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Couples are Couples [Jul. 5th, 2009|07:16 pm]
Bob Bain
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Earlier today I was perusing the latest printed edition of Reader's Digest magazine and came across an advertisement from Centrelink Couples are Couples (Centrelink brochures)

What this means is that from 1st. July 2009 gay and lesbian people living in de-facto relationships are required by law to inform Centrelink of their de-facto relationship.

While this recognises gay and lesbian people it is a double edged sword given that once they advise Centrelink of the relationship then if both partners are on an allowance or pension the amounts they get will be at the rate for a couple rather than the rate for two single people living together as this Article from the ABC explains.

Gay pensioners required to out themselves to Centrelink

By James Carleton for Radio Australia

Posted Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:26am AEDT
Updated Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:48am AEDT

From July 1, Centrelink will recognise gay and lesbian relationships for the first time, but for same sex-couples receiving Centrelink payments, that hard-won equality comes at a price.

Under the changes, some may get less money, or lose their payments altogether, if their partner earns more than the income threshold.

And they will now be obliged to disclose their homosexuality to Centrelink.

For old-age pensioners in particular, that's raising concerns.


Centrelink's general manager, Hank Jongen, talked about the issue on the Rainbow Report on Melbourne's Joy FM.

"If information is drawn to our attention which indicates that you may be in a relationship, then certainly we will undertake an investigation," Mr Jongen said.

"At the heart of this is recognition that we don't want to out people. However, if we believe that there's a fraudulent attempt to deceive us, then we will seek information from third parties.

"We currently do that with opposite-sex couples and our behaviour will not change."

And therein lies the concern of both seniors and gay and lesbian organisations - that pensioners will be unavoidably outed when Centrelink asks questions of friends, neighbours or family.