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Information for Private Practitioners about Centrelink access

Legal Aid NSW grants processes now allow access to the Centrelink database to verify client details. At present such access is only in relation to applicants receiving Centrelink benefits at the maximum rate.

The benefits are reduced delays for you and your client in submitting legal aid applications, and speedier processing of your applications by Grants.
Note: Failure to comply with these conditions may affect your panel membership.

  1. The terms and conditions for the use of Grants Online contain a number of requirements relating to Centrelink access: see Terms and conditions of use of Grants Online
  2. The electronic application form has a section asking the client:
    Do you authorise Legal Aid to verify your details with Centrelink?
  3. If your client agrees, they need to supply their Centrelink reference number and sign the Centrelink Customer Consent box. If your client has other income or assets, verification of such income or assets must still be provided.
  4. The signed and dated Centrelink consent must be obtained before you submit the legal aid application on Grants Online. The signed Centrelink consent must be retained for a period of five years from the date of submission of the original application for legal aid.
  5. If your client does not consent, then please retain verification documents as usual; there is no detriment to your client if the consent is not provided.
  6. If there are subsequent extensions, the signed Centrelink consent form must be retained for a period of five years from the date of the last extension request.
  7. If the matter is subsequently transferred to another private practitioner, you must still retain the original signed consent; your obligations in respect of the Centrelink consent will still continue, even if you are no longer acting.
  8. You must ensure that the information provided by your client in the application is as accurate as possible, to avoid delays due to discrepancies in data. In the case of discrepancies, Legal Aid will make further requisitions.
  9. You will need to update client details on Grants Online, including client consents; if the client withdraws his/her consent at any time, you must update the client details on Grants Online and notify Legal Aid NSW immediately.
  10. The signed Centrelink client consent must be provided to Legal Aid NSW on request for the purposes of audit by Legal Aid NSW or Centrelink.