Exclusive: We talk with Centrelink’s Hank Jongen about COVID-19 support

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The face of Services Australia Hank Jongen joins YourLifeChoices for an exclusive COVID-19 podcast, taking time out to reassure members that Centrelink is doing everything it can to support you in these ‘unprecedented’ times.

He answers questions about the $750 Economic Support Payment, including who gets support and when they will get it. He also clarifies who qualifies for the second payment and what you need to do to get it.

Mr Jongen then explains how you can do your bit to ease the strain on Centrelink offices, how reporting works for pensioners, and how you can get a pension increase if you have been forced to cease part-time work. And for JobSeeker Payment recipients, he outlines the temporary $550 fortnightly Coronavirus Supplement, and steps you through making a claim if you’ve recently lost your job or income.

Finally, Hank shares his advice for retirees and pensioners to get the support they’ll need during the pandemic and how you can help yourself – and the government do its job.

Where do you go to find out more information about the Centrelink support payments? You’ll find what you’re looking for at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/covid-19

But if you have any other questions, Hank and his team are there to help. If you have a question, send it to us at [email protected] and Hank is happy to come back and answer the five most commonly asked questions for you.

If you have a question for Hank Jongen, please send it to [email protected]

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Total Comments: 21
  1. 0

    Mr Hank Jongen, what can one say about this individual! He must be in the know to keep his job. In ordinary times it takes about 1 hour on phone to get through to c/link. God forbid if you try navigating through a maze on their web site. Mr Hank, you DON’T want people to make contact! it may jeopardize the economy, truth be known!!!

    • 0

      ONE HOUR!!!!! Boy – you are lucky! Try 3 days!! And that’s if you can actually get the line answered. Most times it is just engaged.

    • 0

      So damn true, as has been for many yrs. After trying to decrease “allowable gifts” to kids to help ’em buy their homes, couldn’t find anywhere on Centrelink website re gifting. Spent many hrs on phone waiting/waiting/waiting – usually the call just dropped out, often. Have learned that need to do it in person as, altho’ apparently it’s on their website, it’s not. That was 12mths ago (+many yrs prior) – really feeling for all who now, thru no fault of their own, have lost their income. Centrelink’s a farce, has been for approx 10yrs, even more so since.

  2. 0

    This bloke, as usual, talks a good game but the reality is his domain and area of responsibility is in turmoil and an absolute disgrace. Wait times, even before this crisis were hopeless, crab a cuppa and a book whilst “on hold”, inconsistent information, very poor follow up by Centrelink Staff just some of the issues. Now pleading for a fair go, understanding etc of their difficult working conditions. Just get on with it, fix the on line system, employ more staff on the ground, be more responsive, not obstructive. Centrelink were a nightmare to deal with thru the Bushfires now they are using their lack of skill and management capacity to make this crisis twice as bad and traumatic. In short, a joke, more concerned with image and title than functionality.

  3. 0

    Jongen is in charge of Centrelink but he is also answerable to the government of the day which sets the policies for how his department shall operate. Blaming him or his employees is a waste of energy because it’s the same as abusing a console operator when fuel prices rise.

    • 0

      Hahaha -if he’s in charge, should do his job. If can’t – should tell us why instead of crouching down to an uncaring government. Same old same old – do what you’re told if want to keep your job, even if unethical.

    • 0

      Rather than an independent public service sector, a check and balance in our form of democracy, Howard and a few others eroded that independence and made them directly answerable to the government of the day, through contracting them instead of salary.

      Even Howard, for all his failings, had the cunning of an outhouse rat, and, of course, Labor is equally culpable here.

  4. 0

    If there is a problem with the $750 payment it is that the money is to be spent to support the economy and there is no guarantee that this will happen. Perhaps it should be like the NSW fuel card handout of $250 which can only be used for specific purchases and has an expiry date of 12 months. If the $750 handout was done the same way with restrictions that only allowed local spending and expired in 12 months, the money would be used to help the local economy.

    • 0

      Now that is a good idea and it should be followed up by the Govt. We have received the fuel card early this month and it most probably will last all year since we are not supposed to go anywhere. The $750 payment will be spent locally since we cannot spend it abroad with no flights taking us away, mine has already been spent on the health insurance premium and I have not even received it. Pointless having money in the bank anyway, no returns on it and if you have enough of it you are caught with deeming.

    • 0

      Dear God! What gives anyone the right to treat pensioners like three year olds, Horace? Pensioners are intelligent adults and we do not give permission to be told. “Here’s some money, dear, but I’ll just keep it for you and supervise your spending because you might get a bit confused and not do it properly.

    • 0

      I’m with Triss.

  5. 0

    OK.Hank what about people that were caught up in the Hockey disaster and due to a large decrease in their super pension will they may now be eligible for a small C/Link pension and how do they go about it.

    • 0

      Easy, floss, apply for the age pension like we all did and we get a reduced (part) pension. Lots of forms to fill in for me at the time (now probably on the net). Work it all out and decide whether it is worth it going through all that effort but if successful you get the prized pension card even if you only get a small C/L pension (as you put it).

    • 0

      We did it too floss, though it wasn’t easy. We had to jump through all sorts of hoops with C-link some of which were just bloody stupid. We have an asset that gives us some income but hubby applied for the pension and now gets some pocket money.
      Best thing as Mariner says is the pension card which gives you cheap medicines, reductions on car rego, rates etc…

  6. 0

    The Pensioner Smiling Assassin good old Hank who does not know what the hell is going on, but spin is his best tool

  7. 0

    Many thanks Mariner.Not the ancient one i take it.

  8. 0

    I would not give him the steam of my p.ss

  9. 0

    It would help a lot to get rid of overpaid public servants who are tied to their political masters via contract and have an inflated title instead of a job description. I’m afraid Fat Hank doesn’t inspire me in any way.



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