Centrelink logo

The Government introduced several payments and supports to support Australians who are financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis but what does it all mean for you? We include the new Temporary COVID disaster payment.

We break down the new payments and how people can access them and why.

On this page

Test and Isolate NSW
Emergency Disaster Payment Increase 
Temporary COVID Disaster Payment
Payment Finder
Disaster Recovery - NSW Floods
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
JobKeeper Payment
Jobseeker Payment
Economic Support Payment
Coronavirus Supplement
Contact Services Australia
Other payments


Test and Isolate Payment NSW

The NSW Government today announced an additional COVID-19 financial support to assist workers and vulnerable communities in metropolitan, regional and rural NSW.

The additional funding will see the COVID-19 emergency hardship payments, test and isolate support payments and community empowerment grants expanded across all of NSW.

The NSW Government’s additional $287.5 million funding commitment includes;

  • The emergency hardship, one-off payment of $400 administered by the Red Cross which has been expanded to temporary visa/no visa holders in NSW who are facing severe financial hardship and are not eligible for other government income. To apply visit the Red Cross website.
  • The test and isolate payment of $320 which has now been expanded state-wide. It is available for eligible workers aged 17 and over, who have symptoms of COVID-19, to get tested and isolate until a negative result is returned. The payment is available to NSW workers who do not have sick, carer's or pandemic leave. To apply visit the https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-test-and-isolate-support-payment ServiceNSW website.
  • Community supports grants which have been expanded across NSW to help organisations deliver emergency food relief, promote vaccination and testing services, and provide culturally appropriate support and care to diverse communities.

If you’re in a COVID-19 hotspot, lockdown or period of restricted movement

On 8 July 2021 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that The $10,000 liquid assets test currently applied to $325 and $500 payments will be waived for people heading into the third week of lockdown

The mutual obligation waiver is also extended to those in the third week of lockdown.

If you’re impacted by COVID-19, the payment you may be able to get depends on your situation. The rules are different for each payment.

You may be able to get the COVID-19 Disaster Payment if all of these apply:

  • you’re in a Commonwealth declared COVID-19 hotspot
  • you’re subject to a restricted movement order or lockdown lasting more than 7 days

  • you can’t attend work and lost income because of the restricted movement order or lockdown
  • you aren’t getting an income support paymentPandemic Leave Disaster Payment, or a state-based pandemic payment.

The Department of Health website lists the current hotspots.

This is a lump sum payment to help workers unable to earn income due to a COVID-19 state public health order. This may involve a lockdown, hotspot or movement restrictions.

How much you can get will depend on your location and your individual circumstances.

Check if you can get the payment if you’re in any of these areas:

Parts of Sydney

You can claim up to 2 payments of COVID-19 Disaster Payment for the period Thursday 1 to Friday 9 July 2021. This is if you meet the eligibility criteria between 1 to 7 July 2021 and 8 to 9 July 2021.

You can apply for a payment from:

  • 1 July 2021 for the period 1 to 7 July 2021
  • 8 July 2021 for the period 8 to 9 July 2021.

You’ll need to submit separate claims for the 2 payments.

This payment is for eligible people who live or work in one of the following Local Government Areas (LGAs):

  • Bayside
  • City of Sydney
  • Canada Bay
  • Inner West
  • Randwick
  • Waverley
  • Woollahra.

Greater Sydney

The relevant period of lockdown for Greater Sydney is Sunday 4 to Friday 9 July 2021. You can claim COVID-19 Disaster Payment for this period from 4 July 2021. This payment is for eligible people who live or work in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast or Wollongong.

You can only claim once per relevant period.

You can claim payments for parts of Sydney or Greater Sydney, not both. If you think you’re eligible for both, you need to decide the relevant claiming period that is best for you.

If you live in NSW

We’re temporarily pausing mutual obligation requirements from 25 June 2021 to 13 July 2021.

