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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, were suspended for most of 2020.  

The Government announced new measures from 1st April 2021

There will be changes to the Mutual Obligation Scheme:

  • job seekers will be required to search for a minimum of 15 jobs a month from early April, increasing to 20 jobs per month from 1 July; 
  • an employer reporting line will be established to refer Jobseekers who are not genuine about their job search or decline the offer of a job;
  • some job seekers will be required to participate in work for the dole after six months;
  • job seekers can choose to participate in an approved intensive short course instead of participating in work for the dole;
  • job seekers return to compulsory face-to-face services with Jobactive providers; 
  • increased auditing of job applications to ensure job seekers are making genuine applications.


What do I need to do?

From 4 August there are more requirements for people on these payments. 

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.



Phone: 132 850
Web: servicesaustralia.gov.au


Web: jobsearch.gov.au

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