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.

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?

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


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. 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.