The Federal Government has announced Australians who have had their hours of work and income significantly affected due to state lockdowns will be eligible for a temporary COVID Disaster Payment.
The rapid support will be paid weekly to those workers who reside or work in a Commonwealth declared hotspot and are therefore unable to attend work and earn an income as a result of state-imposed health restrictions, which last for greater than one week.
Greater Melbourne has been declared a COVID-19 hotspot as of 27 May, and the temporary COVID Disaster Payment was put in place following calls for assistance from the Federal Government.
“We will be putting in place a national framework for circumstances where there are lockdowns imposed by state public health orders in areas that are defined as a Commonwealth hotspot by the Chief Medical Officer,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.
Eligible recipients will receive up to $500 per week for losing 20 hours or more of work, and $325 per week for losing under 20 hours. They must not have liquid assets of more than $10,000.
The payment will be made in respect of the second and any subsequent weeks of restrictions.
This support will be available for Australian citizens and permanent residents and eligible working visa holders. Individuals who are already receiving income support payments, business support payments, or the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will not be eligible for this new payment. To qualify, people will need to have exhausted any leave entitlements (other than annual leave) or other special pandemic leave.
The payment will complement existing payments including the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
By making these payments available, the Australian Government says it will ensure that Victorian workers get the financial support they need to stay at home during that state’s outbreak.
However, some unions and welfare groups have questioned the efficacy of the temporary COVID Disaster Payment, which will not cover underemployed casuals and temporary visa holders.
Access to Services Australia Disaster Assistance will be open to the public from Tuesday at Services Australia or over the phone on 180 22 66.