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If you are unemployed and receiving a payment from Centrelink, there are things you need to do to keep getting your payments and to improve your chances of finding work.

Due to COVID-19 and in some areas of Australia, the bushfire crisis, mutual obligations for people on Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment Single and Special Benefits payments, have been suspended for most of 2020.  

From 4 August there are more requirements for people on these payments. If it is easier to talk to someone about this please call us: 1800 029 904, our Information Officers are happy to help.

What do I need to do?

In Victoria

For now, if you live in Victoria and receive any of the payments listed above, you will need to attend at least one appointment with your employment services provider. Payment suspensions and penalties do not currently apply though if you do fail to meet your mutual obligations. To limit the spread of COVID-19, many of these appointments can be made online or over the phone.

Your employment services or disability employment services (DES) provider will contact you to make an appointment.

You still need to tell Services Australia about changes to your circumstances and report your income.

You should attend job interviews or accept suitable work if offered to you. Many businesses are opening back up after the lockdown period and may be looking to hire new employees.

There are no penalties if you live in Victoria. 

Everywhere else

From 28 September 2020, mutual obligation requirements are compulsory.

This means if you’re a job seeker you must:

  • do all the tasks and activities listed in your Job Plan
  • go to appointments with your employment services provider
  • complete and report your job searches
  • accept any offer of suitable paid work.

If you don’t meet your mutual obligation requirements, suspensions, demerits or financial penalties may apply.

You also still need to:

You may have different mutual obligation requirements if you are a principal carer or 55 or older. 

When do penalties apply?

From 28 September, your payment may be cancelled if you refuse suitable work without a reasonable excuse. This includes:

  • accepting a suitable job offer
  • starting a job you’ve accepted.

If your payment is cancelled for refusing suitable work, you won’t be able to get a payment again for at least 4 weeks.

If you live in Victoria, penalties don't apply yet. 

What can my provider do?

Your employment or disability employment service provider can help you with training, upskilling and employment. Your provider will help you create a Job Plan which includes searching for jobs and other approved activities such as training, upskilling, resume building, interview, and self-presentation skills.

For more information, contact your employment services provider or search our online directory for services in your area.

We know that the JobKeeper Payment and Coronavirus Supplement, which has nearly doubled unemployment benefits during the COVID crisis, are both due to end in September.

For more information, go to Services Australia - Mutual obligation requirements.

Read more: What you need to know about Centrelink and COVID-19.



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