CHOICE membership

MyGov / Centrelink


Apologies that this is convoluted. Unfortunately it needs to be. Please bear with me.

I’ve just tried to access a service through Centrelink’s web site. It requires me to log in via MyGov, which I did.

Now that I’ve logged in to MyGov, there’s no obvious - or non-obvious - way to find the Centrelink service that I wanted. There’s no search function, at least one worthy if the name. If I go back to Centrelink’s site, it doesn’t recognise that I’m now logged in via MyGov, and tells me, again (or still) to log in via MyGov.

So I wonder whether linking Centrelink to my MyGov account will work. I go to the MyGov links page and click the icon to link to Centrelink. I’m given three options, one of which is “I don’t have a Centrelink account”, which I choose. The first mandatory field is my Centrelink Reference Number which, of course, I don’t have.

After trying every possible combination of processes I finally give up and spend a few minutes wondering whether this is the most ill-conceived, badly-designed and user-hostile set of web sites I’ve ever tried to use. “Yes,” I finally decide, “yes, it is.”

I should say that I’m reasonably tech savvy, having worked in the industry for many years and having designed and programmed web sites, among other things. Perhaps I’m not tech savvy enough to navigate this nest of vipers. Or maybe it just it really is massively incompetent.

Now If I were a conspiracy theory type of bloke, I’d wonder whether they do it on purpose in order to prevent people from accessing services. But I’ve lived my life by the precept that if one is forced to choose between incompetence and malice, one should choose incompetence. I’m starting to question it, though.


I believe government has intentionally done this. I once had my ATO account linked. MyGov was supposed to send me an email every time I got an ATO document in the inbox, but it did not.

Ringing the help line the MyGov help desk said they could not access ANYTHING related to my account because it was secure and I had to ring the ATO. I rang the ATO and they wondered why I called them when it was obviously a MyGov problem. Going back to MyGov they suggested I could try unlinking and relinking the ATO and then asking the ATO to send me somethig as a test.

Nothing like the best of web sites with the best of service, eh? My resolution was disabling email from the ATO and reverting to good old rmail (real mail), addressed to my accountant.


Hi Fred

I agree with you about the extreme convoluted state of the website.

However responding to your comments, when I first log in the screen below appears:

At the bottom of the landing page are the linked services, which shows Centrelink. Do you not have the same??


Sort of. I only have the ATO and Medicare linked. Trying to add a link to Centrelink requires me to provide a Centrelink Reference Number, which I ain’t got.


I could give you the Centrelink/Monty Python answer and say: log in and you can find your reference number :laughing: .

Isn’t that the number on your Health Care/Pension etc card or on the very top of all correspondence you receive from Centrelink?


I’ve never had any dealings with Centrelink, nor have I ever received any correspondence from them.

But LOL, perhaps more Catch 22 than Monty Python. :wink:


Ring the Teleservice Centre number for the service your enquiry is about. Some wait times can be extreme but they should be able to answer the questions you have unless they are quite involved. In the case of involved questions you can request an appointment at a Centrelink office near you while speaking on the phone to the teleservice officer. If it is to see a Financial Information Services officer you can also arrange this in the phone call. The page linked here lists most of the phone numbers that you might require:

You can also use their Social Media pages:

Or you can write, email or fax them at the addresses/links provided at this page

If you intend to make a claim (claiming will allow you to test your eligibility) use but you will need to get a Customer Reference Number (CRN) to start your claim, which means a visit to an office with proof of identity ( so you can just as easily lodge your intent while there.

Or just phone or use their social media links

If it is an enquiry for information about eligibility or how to apply for a benefit or a card you can search the human services site for many answers to questions


It is - thanks grahroll. I’ll give it a go and report back. If no dice, I’ll call, as you suggest.

Nevertheless, we should be able to access services easily and effectively on the web. A friend of mine commented that, when she’d complained about it to Centrelink, the officer told her that you have to have the phone app installed, since it lets you do things that you can’t do through the web site. My friend’s response - “WTF?” - is the appropriate one.

Edit: The “Human Services” page simply directs me to the Centrelienk page that failed so spectacularly yesterday.


Do you sometimes get the feeling we are really a beta test of a matrix type simulation and nothing is real? It is hard to imagine the basic lack of common sense, routine incompetence, no quality assurance or testing based on evidence at hand, and nothing but arrogance so common across government from federal down to councils. It appears to start at the top and filter down.


I hopefully have sent you an email reply. If you don’t get it let me know and I will try to upload it here for you. The search box on their home page works fairly well but getting the search terms can be a bit harder to get right. If it is a search about claiming a payment or card use claim as first word eg to search for claiming Age Pension put claim age pension as your search terms. The result that answers your query should be, or within a few links of, the top results. When you visit the how to claim pages they do either include the eligibility requirements or provide links in the page to them.


If you’ve never had any dealings with Centrelink and don’t have a CRN(RefNo)/CAN(AccessNo) then there would be no point in you accessing/linking to their website. It’s only for people who have an account and need to do something with it.

If you are wanting to claim a Centrelink benefit, then you can start your claim here:
and you will be given a CAN when you register.

It’s not a straightforward process, so we will expect more questions :slight_smile:


They don’t give a CRN online as I noted in my first reply MyGov / Centrelink. You have to provide Proof of Identity (POI) at a Service Centre or mail your POI documents (originals not copies see with your initial claim form to Centrelink. I do not suggest the mail option and as I mentioned it is just as easy to lodge your intent to claim at the Service Centre at the same time as getting your CRN.

From the claim pages at Human Services
"If you do not have a Customer Reference Number (CRN)

If you don’t have a CRN, visit your nearest service centre to provide your identity documents, receive a CRN, and start using our online services."


