11.4.2.30 Determination process under the VWPR Measure

Process for making, varying or revoking a determination for a vulnerable notice

A determination for a vulnerable notice made by a social worker under Social Security (Administration) (Vulnerable Welfare Payment Recipients) Principles 2013 Part 2 will be in place for a maximum of 12 months, but may be shorter at the discretion of the delegate. The delegate is required to review the decision at the completion of the period, or sooner at their discretion, and may determine that the person will no longer be subject to income management or determine that the person is a VWPR for a further period of up to 12 months. The factors taken into consideration when making this determination are set out in the 'Decision-making principles' (11.4.2.10).

The delegate may make a decision based on face-to-face interview, a telephone interview (where a face-to-face interview is not possible), or on relevant documents and information in the delegates possession (see below).

Example: Nola is in receipt of Age, and requests a referral to a Centrelink social worker to discuss family issues. During the course of the interview, Nola tells the social worker that she often has little money as her grandsons harass her continually for funds and become physically violent if she does not hand over money. Nola tells the social worker that she is not able to volunteer for income management, as her grandsons would harass her to cease it. Nola also discloses that she has been unable to pay her bills and is facing eviction from her house. The social worker assesses that Nola is vulnerable to financial exploitation, is not meeting her priority needs and that she would benefit from income management. The social worker determines that Nola is a VWPR.

Reconsideration of person's circumstances when a vulnerable notice has been made

A person who is assessed by a Centrelink social worker to be a VWPR may ask the delegate to reconsider their circumstances during the period in which the determination is in force. This request for reconsideration of personal circumstances is not required to be actioned if there had been a previous request for reconsideration, within the previous 90 days. This does not limit a person's access to review and appeal mechanisms as a review can be requested at a later point in time (11.1.13).

When reconsidering a person's circumstances the delegate must consider the factors set out in the 'Decision-making principles' (11.4.2.10).

Example: Astrid is income managed under the VWPR Measure. Astrid is at risk of becoming homeless and has a substances abuse issue. She is close to being evicted from her house due to non-payment of rent. The delegate has determined that income management would be an appropriate intervention, as Astrid has reported that she has difficulty managing her money and keeps forgetting to pay her rent. Following the delegate's determination, Astrid requests a review of the decision by an ARO. The ARO reviews the original decision made by the delegate and upholds the decision to apply income management. Astrid remains on income management.

Nine months later, Astrid requests that the delegate reconsiders her circumstances as she is now up to date on her rental arrears and has attended drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Astrid has also attended a financial management course, is saving up for some new white goods and is keeping track of her regular expenses. The delegate reconsiders Astrid's circumstances and determines that Astrid is no longer a VWPR. Since Astrid is no longer a VWPR, she is no longer subject to the VWPR Measure of income management.

Determination by file assessment

Where a reasonable effort has been made and the delegate is unable to interview a person, the delegate may make an assessment of the person's circumstances using relevant documents and information in the delegate's possession.

Relevant documents and information could include, for example:

  • income management information held on Centrelink's electronic records, such as BasicsCard use
  • income management allocations
  • immediate payments
  • payday changes
  • prison incarceration
  • carer information
  • whether the person is, or has, a payment nominee
  • previous social worker case notes
  • participation compliance notes, or
  • medical information.

Example: A local homelessness organisation refers David to a Centrelink social worker (the delegate) as they are concerned that David is continually unable to stay in accommodation due to his substance abuse. However, David does not turn up for his appointment with the delegate. The delegate attempts to contact David a number of times but is unable to contact him. David has had a number of contacts with other Centrelink social workers who have made detailed file notes. His Centrelink record also shows that David is regularly referred to emergency relief agencies, and has made several claims for an urgent payment. The delegate makes an assessment based on David's Centrelink record, social worker file notes and information provided by the homelessness organisation. The delegate determines that David would be assisted by income management, and determines that he is a VWPR. A file note is placed on David's record to refer him to a Centrelink social worker if he attends a Centrelink office to explain the decision and further explore his circumstances.

Contact with third parties regarding a VWPR's assessment

SS(Admin)Act section 192(db) allows Centrelink social workers to seek information from third parties for the purpose of assessing a VWPR determination. This will allow a social worker to contact a third party, with or without the person's consent, to obtain information necessary for the creation, variation or revocation of a VWPR determination. Information sought from third parties will be restricted to information that relates to the decision making principles for social worker assessment of vulnerable income management (11.4.2.10), including indicators of vulnerability (11.4.2.20).

Contact with third parties is not mandatory but may assist a Centrelink social worker in their assessment of a person's circumstances. Information received from third parties may form part of the overall social work assessment for the vulnerable measure of income management.

Referral to other support services

When assessing a person's circumstances the delegate should have regard to other services and mechanisms that might assist the person. This includes referrals to appropriate support services or alternative payment mechanisms (8.1.7.10). The delegate may consider individual factors such as if the recipient is likely to access these services and the availability of the service.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 192(db) General power to obtain information

Last reviewed: 17 March 2021