Modernising Australia’s social security system

From today the JobSeeker Payment will progressively combine seven payments into one, replacing Newstart Allowance as the main payment for working-age unemployed people.

This is a critical step in simplifying and modernising Australia’s welfare system. Offering a single payment for working-age people, a single set of rules and a single set of rates will be simpler and easier for people to access.

JobSeeker Payment will better accommodate individual circumstances, meaning people will not need to claim a new payment if they become unemployed while they are sick or bereaved.

The JobSeeker Payment was announced in the 2017-18 Budget and was legislated on 27 March 2018, specifying the transition date of 20 March 2020.

What happens for current income support recipients?

Today recipients of certain current income support payments were automatically transferred to JobSeeker Payment. They are:

  • Newstart Allowance;
  • Wife Pension recipients who lived in Australia, were under Age Pension age and did not receive Carer Allowance.

Sickness Allowance recipients who require ongoing help when their medical certificate expires after 20 March 2020 will be supported by Services Australia (Centrelink), including through attending a transition appointment, as part of their transfer to JobSeeker Payment.

All recipients who transfer to JobSeeker Payment on 20 March 2020 continue to receive the same payment rate. Wife Pension recipients transferred to JobSeeker Payment receive a transition rate based on the maximum Wife Pension rate as at 19 March 2020.

The vast majority of people transferring to JobSeeker Payment will not have to do anything and will not notice any change to the income support amount or concession card they receive or their mutual obligations.

Other payment recipients who are affected by the change have been contacted by Services Australia to assist with the transition.

JobSeeker recipients still receive Energy Supplement and maintain their eligibility for other supplementary payments.

Anyone currently receiving Bereavement Allowance will continue on payment. While it has closed to new recipients, it will only cease when all existing recipients have finished their bereavement period.

Are there changes to mutual obligations?

If a recipient is temporarily unable to meet their requirements, they may be granted a temporary exemption recognising that job seekers can face unexpected family or personal situations that prevent them from meeting their mutual obligations.

In addition to the temporary exemptions from mutual obligation requirements that applied under Newstart Allowance, specific exemptions have been created under JobSeeker Payment for people who are sick and recently bereaved following the death of a partner.

What does JobSeeker Payment mean for people who may apply for income support payments?

From today people who would have previously claimed Newstart Allowance, Bereavement Allowance or Sickness Allowance now claim JobSeeker Payment.

JobSeeker Payment is broader in scope to include access for people who are sick or injured temporarily but who are unable to work or study rather than having them shift onto a different payment.

You can get this payment if you meet one of the following:

  • looking for work;
  • can’t work or study due to sickness or injury, even if you have a job or study to return to;
  • have recently lost your partner.

Are there more changes coming?

Widow Allowance, which closed to new recipients on 1 July 2018, and Partner Allowance, which closed to new recipients on 20 September 2003, will both cease on 1 January 2022 when existing recipients reach Age Pension age.

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