Having recently gone through this process for my wife and myself I can confirm the establishing a Centrelink is a pain.

Having never been a Centrelink customer I had to go to the Centrelink office to establish my identity to get the aged pension.

This should have taken a few minutes, but because I had been born in the UK the poor officer filling in my details hit a brick wall - the Computer said No. Getting the Supervisor involved we ran through everything again, and again till, 45 minutes later, the Computer said Yes and printed off the forms for me to complete.

A few months later I accompanied my wife to the office to do the same. This went more smoothly and we lodged all the paperwork. A couple of weeks later Centrelink wrote to us asking for the same documents to be submitted - we had watched the offer enter the info into the system but they had not been saved.

With my CRN I could then link to Centrelink in the MyGov portal. Some things I can update online but mostly I am forced to go to the Office to get things updated/changed.

Good Luck!


Thanks grahroll. Nothing received, I’m afraid. :frowning:

Just re your comments above, If the search box requires that level of specificity, then there’s a real problem with it. I know that searching’s an art rather than a science, but at least Boolean searches should work as designed.

I did numerous searches and found the information I was looking for as it was printed on the initial Centrelink page that I’d visited, but it didn’t let me log in (as I described above) to take the next step - i.e actually make the application).

I downloaded the PDF of the application form, but, as I’ve come to expect, the terminology is unhelpful at best. For example, several fields refer to “taxable income” while others simply refer to “income”; does “income” mean “taxable income” or “total income”? Who knows - there’s no indication at all.


Yes. As I said, it requires you to log in via MyGov and, once you’ve done so, there is no way to return/progress to the next stage.


Thanks. I’ll need it.

Seriously - this is what I believe the young folks call “a clusterfxxx”.


The login is only for those who have had previous dealings with Centrelink and already have a CRN (Customer Reference Number). I strongly suggest you visit a Service Centre taking your Proof of Identity (originals not copies) with you and obtain the CRN. Once you have the CRN you can then link yourself in the MyGov website to the Centrelink portal. While there in the office advise them you wish to make a claim for whichever payment/card that you are seeking and they will be able to print out a personalised claim form for you, it will include your name and address and CRN. This initial claim form should also include an Income & Assets form for you to complete (if it doesnt have one ask for one).

This will at least secure your start date of eligibility if your claim is successful. Then tell them you wish to have assistance with your claim form and get them to set an appointment with one of the staff. This appointment should allow you to get answers to any questions on the forms that appear/are ambiguous to you. If they require further information to help complete your claim they will advise you of those details and provide you with the forms that need to be completed.

There are different ways some incomes are treated. Taxable Income is the same as the ATO definition of Taxable Income.
Generally though where a field requires the input of “Income” you place the Gross income for that item eg you rent a property for $12,000 a year (before any deductions for rates, insurance and so on) and they request the income from the property this will be the figure you use. They will ask for Tax Returns so they can calculate any allowed deductions.

The standard Income and Assets form has fairly detailed explanations of what each section requires and if you are required to submit further details it tells you which forms to request or download if needed.

But as I said above if you don’t understand some questions get an appointment to see one of their staff, they should be able to provide you with explanations and any additional forms you require. You can request a private interview room if you don’t want to discuss the claim/s at the desk of the staff member.


Haven’t heard that expression for a long time! Good luck with CentreLink…


[quote=“grahroll, post:17, topic:13374”]
The login is only for those who have had previous dealings with Centrelink and already have a CRN (Customer Reference Number). [/quote]

Wouldn’t it be sensible to say that at the beginning of the process, rather than simply leave people struggling to understand why the instructions don’t work?

I should explain that what I was trying to do wasn’t really all that important. This was less a cry for help than a critique of convoluted process that we mere mortals have to go through to do something essentially simple.

Sincere thanks for all that. It’s clear that that’s the way to go about it.

The point of my rant, though, was that the online process doesn’t work, and that it should.

One fundamental mistake that organisations - particularly large ones - regularly make when designing their web sites is that they work from the basis of organisational structure rather than user need. This requires the user to have some understanding of which area of the organisation is responsible for which service.

A well-designed site, on the other hand, starts from the question “what does the user want to do?” and concentrates on that, ignoring organisational structure completely.

I’m reasonably familiar with government structures, so I knew (or thought I did) where I needed to go - Centrelink. Being directed off to another part of the organisational structure is a problem, particularly where, as I described, the two don’t seamlessly interact. (Perhaps they do if you have the right credentials but, as I said, the user has no way to know that beforehand).

The bottom line is that it should easy and straightforward for all Australians to interact with government online. Is that easy to achieve? Oh, goodness me, no! It’s incredibly difficult to make something which is inherently complex (government) easy to deal with. It takes time, talent and money and, as we know, politicians and bureaucracies love to tinker with things, often making the programmer’s job a nightmare. Believe me, I understand that.

But a person of average intelligence, which I consider myself, shouldn’t need to have to make an appointment to have relatively simple things explained when they should available online.

Here endeth the rant.


Np I am glad the information has helped you.

I understood your original post and that you were venting frustration with their system. Even for those of us already in their system it can be and often is frustrating, even infuriating and sometimes downright demeaning. This has come about for a number of reasons including the rapid changes politicians sometimes demand to accommodate their ideology. An example of this is the current overpayment/data match conflaguration.

However as you seemed still a bit perplexed as to what was your best way to approach your problem, I and obviously some others tried to help you get past the obstacles :slight_smile:

I also recommend you report your dissatisfaction on the service/website/process to them. They have a few ways for you to do it and I have included here the link to their page about how to make a complaint and or provide feedback

I hope the rest of your dealings with Centrelink run smoother for you and that you get your current issue dealt with successfully and that they do that in a timely manner.