The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Guidelines for social worker involvement


This topic explains the following:

  • social worker involvement
  • who should be referred to a social worker, and
  • who should be offered a referral to a social worker.

Social worker involvement

Claims for the majority of benefits/payments do NOT require the involvement of a social worker. However, when social worker involvement is required in the claim process, it is usually for the assessment of a recipient's circumstances.

Social workers are available in Services Australia Service Centres and Smart Centres to:

  • assist recipients who may be in crisis or presenting with more complex needs
  • provide professional assessments and interventions in relation to income support entitlements, recipient safety, wellbeing and needs
  • exercise delegations for YA independent status based on the unreasonable to live at home provisions, and for a number of exemption categories under the CSS, and
  • provide professional assessments to assist with determinations as specified in the SS Guide.

Who should be referred to a social worker?

The following recipients should be referred to a Services Australia social worker:

  • recipients presenting at risk of suicide or self-harm
  • recipients aged under 16 years
  • young people aged under 18 years who are unable to live at home because of severe family breakdown, abuse or other exceptional circumstances
  • recipients who are claiming a payment in respect of a child who is considered to be 'at risk of harm'
  • recipients claiming CP and/or CA who are
    • under the age of 18 years, or
    • 80 years of age or older.

Who should be OFFERED a referral to a social worker?

The following recipients should be offered a referral to a Services Australia social worker:

  • Recipients presenting with multiple and complex needs, with particular priority given to

    • young people without adequate support
    • recipients who are experiencing or are at risk of family and domestic violence
    • recipients who have safety concerns in regards to seeking maintenance action
    • recipients presenting with complex or acute mental health concerns.

Policy reference: SS Guide Social Worker Involvement - Specific Payments

Last reviewed: