This fact sheet provides information regarding the support available to individuals in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19. It is organised into the following sections:
Section 1. Income supplements – page 1
Section 2. Job opportunities – page 3
Section 3. Your rights as a worker – page 4
Section 4. Further assistance – page 6
Section 5. Changes to tenancy arrangements – page 7
Section 1. Income supplements
For those self-Isolating and unable to work. If you already receive an income support payment – one of the three working-age payments below or another payment – and you are in severe financial hardship, you may be eligible to receive the Crisis Payment. Having to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus may be considered a ‘crisis’ for the purposes of this payment. Learn more here.
For those affected by workplace closures and unemployment. If you are:
- a permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job;
- a sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced; or
- caring for someone who’s affected by coronavirus
due to coronavirus (COVID-19) you may be able to claim one of these payments, subject to meeting income tests. The assets test and the ordinary three month waiting period has been waived. Click on the headings to learn more about these payments.
|Youth Allowance for job seekers
Financial help if you’re between the ages of 16 & 21
Financial help if you’re between 22 and Age Pension age
The main income support payment while you’re a young child’s main carer.
Each of these payments has a standard fortnightly rate, and receiving them may also trigger eligibility for other standard payments from the government.
- Rent assistance – for those renting in the private market
- Family Tax Benefit parts A and B – for parents only
- Energy Supplement – to assist with the costs of energy
- Health Care card – to assist with the cost of health services and medicines
This list is not exhaustive. You can use the Payment and Service finder to estimate what you may be eligible for. You may not claim these sorts of payments if you are also claiming paid leave benefits from your job or receiving payment from income protection insurance.
Under the current circumstances additional supplements are also available if you are eligible for other payments.
- A temporary fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement after 27 April 2020
- A $750 Economic Support Payment from 31 March 2020 if you’re getting a core payment on any day from 12 March to 13 April 2020
- A second $750 Economic Support Payment from 13 July 2020 if you’re getting a core payment on 10 July 2020
Craig lost his job. He has no other work so made his intent to claim via MyGov. He’s not eligible for other welfare.
The Government processed his claim on April 13. His first three payments are (figures are approximate):
April 13: $1,610 made up of:
· Jobseeker Payment and Energy Supplement (covering 21 days backdated to March 23) — $860
· Stimulus payment — $750
April 27: $575 made up of:
· Jobseeker Payment and Energy Supplement — $575
May 11, then every two weeks: $1,125 made up of:
· Jobseeker Payment and Energy Supplement — $575
· Coronavirus Supplement — $550
Source: Jack Snape, “The coronavirus supplement isn’t due for a month. Here’s why, plus all the dates your budget needs”, ABC News, 26/03/2020
For those who have not claimed Centrelink benefits before, these instructions will help.
Section 2. Job opportunities
Working for Victoria Fund
The Victorian Government is establishing a Working for Victoria Fund in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The fund is to help workers who have lost their jobs to find new opportunities, including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food – providing vital contributions to our state’s response to the pandemic and affording those Victorians security when it’s needed most.
Individuals can register interest in the applying for work under the Working for Victoria Fund at: https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria
Job matching services
The Victorian Government has indicated that it will facilitate job matching to help Victorians find short-term or casual roles. More information on this service should be forthcoming.
Transition support network
A transition support network made up of representatives from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s national, state and territory offices and Employment Facilitators, is available to assist retrenched workers to find a new job as soon as possible.
Retrenched workers or employers who would like information about the support available can call the Employment Services Information Line on 1800 805 260.
Jobactive Jobactive is a network of providers across Australia helping jobseekers find and keep a job, and employers find staff. Employment opportunities available through Jobactive can be accessed online at https://jobsearch.gov.au/
The Victorian government also offers some services to jobseekers, including Skills and Job Centres located at every TAFE institute in Victoria. Jobs Victoria also has a page dedicated to helping jobseekers find work.
Section 3. Your rights as a worker
The FairWork Ombudsman has information available related to your rights as a worker during the outbreak of coronavirus. Whether an employer has the option of standing down employees in circumstances relating to coronavirus is very fact dependent and an employer should exercise the option cautiously. Your employer must be able to demonstrate that:
- there is a stoppage of work
- the employees to be stood down cannot be usefully employed (which is not limited to the work an employee usually performs)
- the cause of the stoppage must also be one that the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for.