This temporary pause applies if you live in one of the following Local Government Areas (LGAs):

  • City of Sydney
  • Waverley
  • Randwick
  • Canada Bay
  • Inner West
  • Bayside
  • Woollahra

This temporary pause also includes Greater Sydney and all of the following LGAs from 27 June 2021 to 13 July 2021:

  • Blue Mountains
  • Central Coast
  • Wollongong
  • Shellharbour.

During this period, no payment suspensions or financial penalties will apply if you don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements.

You should continue to check when your requirements are due after the temporary pause of mutual obligation requirements end. If you’re unable to meet your job search requirements after the temporary pause ends, you need to call either:

If you don’t live in one of these LGAs and don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements, payment suspensions or financial penalties may apply.

You can find more information about:


Emergency Disaster Payment Increase

On 13th July 2021, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an increase to the emergency disaster payment from $325 to $375 for people who have lost up to 20 hours of work, and from $500 to $600 for people who have lost more than 20 hours work due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.

Mr Morrison also announced a jointly funded payment of between $1,500 and $10,000 a week to businesses that could demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

The payment will be contingent on companies maintaining their current staffing levels and will be paid to a maximum of 40 per cent of a business's payroll. Individuals in the first 4 LGAs are eligible to make a claim from Friday, at which point it will become recurring for the "extent of the lockdown".

Temporary COVID Disaster Payment

On 3 June 2021 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a national framework for circumstances where there are lockdowns imposed by state, public or health orders in areas that are defined as a Commonwealth hotspot by the Chief Medical Officer.

The arrangements will provide support for periods of time where the lockdown has been greater than 7 days. So the first seven days, they are matters entirely for state and territory governments, as they choose to provide support. The Commonwealth defines a hotspot as " 3 cases per day, averaged over 3 days." 

The payment will be 

$500 for people who normally work more than 20 hours per week.
It will be $325 for those who work less. 

To be eligible 

  • Australian residents and permitted to work in Australia.
  • The person has to reside or work in a Commonwealth defined hot spot and must be unable to attend work due to the COVID restrictions. This also applies to people designated as close contacts.
  • The person must not be receiving an income support payment or pandemic payment.
  • The person has to self-declare what they normally would have worked.

Where a Commonwealth hot spot is no longer applied, then the payment ceases.

You can claim this payment via myGov from Tuesday 8 June 2021. More information will be available soon.

Visit Centrelink for more information.

Payment Finder

Services Australia used to be called Centrelink and provides Government financial support to Australians who need it. You can answer a few questions on the Services Australia website to find out which payments you may be eligible for. The Payment Finder is an online tool that helps you see what services and payments you may be able to get. 

The results it gives you are indicative only and do not guarantee you will get these payments. You still need to apply. 

The service does not take into account all of your circumstances and should be used as a guide only.

If you do not know which payments may apply to your situation, go to Payment Finder


Disaster Recovery - NSW Floods

Disaster Recovery Payment

A one-off payment of $1000 for adults and $400 for children directly impacted by the March 2021 floods in NSW. 

Go to Disaster Recovery Payment to apply or find out more. 

Disaster Recovery Allowance

Ongoing support for up to 13 weeks if you can show you lost income as a direct result of the floods in New South Wales in March 2021.

Go to Disaster Recovery Allowance to apply or find out more. 

You have until 20 September 2021 to make a claim. 

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is a $1500 lump sum payment to help people living in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia who are required to self-isolate or quarantine for 14 days due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or close contact with a confirmed case. The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is for people who can't earn an income because they must self-isolate or quarantine.

This payment replaced the Victorian Government’s $1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment in Victoria.

For more information go to Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

JobKeeper Payment

JobKeeper stopped on March 28 2021. The JobKeeper payment had been helping people keep their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.

For more information, go to JobKeeper for businesses impacted by COVID-19

JobSeeker Payment

The Job Seeker Payment replaces the Newstart Allowance. It is for people who are looking for or "seeking" work. Some older people might call this payment "the dole". It includes some recipients with disabilities (but only those who do not receive a Disability Support Pension) and parenting responsibilities that stop them from looking for full-time work.

