This page provides information about the temporary arrangements in place for JobSeeker Payment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes changes that will apply until 31 March 2021.
It also covers what to do if you have a claim for payment rejected, or your payment is cancelled.
Use the links below to jump to the information you need:
What is JobSeeker Payment?
JobSeeker Payment is the name of the payment that was previously called Newstart Allowance. JobSeeker Payment also incorporates what was previously called Sickness Allowance.
What are the April 2021 Changes to Jobseeker payments?
The Coronavirus Supplement of $150 per fortnight payable to people receiving JobSeeker Payment will cease from 1 April 2021.
From 1 April the basic JobSeeker Payment rate has been increased by $50 a fortnight from the pre-COVID Newstart Allowance rate.
Cessation of the Coronavirus Supplement will mean that people who receive JobSeeker Payment at the maximum rate prior to 1 April will lose $100 a fortnight.
JobSeeker Payment income test thresholds depend on the person’s age and whether they are single or a member of a couple; whether they are the primary carer of a child; and whether they have a partner who receives a pension.
The JobSeeker Payment income test and partner income taper (the rate reduction formula for assessing partner income), was relaxed as a special Coronavirus measure – see here.
This special Coronavirus income test and partner income taper will cease to apply from 1 April 2021:
- the income free area for JobSeeker Payment will be $150 per fortnight
- the partner income test taper rate will revert to the pre-COVID reduction of 60 cents a fortnight for every dollar above the partner income free area.
One-week Ordinary Waiting Period
The waiver of the One-week Ordinary Waiting Period has been extended to 30 June 2021 – see here.
Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period
The Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP) has been lifted until 31 March 2021.
People with a remaining NARWP balance as at 1 April will have their JobSeeker Payment cancelled.
People claiming JobSeeker Payment from 1 April 2021 will be subject to the NARWP.
Read more here.
People with a NARWP for JobSeeker Payment whose payment has been cancelled, or claim rejected, may be eligible for Special Benefit. There is a NARWP for Special Benefit but it can be waived in special circumstances – see here and here.
Seasonal Work Preclusion Period
The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period has been waived until 31 March 2021. This means that people who claim JobSeeker Payment up until 31 March 2021 will not serve the waiting period. Read more here.
The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period will be reintroduced from 1 April 2021. Read more here.
Mutual obligation requirements for JobSeeker Payment recipients have been gradually increased under the special COVID-19 arrangements, with some variations for particular states/territories when outbreaks occur. Read more on the Services Australia website here.
How is JobSeeker Payment paid?
JobSeeker Payment is paid fortnightly into the recipient’s bank account. It is paid for the fortnight that has just passed. It is not paid in advance.
Information about other income support payments
For information about other income support payments, see here.
Reviews and Appeals
If a person’s claim is rejected, they have the right to have the decision reviewed by an Authorised Review officer, and then the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Reviews and appeals are often successful. Although it’s not necessary, it’s a good idea to get legal advice before appealing.
To seek a review:
- Phone or visit Centrelink, and/or
- Complete a form called ‘Review of Decision’ and returning it to Centrelink. It is important to appeal within 13 weeks of receiving the original decision in writing to ensure back payment. For more information read this factsheet:
If you need advice about JobSeeker eligibility criteria, waiting periods, mutual obligations issues, or the income or assets tests – or assistance with an appeal – your local specialist community legal centre may be able to help. Find your nearest community legal centre.