News National Centrelink recognises ‘friends with benefits’

Centrelink recognises ‘friends with benefits’

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Welfare recipients can be live-in “friends with benefits” without losing their Centrelink benefits, a federal tribunal has ruled.

The Canberra Times reports Centrelink attempted to deny a Queensland woman a carer’s allowance because she sometimes had sex with her housemate.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal overruled the attempt at a hearing in Brisbane, which will become a case study for casual partners around Australia.

The woman, Ms T, claimed a carer’s allowance in 2012 to look after her mother, but Centrelink claimed she was in a defacto relationship with Mr D meaning he supported her.

But in her appeal, 46-year-old Ms T said her relationship with Mr D was not exclusive, and she wanted to “enjoy her life” often meeting other men for “physical companionship”.

She said while she shared a house with Mr D they lived in separate rooms and were financially independent with no joint assets.

“Importantly, it was noted that at no time did Mr D support Ms T,” Mr Wulf said.

The AAT heard it was understandable there was confusion, as in her initial application Ms T had indicated she was part of a couple.

But she had also made clear on her form that her relationship with Mr D was “friends with benefits”.

Centrelink’s case had relied on the intimacy between Ms T and Mr D but the AAT found there was more to a relationship than sex.

“From the evidence of both Ms T and Mr D, it would appear that the relationship is not in any way monogamous, in fact, it is quite the opposite,” Mr Wulf noted.
“The openness of the relationship, if one exists other than sharing a bed, would suggest that sex outside the relationship was the norm,” AAT tribunal member Peter Wulf wrote in his decision.

“When considering a normal de facto relationship it would be unusual, in the tribunal’s opinion, for such actions to occur with such regularity.

“On this basis, the tribunal does not find that Ms T and Mr D are in a de facto relationship.”