It is different from the JobKeeper Payment. It provides financial help if you’re between 22 and Age Pension age and looking for work. It’s also for when you’re sick or injured and can’t do your usual work or study for a short time. How much you get will depend on your circumstances.

If you receive the JobSeeker payment, there are Mutual Obligations you will be required to make, like looking for work. 

This payment was being supplemented by the $150 Coronavirus Supplement. The Coronavirus supplement finishes on March 31, 2021. 

For more information, or to make a claim online go to JobSeeker Payment.


Read more: JobKeeper and JobSeeker - What has changed?


Economic Support Payment

You don’t need to do a thing to claim the $250 payment from the Government’s Economic support package. If you are eligible, it will be automatically processed and sent to your account registered with Services Australia (Centrelink). This payment is in addition to ongoing income support payments as listed below. 

Who gets the $250 Economic Support Payments?

Generally, you won’t get the Economic Support Payment if you get $1 or more of the Coronavirus Supplement.

You’ll get the payment if you get one of the following:

  • Age Pension
  • Carer Allowance
  • Carer Payment
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Double Orphan Pension
  • Family Tax Benefit
  • Pensioner Concession Card

You need to get an eligible payment or have an eligible card on:

  • 27 November 2020 to get the December 2020 payment
  • 26 February 2021 to get the March 2021 payment.

If you claim Family Tax Benefit for 2020-21 as a lump sum, you’ll get the payment with your lump sum. This will be after you've claimed and confirmed your income for the 2020-21 financial year.


How many payments are there?

The last Economic Support Payment was in March 2021. You should have already received yours by now. 

For more information, go to Economic Support Payment.

Coronavirus Supplement

The Coronavirus supplement ended on March 31. The Coronavirus supplement is payable to people on a number of different payments from Centrelink, including Jobseekers, Youth Allowance, Farm Household, Parenting payment recipients and others.

The Coronavirus Supplement will be extended for JobSeeker recipients at a rate of $150 per fortnight from 1 January 2021 through to 31 March 2021 on top of their base rate of payment and other supplements they are eligible for. This is $400 less than the initial supplement.

It did not apply to Disability Support Pensioners. We think it should have and you can read our joint statement about that here.

For more information, go to Coronavirus supplement.

If you have questions, you can call Centrelink or check their website for more information.

Contact Services Australia

Over the phone

Our advice is to call early, and if you can’t get through on that hotline, to call another line (that may be less busy, like ABSTUDY) and ask to be transferred to the right area once you are through to someone.

Be prepared for a long wait. Centrelink have said that they are experiencing high call volumes and long wait times, and waiting on hold for Centrelink is nothing new. So, make yourself a cuppa, grab a book or a magazine to read and if you can, put your phone on speakerphone while you are waiting on hold.

You can find Service Australia's/Centrelink’s full list of contact numbers here.

Online

Many services, including making claims and verifying your identity can now be done online. This reduces the risk of physical or face to face contact and spreading of Coronavirus COVID-19.

Extensive work has been done to address the shortcomings the online system experienced when it was inundated with user access requests earlier in the year. The website should perform normally, however, if you do experience slowness loading or a complete failure to load pages, try again at different times throughout the day and try to avoid “peak” times like the middle of the day and late afternoon.

Go to Services Australia - Centrelink to access online services. You will need a myGov account to sign in. 

In-person

Centrelink is limiting the number of people who can be in a Centrelink/Services Australia office at once and strict social distancing rules apply and in some cases, your local office may even be closed.

They have also implemented more flexible processes so that more things can be done over the phone and online to reduce the number of people attending Centrelink in a face to face situation to further slow the spread of COVID-19.

Visit Services Australia – Centrelink for more information.

Other payments

DSP or Jobseeker – which is right for me?
Pros and Cons: Disability Support Pension vs. Aged Pension
Aged pensioners eligible for $250 travel card from Service NSW
Disability Support Pension
Rental Assistance

Return to Money Matters


IDEAS does information so you can do life.