you do decide to go ahead with your plan, there are many facebook pages and websites that you can use to advertise your room for free. It would be a good idea to ask the person for a deposit for any damage and check their references. Any damage that they do to the house will be your responsibility.

Abe

The SRC can help with tenancy and accommodation issues. See our online guide or call us.
srcusyd.net.au/src-help/accommodation-issues/accommodation-guide/

International Student Concession Cards

In 1989 the NSW government withdrew access to transport concessions for International Students. Since then international students have had to pay full price to use public transport. The SRC has always opposed this discrimination.

As a result of students’ vocal opposition to this discrimination the Government made a small compromise giving international students the opportunity to buy long-term travel passes at a slightly discounted rate. However this concession is no longer available. That means international students, while being full time students, and being unable to earn full time money, and still contributing to the Australian economy as our 3rd biggest export, still have to pay full fare.

So having said all of that, the SRC strongly advises students to only use correct tickets (e.g., Adult Opal card) when travelling. Transit police frequently check buses and trains and will fine anyone who has not paid the correct fare for their journey.

If you would like advice about a fine you’ve received, you can contact the SRC’s free Legal Service. Email your questions to help@src. usyd.edu.au or if you prefer to talk to someone in person, call 9660 5222 to book an appointment.

The SRC will continue to fight to international students to have the same rights to transport concessions as local students. To join this fight contact the International Students’ Collective on 9660 5222.

Ask Abe: Withdrawing & Discontinuing

Hi Abe,

At the beginning of the year I enrolled in 4 subjects but I’ve had some family stuff happen and now I don’t think I can cope with that workload. What should I do?

Overwhelmed


Dear Overwhelmed,

The HECS census date in Semester 1 is Sunday March 31. This means that you can drop any subject before then, without any academic or financial* penalty. Before dropping any subject, make sure that you understand the impact it will have on Centrelink payments, visas, and travel concession cards. Dropping from 4 to 3 subjects will not affect your full time enrollment status, but if you are an international student you may be in breach of your visa. International students require faculty approval to reduce their study load.

Abe

*International students have an administration fee deducted from any refund.

Ask Abe: Flatmate Problems

Hi Abe,

My housemate doesn’t pay rent. Can I break into his room and sell his stuff to make the money that he owes?

Practical


Dear Practical,

No. That would be illegal, and leave you vulnerable to being prosecuted. Your choices for action are dependent on whether he is on the lease and whether you are on the lease. Start by asking him to pay his rent. This is by far the best solution.

If that doesn’t work, and you are not on the lease, you could notify the landlord of your situation and see if you are able to pay your rent separately. Chances are the landlord will not care who is not paying rent, and take you all to the tribunal, but as you are not on the lease you are not financially liable, and can find somewhere else to live. Keep receipts of you paying rent just in case.

If you are on the lease and he is not on the lease you could have him move out. If he has no written contract he has no rights, and you can ask him to move out immediately.

If you gave him a written contract, he is considered a sub-tenant, and you would be the head tenant, meaning he is covered by the Residential Tenancy Act. To get him to move out will require you to be compliant to the law, and you should seek legal advice (e.g., from the SRC Legal Service) to do this properly.

If you are on the lease and he is too, you are co-tenants. The easiest thing to do here is to leave the tenancy. Bear in mind that you are financially liable for whatever debts are incurred both as an individual, and as a group. Again seek legal advice to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

Abe