Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australia and Greece improve access to pensions

Around 50,000 residents of Australia and Greece will soon have improved access to the age pension from the Greek and Australian Governments with the introduction of a new social security agreement between the two countries.

Legislative processes for the Social Security Agreement between Australia and the Hellenic Republic have recently been completed in both countries and, following an exchange of diplomatic notes, the Agreement will start on 1 October 2008.

Australia already has 19 international social security agreements, with several more under negotiation. These agreements effectively close existing gaps in social security coverage for people who migrate between countries.

Our agreement with Greece will provide improved access to age pensions from both countries for people who spent part of their adult lives working in Greece or living in Australia.

For the first time, former residents of Australia living in Greece will be able to claim an Australian age pension and use periods of insurance in Greece to be counted towards the minimum residence requirements.

Likewise, Australian residents with periods of insurance in Greece may be able to claim and qualify for a Greek old age pension by taking into account periods of Australian residence.

The Agreement will also avoid the need for compulsory contributions to be made into both countries’ systems for seconded workers. For Australia, this impacts on the Superannuation Guarantee.

Over the coming months a public awareness campaign will inform the Australian-Greek community about the Agreement. Information about claiming payments will be available from Centrelink.

The text of the Agreement and answers to commonly asked questions can be found at Current International Social Security Agreements.