Residents of NSW and the ACT who have been receiving Covid-19 Disaster Payments have been told that their payments were officially discontinued on Friday 8th October. The discontinuation comes as the two jurisdictions both reached the 70 percent vaccination threshold target.
In an update made on Friday 8th October, Services Australia confirmed that the payments have automatically “stopped”, with recipients now required to apply every week to claim the $750 payments.
The ACT hit its 70 percent fully vaccinated threshold on 8th October, while NSW hit it on 7th October.
The Federal Government announced the changes to the distribution of Covid-19 Disaster Payments back in late September 2021.
“These Covid disaster payments, these business support payments have been emergency payments and we can’t continue them forever, nor can we continue lockdowns forever. If you look abroad, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States – countries are starting to live with Covid,” said Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg back in September.
Over the past few weeks close to 1.7 million Australians living across Victoria, NSW and ACT have been receiving the payments during recent lockdowns.
“People whose income is still affected may still be eligible for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment. “Claiming online, through myGov, remains the quickest and easiest way to claim –more than 90 per cent of claims are made online and some claims are processed within hours,” said Federal Minister for Government Services Linda Reynolds in a statement to the media on Thursday 7th October.
Most people in Greater Sydney and NSW will have received their last automatic payment at the beginning of the week and will be able to claim from 10th October.
People living in the inner suburbs of Sydney should have received their final automatic payment on 7th October and will be able to claim from 14th October, while those who are receiving Centrelink top-up payments can claim from 18th October.
Important dates for claiming the COVID-19 Disaster Payments
Individuals living in the ACT who have been receiving the payments will have 1-7 October as their last relevant period for automatic payments. People living in Greater Sydney and NSW will have their last relevant period for the automatic payments falling on 3-9 October.
People in Sydney will have their last period for automatic payments from 7-11 October. People who received the Centrelink top-up payments will have their last relevant period from 5-11 October.
Payments to fall when states hit 80 percent vaccination target
At the present time, Australians living in lockdown regions also defined as Covid-19 hotspots can claim $450 if they have lost between 8 and 20 hours of work a week.
People who have lost over 20 hours are eligible to claim $750.
However, these payments will decrease even further once the state or territory reaches the 80 percent fully vaccinated threshold.
In the first week after the jurisdiction reaches 80 per cent fully vaccinated, the payment will be a flat rate of $450 for anyone who has lost more than 8 hours of work.
People who are receiving the Covid-19 Centrelink top up payments will see their support halved from $200 to $100.
This will fall to $320 in the second week after the state reaches 80 percent fully vaccinated. After this period, the payment will be phased out completely.
However, ending the payments altogether without increasing the JobSeeker unemployment payments risks sending recipients into poverty, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has warned.
“Cutting off disaster support will see many of the 1.7 million people currently receiving disaster payments in NSW, ACT and Victoria end up on the grossly inadequate JobSeeker Payment of $45 a day, which is less than half the $750pw Covid Disaster Payment. It will leave others with no income at all, including people on temporary visas who are ineligible for JobSeeker and other income support,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
Dr Cassandra Goldie said many people will be unable to return immediately to paid work following a lockdown as restrictions will still remain on many businesses.
“Snap decisions like this hurt people on lowest incomes. People won’t be able to pay their rent, afford food and cover the cost of other essentials. The mental health consequences are serious,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
NSW is expected to hit the 80 percent threshold around 20th October, while the ACT is expected to hit it around 19th October.
Victoria, which is also experiencing a prolonged lockdown, is expected to hit 70 per cent fully vaccinated around 24th October, and 80 percent on approximately the 6th November.
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