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 support will be paid weekly, after seven days of lockdown, 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.
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.
The Prime Minister said: “What is important, is that we ensure that the decisions that are made are commensurate with the risks that are faced to avoid any unnecessary hardship on Australians and that there is a balance of those risks assessed so that the harm we seek to prevent is not exceeded by the harm that is imposed by the various measures that could be put in place.
“And that is a decision that governments honestly have to make. We respect those decisions. Commonwealth, State Government, Territory Governments, all have got to make those calls. Doing it on the basis of the best possible advice and the judgement of those who are making them.
“The Commonwealth doesn’t seek to intervene in those decisions of those of the state but as we have demonstrated over the course of this pandemic we have stood strongly with the Australian people to support them through this.
“JobKeeper, JobSeeker COVID supplement, cash-flow bonus, all of these things, have played such a huge role in Australia get into where we are now, that our economy is bigger today than it was during the pandemic and there are more people employed than there were before the pandemic. So we have always understood the role of the Commonwealth.
“And what we are proposing to do in this situation, in fact what will be done in this situation, is we will be putting in place a national framework for circumstances where there are lockdowns imposed by state, public or health orders in areas that are defined as a Commonwealth hotspot by the Chief Medical Officer.
“Those arrangements will provide support for periods of time where the lockdown has been greater than seven days. So the first seven days, they are matters entirely for state and territory governments, as they wish to provide support.”
He added: “Remember, we are talking about somebody getting through the next week, who would ordinarily be in an economic situation where every dollar counts. Where those have independent means of supporting themselves for a week then I think they would agree that reaching out for Commonwealth taxpayer funded assistance is not something they would consider reasonable for such a short period of time.”
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.
The Prime Minister said: “[Victorians] want to know they will get that support and if you meet that criteria you will get that support next week and you will get that payment next week. It will be provided into your bank account as all of these payments ordinarily are.”
Access to Services Australia Disaster Assistance is via www.servicesaustralia.gov.au or over the phone on 180 22 66.