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This study drew on DOMINO (Data Over Multiple Individual Occurrences), a Department of Social Services database that records all interactions with Centrelink since 2001. This daily, event-based data provides an important opportunity to track individual patterns of NSA receipt over a 16-year period (2001–2016).

The findings highlight some significant misunderstandings about the scale, scope and conditionality of Newstart Allowance receipt. While longer-term reliance on NSA is an important policy issue, short-term reliance is underestimated. An increasing share of recipients—especially women—are facing irregular payments due to suspensions. The analysis raises questions about the extent to which the Australian social security system is fulfilling its mission to improve the lifetime wellbeing of individuals and families.

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