Australian Federal Government Creates Covid-19 Disaster Payments

[UPDATED] Prime Minister Scott Morrison just announced that the liquid asset test required for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which dictated you need have less than $10,000 in savings and shares, will likely be scraped from the the outset of any lockdown, as a fifth Victorian one looms on the horizon and new cases are reported in both Victoria and Queensland. This opens the payment up to thousands more applicants.

It also looks like that increased weekly payments of $600 and $375 respectively will be fast tracked to individuals from the second week of lockdown, instead of the forth.

The Prime Minister says “I will be putting to National Cabinet tomorrow … a new, we think, streamlined set of financial supports for states and territories going forward,” he said. “When we look at what’s been occurring and what may occur … we have to set up rules that apply right across the country.”

“It doesn’t matter what funds you have available to you in your bank account or that you can readily convert to cash,” Mr Morrison said. “[We are] recognising that we’re not just dealing with a one-week period or a two-week period, that this is now going into a third week with further decisions to be taken.”

Last month a new COVID-19 Disaster Payment was launched by the Australian Federal Government for people negatively affected by lockdowns. It won’t fully cover lost wages or revenue but it will soften the blow, albeit the tiniest bit, particularly in a post-JobKeeper environment.

The payment was launched to help Victorian workers who were unable to earn income due to the lockdown 4.0 restrictions and has be open to applications via your Centrelink account (myGov) since Tuesday 8 June. (Set up your accounts here.) 

Professional Beauty broke the news first that this payment would become available to Sydneysiders during the current lockdown from 1 July 2021, if lockdown extends past the originally mandated 7 days.

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed directly to Professional Beauty that this payment is now open to people Australia wide (not just Victorians) who are affected by official lockdowns longer than seven days. “The Australian Government is committed to supporting Australians impacted by COVID-19. The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is available when there is a state health ordered ‘lockdown’ for longer than seven days, in an area determined by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer to be a COVID-19 hotspot.”

All of the below criteria must be met for you to be eligible for these payments. You need to:

  • be an Australian resident, permanent resident or eligible working visa holder
  • live or work in a Commonwealth declared hotspot
  • be unable to work and earn income as a result of a state lockdown
  • be where the lockdown is for more than 7 days
  • have liquid assets of $10,000 or less
  • have used up other pandemic state based entitlements and all paid leave entitlements except annual leave
  • not receive income support payments, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment or a state small business payment

In a sentence, you have to be pretty hard up financially to be eligible. But this is the reality for many of us right now. You can get one federal (taxable) payment for each period of lockdown, excluding the first 7 days. You’ll get either:

  • $325 if you’ve lost less than 20 hours of work
  • $500 if you’ve lost 20 hours or more of work.

Find more information on how to claim the COVID-19 Disaster Payment. If you are in Victoria, you can read about how to access and claim other payments and services in Victoria.

NSW residents can apply here.

Other options

You may be eligible for other payments instead such as:

  • Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, if you’ve been told to isolate or quarantine or have to care for someone with COVID-19
  • Crisis Payment, a one-off payment if you’ve experienced an extreme circumstance and are in severe financial hardship
  • one of the payments for job seekers, if you’re looking for work or unable to do your usual work or study.

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