Financial Assistance

There are a bunch of different government payments available to help young people out. To get an idea of what you might be eligible for, check out Centrelink’s Payment and Services Finder.

If you’ve lost your job or had your hours cut because of the COVID-19 restrictions (or in general), there are two main types of government assistance available: JobKeeper and JobSeeker. You can find full details about the two options on the Australian Tax Office (for JobKeeper) and Services Australia (for JobSeeker) websites. For now, here’s a rundown:

JobKeeper

Who is it for?

JobKeeper is for businesses and organisations who have been impacted by the crisis to help them continue keeping their staff employed. This means that you don’t sign up, your boss nominates you instead- so if for some reason they’re not able to keep paying you, the government has agreed to foot the payroll bill for a while.

Not everyone who was in work before the restrictions is eligible to receive JobKeeper payments, though (full details here). To be eligible you need to:

  • Be over the age of 16
  • Be an Australian citizen or resident (some visa types are included in this, check the website here for more info)
  • Have been working in your job since before March 1 (even if you have been ‘stood down’, or laid off originally and then rehired)
  • Be working parttime, full-time, or, if you are a casual worker, have been employed at the same place for at least 12 months

How much will I get?

JobKeeper payments are a minimum flat rate of $1,500 per fortnight. If you normally earn less than $1,500/fortnight, your work must pay you at least $1,500. If you normally earn more than $1,500/fortnight, it depends on your arrangement with your employer- but you still cannot be paid less than $1,500/fortnight.

(The one exception to this minimum is if your work is withholding some of your pay for tax purposes or a previous agreement- such as for HECS payments or salary sacrifice arrangements).

How to sign up?

If you are eligible through your workplace, they have to let you know and provide you with a nomination form or other method of nomination (e.g. through email). They can only ask you for some basic personal details.

Is there a deadline to register?

Eligible business have until May 31st to register.

What if I work two jobs?

You can only receive JobKeeper payments from one employer at a time. So if you work two jobs and are eligible in both, you will need to choose which job you register as your primary employer (aka your main job). Whichever job you choose is the one you will receive payments for.

If you are a casual worker and work full- or part-time in another job, you also will not be eligible to receive payments for your casual role as your other job will be considered your primary employer.

Is my workplace allowed to keep some of the payment?

Your employer MUST pass on the full $1,500 payment unless they are required to withhold a portion for tax purposes or you have a current salary sacrifice arrangement in place.

Businesses are not allowed to keep any portion of this for themselves. If you think your boss or employer is withholding some of this payment, you can make a tip-off to the ATO here.

 

JobSeeker

JobSeeker payments are run through Centrelink (not the ATO) and are for individuals, not businesses. That means to receive the payments, you’ll need to make a claim with Centrelink through the MyGov website.

Who is it for?

To be eligible for the JobSeeker payment, you need to:

  • Be aged between 22 and pension age
  • Have an income under the testing limits. You don’t need to be unemployed- if you work part time or casual and earn under a certain amount, you might also be eligible
  • Be an Australian resident and be in Australia on the day you make a claim (more details here)

If you earn over $104/fortnight, the amount you are able to receive will be reduced.

You can use Centrelink’s Payment and Services Finder to check if you are eligible.

How much will I get?

This really depends on how much you earn and your circumstances. You can get a general idea here.

JobSeeker payments are received every fortnight.

Are there any strings attached?

To receive JobSeeker payments, you need to be “looking for work or doing activities to help you find work” unless you have an exemption (e.g. if you’re sick, injured, or have a disability). Every two weeks you will need to:

  • Report any income received by you (and your partner if you have one)
  • Let Centrelink know of any changes in your circumstances (if you move house, find a job, get more hours through a current employer, etc)

You might also have “mutual obligation requirements”. This might mean you will need to apply for jobs or undertake training according to your Job Plan. Your Job Plan is set up for you by Centrelink.

How to sign up?

JobSeeker claims are made through the MyGov website, and you’ll need to prepare some documents beforehand. You can find a full guide on how to apply here.

Is there a deadline to register?

There is no deadline to register for JobSeeker payments.

 

What else is there?

JobSeeker and JobKeeper aren’t the only two types of government assistance available, so if you’re not sure you fit either of these categories or think you might be eligible for more than one, check out the Payment and Services Finder on the Centrelink website.

Other organisations such as the Salvation Army and the St Vincent De Paul Society also offer financial assistance and counselling to people going through a personal crisis, as well as a range of other types of support. It’s definitely worthwhile checking if they are able to help you out.