Australian Government Support For Individuals

Australian Government COVID-19 Support for Individuals

In response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government has rolled out a range of packages to support Australians at an individual level.

Support continues to be announced with the focus on scalable measures.

The key measures include:

  • JobKeeper: employees stood down or remaining employed or connected with businesses affected by coronavirus can benefit from the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. Employees will need to make these arrangements with their employer. Employers will have to apply to the scheme, be approved as eligible. For employees, this support will flow from their employer with eligible businesses receiving $1500 per fortnight per employee to subsidise wages. Changes to the Fair Work Act were legislated to enable employers to facilitate changes to hours, role and places of work in line with JobKeeper and many other measures affected working arrangements.
  • Jobseeker: replaces Newstart and many workers who have lost jobs have applied to Centrelink for the Jobseeker support. Many of the guidelines and obligations have been relaxed for 6 months. In addition to the increase to $1100 per fortnight, eligible recipients may also receive rent relief and other benefits. The eligibility to JobSeeker has been expanded to include sole traders, self-employed, casual workers, contract workers who meet the criteria. Many of the processes around JobSeeker have been streamlined and fast-tracked to facilitate a faster flow of funds and ease the application process and obligations.
  • Apprenticeships: support for businesses that employ apprentices.
  • Coronavirus supplement: for 6 mths, those on Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Farm Household Allowance and the Special Benefit will receive a coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight. This is administered through Centrelink
  • Concession card holders: veterans, social security recipients and other eligible card holders will receive two $750 payments one from 31 March 2020 and another from 12 July 2020.
  • Retirees: minimum draw down levels have been reduced by 50% so retirees and others to reduce the impact caused by falls in the stock market.
  • Deeming Rates: to assist pensioners, the lower and upper social security deeming rates have been reduced by .25 percentage points.
  • Superannuation: individuals impacted by coronavirus may be eligible to withdraw $10,000 from their superannuation in 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years.
  • Residential rent relief: with so many Australians losing jobs with the closure of so many businesses, their ability to continue to pay their residential rent is a crucial issue. While most of the legislation around residential tenancies is under state jurisdiction, the Federal Government announced a 6 month moratorium on residential evictions.
  • Domestic Violence services: support has been increased for domestic violence services to cope with the excepted increase in need in this sector.
  • Mental health services: additional support for mental health.
  • Telehealth services: individuals can now access expanded telehealth services via Medicare.
  • Work Visas: changes have been made to the working visas to allow workers to take on jobs in the agricultural sector to support the flow of food suppliers.

Many of these measures, packages and support initiatives have been limited to an initial 6 month period. However, the Government is reviewing the entire situation and will be scaling measures up and down to suit the changing scenario.

Individual industries and sectors have also received support through specific measures. You can stay up to date with what is available to you at www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus and www.services.gov.au