Australian welfare rights advocates have welcomed changes aimed at preventing family violence victim-survivors from being punished under Centrelink rules.

Under social security rules, people must declare to Centrelink whether they are single or in a relationship. Those deemed to be in a “couple” receive a lower rate of income support than singles.

But advocates have long warned that the rule has a perverse effect on victim-survivors of family and domestic violence.

Leanne Ho, the organisation’s chief executive, said the changes meant Centrelink officers would soon need to explicitly consider whether domestic violence was a factor when determining if a recipient was a member of a couple.

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