Welfare and family payment recipients now have a number to call to find out if they need to tell the Government about their same-sex relationships.

Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig, said Centrelink, Medicare Australia and the Child Support Agency are rolling out the changes which will enable same-sex couples and their children to be recognised equally by Commonwealth law.

We have set up the hotline to make sure people who are members of a same sex couple have the chance to talk to Centrelink about the changes which take effect from next July, Senator Ludwig said.

We know from talking to the community that clear, easily accessible information about the changes is a vital part of the implementation. That’s why we have established this phone line.

Senator Ludwig said the historic legislation will remove same-sex discrimination from a wide range of Commonwealth laws.

The Rudd Government is delivering on its election commitment to provide equality of treatment between same-sex and opposite-sex de facto couples, he said.

From 1 July 2009, same-sex de facto couples and their children will be able to register as a family for the purposes of the Medicare Safety Net.

They will also be able to access the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as a family. This will provide real benefits and recognition for these families.

Changes to Child Support legislation will recognise new parentage laws for same-sex couples. Where same-sex couples separate, they will be able to apply for child support -“ just like other families.

The agencies in my portfolio will communicate details of the changes to their customers over the coming months.

People will be able to tell Centrelink about their relationship status from 30 March 2009, by phone, or in person at a Centrelink Customer Service Centre.

These changes will affect a range of Government services and entitlements. For more information visit the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department.

Centrelink customers can call the hotline on 13 62 80 for additional information about how the changes will be affect them.

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