Your employer cannot generally stand down employees simply because of a deterioration of business conditions or because an employee has coronavirus.
Some examples of when your employer may be able to stand down employees include:
- if there was an enforceable government direction requiring the business to close (which means there is no work at all for the employees to do, even from another location)
- if a large proportion of the workforce was required to self-quarantine with the result that the remaining employees/workforce cannot usefully be employed
- if there was a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer could not be held responsible.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Enterprise agreements and employment contracts can have different or extra rules about when an employer can stand down an employee without pay, for example, a requirement to notify or consult. Employers should consider whether their obligations are impacted by any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employees’ employment contracts or workplace policies.
For more information, see the FairWork Ombudsman’s coronavirus advice.
The hospitality award has been altered to meet employer needs for flexibility in current circumstances and market conditions. There are two main areas where your role as a worker in the hospitality industry may change: number of hours and type of work. For permanent full-time staff, hours can be reduced to between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week. For permanent part-time staff, guaranteed hours can be reduced by between 60% and 100% per week or over the roster cycle. Your employer must discuss these changes with you and provide as much notice as possible.
Your employer can also direct you to complete work that may be at a different grade to the job you are employed under. For example, someone employed as a waiter may be asked to do delivery work. You must be qualified to do that work. You will be paid at the same award or a higher award if your new work is of a higher classification.
Your employer can also direct you to take paid annual leave. Find out more here.
Section 4. Further Assistance
Problems paying bills
If you can’t pay your electricity, gas, phone or water bill, contact your service provider straight away. They will explain your options, such as:
- an extension to pay
- paying in instalments
- Centrelink deductions (Centrepay)
- applying for a utility rebate or voucher
Victorians in mandatory self-isolation running short on food and unable to have any dropped-off by friends are now eligible for a “food and personal care package”, with a two-weeks supply of items like long-life milk, pasta, canned fruit, cereal and sugar, as well as some personal care items.
People wishing to request a pack should call Victoria’s dedicated coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
If your housing needs become acute, visit Housing Victoria.
Mental health support
While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Your mental health critical during this period of significant disruption by coronavirus, and support is available.
Beyond Blue has coronavirus resources to help at https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Assistance from financial institutions Mortgages
Australian banks including the ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and Bendigo Bank have announced that they will pause loan repayments for individuals in financial difficulty as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
Customers should contact banks directly on the numbers below to discuss their individual circumstances and access support.
ANZ: 1800 351 548 Commonwealth Bank: 132 607 NAB: 1300 769 650 Westpac: 132 142 Bendigo Bank: 1300 236 344
Financial difficulty and hardship assistance
Financial difficulty and hardship assistance may also be available from your bank to assist in the event of personal circumstances changing as the result of job loss. Customers should contact their banks directly to discuss what options may be available.
Financial counselling service
A range of professional advice is available to help individuals who are struggling to find a way to meet their financial obligations during COVID-19 to make important decisions about their financial situation.
- The National Debt Helpline provides a free financial counselling services is offered by the on 1800 007 007. The service is available on weekdays between 9.30am to 4.30pm.
- MoneyHelp is a non-profit service providing free, confidential and independent financial counselling and debt advice.
- MoneySmart is an initiative of the Australian Securities Investments Commission that offers tips and tools to help you with topics such as managing your money, credits, insurance, superannuation and investing. Their website offers a useful resource for individuals who facing financial difficulty and hardship as a result of COVID-19
Access to superannuation Some people may be employed but experiencing a reduced income stream due to COVID-19, such as:
- Sole traders
- Part-time or casual workers who have had their shifts cut
- Full-time workers who have had hours cut to part-time
People who can show they are otherwise employed but currently experiencing reduced income due to the nature of their work have the option of applying for partial early access to superannuation. Up to $20,000 may be claimed from their superannuation accounts over two years. Applications are made to the ATO. This is only optional, not compulsory, and income support payments may better suit an individual’s needs. For more information, please see this Fact Sheet from the Federal Government.
Section 5. Changes to tenancy arrangements
State and federal governments are currently negotiating what can be done to assist renters who face financial hardship as a result of job loss. These arrangements are due to be detailed in the next few days. My office will contact you with an updated version of this document as soon as the new arrangements are known.