If you're an independent young person, studying or working, you might be worried about COVID-19.
If you need assistance or support, ReachOut.com has established a student hub for those stressed about their studies.
With businesses closing and casual work becoming precarious, I wanted to give some information about what is available. This information is current as of the 29th of May.
If you haven't previously accessed Centrelink supports, please see the Services Australia website.
Income support for people older than 21 and under the Age Pension age
The federal government 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. More information about the JobSeeker Payment is available at the Services Australia website.
Income support for people 21 and younger
The federal government also provides financial help if you’re 21 or younger and looking for work, or temporarily unable to work. See more about Youth Allowance for Job Seekers online.
Coronavirus Supplement for Students
From 27 April, around 230,000 full-time students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY will now receive the $550 per fortnight Coronavirus Supplement.
Many students work part-time or casual in retail and hospitality. For students who lose their job or have their hours significantly reduced, their budgets will be impacted in the same way as other working age social security recipients. This expansion of coverage, subsequent to Labor and sector advocacy, will provide security to many who would otherwise be severely impacted.
If your employer has stood you down due to wage concerns, they may be eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidies, were they to re-hire you.
If you are/were permanent full-or-part time, or long-term casually employed, and on the employer's books as of 1st of March 2020, and the employer has seen turnover fall by 30%, then your employer may be eligible for $1,500 a fortnight in wage subsidies. This money will assist businesses to keep staff employed through the crisis, so that on the other side, they can resume business-as-usual.
For more information on JobKeeper, please direct your employer here.
More can be done
Unfortunately, the federal government has not agreed to bring forward the start dates for proposed payments. Businesses had to wait until the start of May to receive the JobKeeper subsidies for the month of April, the $550 Coronavirus Supplement did not start being paid until 27 April. The second economic stimulus payment of $750 will not be received until after 10 July.
International students, too, are left out of both the Jobseeker direct supports and, in many cases, the JobKeeper wage subsidies, due to period of employment. In both cases, Minister Ruston and Treasurer Frydenberg have the ability to write inclusions into these supports provisions and extend the programs to international students.
Eviction moratorium and rental support
Labor has welcomed the National Cabinet’s decision to suspend the commencement of eviction proceedings over the next six months for tenants in financial distress due to the impact of Coronavirus.
We have consistently said that no one should lose their home, whether they own it or rent it, because of the virus. This will help.
Tenants and lessors should work together to come to a mutually agreeable plan for rental payment. The ACT Government will work with tenants, lessors and the Conflict Resolution Service to ensure renters remain housed.
The ACT government has created fact sheets regarding the following:
- What tenants need to do to seek help from their landlords or real estate agents;
- support available to landlords to facilitate a mutual agreement with a tenant if the tenant’s income has been reduced; and
- real estate agents’ responsibilities to help facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants.
Tax and rates relief
Already, the ACT Government has introduced important measures that will provide households with relief:
- Providing a land tax and rates rebate to residential landlords who reduce rents by at least 25 per cent
- Expanding access to residential general rates hardship deferral
- Delaying the issuing of general rates notices
- Creating a hardship fund to assist electricity retailers to enhance hardship assistance to customers
- Freezing the Utilities Network Facilities Tax at its 2019-20 level
It is important that the federal government also consider measures to ensure that the electricity, the gas and the phone are not disconnected for people financially impacted by the Coronavirus. States and territories need federal support to ensure the power doesn't go out on vulnerable Australians.