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Centrelink youth allowance - mental health

Community Member

I am currently moving out of home for the first time and am trying to fill out a Centrelink claim as I am a full time student and unable to have full-time or reliable part time work. I am a casual in two jobs due to the unreliability but do not make enough money to cover all rent, medical, and living expenses. I am going to be  financially independent.


My problem is that I am under 22 and unsure if Centrelink will consider me an independent or suitable candidate for youth allowance. I am moving for my mental health, but I don't meet the criteria for unsafe home necessitating a move. Applying online, I am being asked for the reason for my move and the option "home conditions make it difficult to study" is listed as including chronic illness made worse by living at home. This genuinely is the reason I am moving, but I'm unsure if Centrelink will take chronic mental illness as a chronic illness, or if unideal living conditions with family contact but without physical abuse or addiction etc. would suffice in the claim that the household exacerbates my symptoms. 


Basically I am wondering how being classified dependent or independent will affect my claim, I assume being classified dependent will dismiss it. Why are you considered dependent until 22 without extreme circumstances? Is my claim to chronic (mental) illness (which prevented me from working entirely until 2021) valid or enough to have me classified as independent?



6 Replies 6

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi tmas,


Ah, Centrelink is so frustrating.  I hear you.


I just want to clarify something though; you said you are younger than 22, but youth allowance eligibility is between 16-18 years old and up.  You don't need to share your age with us, but I just want to make sure that you are getting the right information.


Here's the info from the website: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/who-can-get-youth-allowance-for-students-and-apprentices?contex...


To get Youth Allowance as a student or an Australian Apprentice you must be one of the following:

  • 18 to 24 and studying full time
  • 16 to 24 and doing a full time Australian Apprenticeship
  • 16 to 17 and independent or needing to live away from home to study
  • 16 to 17, studying full time and have completed year 12 or equivalent.

You must also do all of the following:


If you are under 18, here's more info on some of the rules that apply: https://guides.dss.gov.au/social-security-guide/3/2/6/20


I hope this helps.  It might be worth giving them a call and discussing your circumstances.



Happy to say my age, I’m 20, nearly 21, and it’ll be my first time out of home (mental health kept me from working before I was 19, at which point covid was in place and I was a time uni student). 


Centrelink needs specific circumstances to declare you independent under 22. At 22 you are automatically independent unless specified otherwise, while the opposite is true before then. The conditions for under 22’s are an unsafe home, needing to move to study (provided you can’t do the same course locally), or proof of supporting yourself financially (min 30hrs work a week for at least 18 months out of the last two years). Clearly none of the above are true for me. 


My home situation is sticky but not obviously unsafe. I need to move bc the home exacerbates my symptoms hugely and it’s impossible to function, my psychiatrist is very supportive of this, but my course is 5 days a week, some days 9am-8pm and working max. 3 days while paying rent and expenses without medical concession card is pushing it. I’m moving regardless but the claim would help obviously. 

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi tmas,


Sure, I understand.  From experience an 'unsafe home' is more than just a chronic illness or general conflict, but tends to be an abusive household.  However, if you're able to talk about how your move clearly relates to your symptoms you could put in the application.  A lot of the criteria is 'interpretative' so it's really worth chatting with a CL officer.


I wonder if it's worth trying to apply now, and then if you do get rejected you can appeal with info/letters from your psychiatrist justifying why it's necessary for you to get YA?



Thankyou for replying, I applied and got rejected and spoke to my psychiatrist - I should be able to get onto Centrelink, the big thing was getting a health card! It's looking good atm, glad to say 🙂

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hey tmas, well done for persisting with everything!


You're showing great resilience in pushing for what you know is RIGHT. 
I'm super impressed! Wow what competence too. 


Great. Health Care Card. Check. 
Next step is?? 


If our society could support ALL Youth to leave an unsafe environment with all the supports available, we'd be a far healthier society over all. 
Well done for jumping into the unknown, knowing this is your chance at securing a better space for your mental stability. 


I'm super proud of you, 
Love EM

Community Member

I know it's been nearly three months but I got my card and I still live out of home! It's been absolutely healing and I've honestly grown so much - thanks for your support and while this is the first time seeing your message, my heart is warmed none-the-less 🙂


It's incredibly hard to acknowledge unhealthy dynamics in the home with people you've always known, and people who you love (even if you've been hurt by them). Those relationships have honestly improved with the physical boundary. Being told that I was "threatening" family by saying I was moving out, and then getting a warm hug as I walked out of the house for the last time when they realised I was making good on that promise, puts things into perspective. The person (not blood related) closest to me called me strong the other day... determined... I had such a visceral reaction that I had to stop and think. I have never been told that before, only that I was the emotional and weaker kid, that I'd always be young, and my circumstances made me helpless - asserting myself was selfish and childish. I "was smart and threw it all away to spite my parents". Everyone has the same issues, except they're "higher functioning" than me. To acknowledge emotions was selfish in a household full of adults with "real problems", who applied themselves to make something of who they were, and did nothing but sacrifice for me. Really messed up to teach a young child that now that I think about it, and learning that people love me out of choice, not biological obligation, and can admire strength in me when I act authentically, was really groundbreaking and I honestly wept - a milestone.