Ombudsman’s report into Economic Security Strategy payments
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released his report into the administration of the Economic Security Strategy payments.
The scale of the Economic Security Strategy payments was unprecedented and payments were made within eight weeks of the announcement because the size of the global economic meltdown demanded immediate and strong action.
This decisive action – along with later stimulus measures – meant that unlike nearly every other advanced economy, Australia avoided a recession and much higher unemployment.
The Ombudsman received 156 complaints from payments made for 7.7 million people.
Eligibility for the Economic Security Strategy payments was linked to the date of announcement, consistent with the practice used for one-off payments in the past under the current and previous governments.
The Ombudsman has recommended that I consider an administrative scheme to allow special payments to be made to a class of people.
Following advice from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), I will establish a scheme to enable families to access Economic Security Strategy and Household Stimulus Package payments where there was a special change of care circumstance.
This will assist people such as foster and kinship carers who gained care of a child shortly after the eligibility date.
Families were previously ineligible for a payment if a child was not in their care on the announcement dates of 14 October 2008 and 3 February 2009, even though they may have been in their care when the payments were made.
The schemes will acknowledge the special circumstances of people who do not have care of a child on the announcement dates.
Under the Economic Security Strategy Payments Administrative Scheme, a person may be entitled to a payment for a child who entered or returned to their ongoing care between 15 October and 31 December 2008.
Under the Household Stimulus Payments Administrative Scheme, a person may be entitled to a payment for a child who entered or returned to their ongoing care between 4 February and 31 March 2009.
Payments will be at the same rate as the relevant stimulus scheme.
The Government estimates that the administrative schemes will deliver payments to an additional 2,000 families and carers.
Families and carers who believe they may be eligible for payment under the changes should contact the Family Assistance Office on 13 6150 or visit Centrelink website (www.centrelink.gov.au) for more information.