Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Support for more than 5 million Australians on its way

The Morrison Government is delivering on its commitment to support Australians affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 after Parliament passed the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Coronavirus and Other Measures) Bill 2020.

This will allow about 5.1 million Australians to receive two separate $250 Economic Support Payments with the first to be paid progressively from 30 November 2020 and the second from 1 March 2021.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said this legislation puts in place a series of financial support measures for older Australians, families and young people under out Economic Recovery Plan announced at the Budget.

“We can now deliver more practical support to older Australians, families and young people through these targeted, temporary initiatives in our social security system,” Minister Ruston said.

“We are standing side by side with Australians who have been hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic as we fight the virus and reopen our economy.”

The $250 payments will support more than 2.5 million Age Pensioners, about 400,000 self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health card, more than 1 million people with disabilities and carers, 760,000 low income families as well as other eligible pensioners and veterans.

The Bill also established a concessional Paid Parental Leave work test which will allow about 9,000 mothers who lost employment as a result of the pandemic to regain eligibility for Parental Leave Pay and allow a further 3,500 people to claim Dad and Partner Pay.

Under normal circumstances parents must have worked 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of their child to qualify but that is being temporarily extended to 10 months out of the 20 months for births and adoptions that occur between 22 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.

Women who have given birth since 22 March 2020 can contact Services Australia to test their eligibility under the concessional work test.

We have also introduced two temporary changes to the criteria used to determine independence for Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance to support young Australians taking a gap year between school and further study.

From 1 January 2021, all Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance applicants will automatically be deemed to have worked over the six month period 25 March 2020 to 24 September 2020 meaning they only need to meet the balance of the workforce participation criteria.

We are also incentivising young people to take up farm work by allowing young people who earn $15,000 through employment in the agricultural sector in regional Australia between 30 November 2020 and 31 December 2021 to be considered as independent for the purpose of YA (student) or ABSTUDY Living Allowance, from 1 March 2021.

In addition we have made permanent changes to address inconsistencies with the Stillborn Baby Payment and Family Tax Benefit Part A bereavement payment to ensure that all eligible families who experience a stillbirth or the death of a child under 12 months of age will receive up to $3,606.81 in support payments.