Rebates and the problem with government websites

Article published 18 May 2022

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Navigating government websites can be a nightmare.

The Australian Government’s website is a prime example of a website you only go on after taking a deep breath, downing a stiff brandy and leaving a note for a search party to be sent out in case you get lost.

State and territory government websites can often be tricky, too.

You’re sure you heard about a rebate you can apply for but you just can’t find it anywhere.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to the point where you question if all the work is really worth it.

And that’s just for those who have access to a computer.

Finding the right information without being online is a whole different struggle of course. Counter staff will sometimes stare at you as if you’re from outer space if you tell them you’re not online.

But often it is not just the sometimes clunky architecture of government websites that can let you down. Confusion can also be caused by how government schemes are set up.

The NSW Government’s energy rebate is a case in point.

For starters, there is not one energy rebate but six:

The Family Energy Rebate, for those receiving Family Tax Benefit.

The Seniors Energy Rebate, for holders of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

The Low Income Household Rebate, if you have a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or DVA Gold Card.

The Gas Rebate, with the same requirements.

The Medical Energy Rebate, which requires a concession card, but also an assessment from a registered medical practitioner.

And lastly, there’s the Life Support Energy Rebate, for which you need to be assessed by a registered medical practitioner.

But even once you know what’s available you need to figure out how to apply for them.

Some require you to apply through Service NSW, others directly through energy providers. Some need to be reapplied for each year, others every two years.

It’s no wonder that of all the eligible households only 55 per cent actually received the rebates for which they were eligible in the 2020-21 financial year.

The Seniors Rebate had one of the lowest uptakes with only 26 per cent of eligible people receiving it. You need to apply for it every financial year.

Help is on its way however. There is something in the works at Service NSW to make this all easier and to increase the number of eligible people claiming rebates.

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