1. Newstart Allowance Eligibility
The Newstart Allowance is intended for people 21 years or older who are able to work. It is normally paid if you are
- 21 years or older
- an Australian resident
- without a permanent full-time job
- actively seeking suitable employment
- not involved in industrial action
- not generally a full-time student.
The Newstart Allowance is an ‘activity-tested’ payment. In other words, you have to show that you are actively seeking suitable full-time work. Also, you must be willing to accept any reasonable job offer, or any training that could improve your employment prospects.
To meet the activity test requirements, you must usually
- lodge your Centrelink forms each fortnight, along with details of your efforts to find a job
- complete a jobseeker diary
- enter into a Preparing for Work Agreement if asked, and comply with the terms of the agreement
- attend any Centrelink interviews, work capacity assessments and appointments with Job Network providers when asked.
If you do not meet your obligations and you do not have a ‘reasonable excuse’, you may be penalised. This could result in your Centrelink payment being suspended, or your payment not being paid for eight weeks at a time in some circumstances.
2. Newstart Allowance (Incapacitated)
If you are unemployed and you become temporarily incapacitated for work, or you lose your job due to a temporary incapacity or illness, you may be temporarily exempted from the activity test requirements. If this happens, you will be paid a Newstart Allowance (Incapacitated). Note that you will not be paid a Newstart Allowance (Incapacitated) if you are capable of undertaking training or rehabilitation, or if you are still able to undertake some job seeking activities.
The rate of payment for a Newstart Allowance (Incapacitated) is the same as the payment for normal Newstart Allowance. However, because you have been granted a temporary exemption from the activity test, you will not have to look for work, enter into a Preparing for Work Agreement, or meet the terms of an existing Preparing for Work Agreement.
An activity test exemption will usually be made after you have undergone a work capacity assessment. The assessment will determine whether you are able to meet some of the requirements of the activity test, despite your disability, or whether you should be exempt from all the requirements.
3. When can I be granted an activity test exemption to work?
You may be granted an activity test exemption if your work capacity assessment determines that you are not able to look for work or work for more than eight hours per week now or within the next 24 months.
You will be refused an activity test exemption if your work capacity assessment determines that you are able to meet the activity test or you have a ‘partial capacity to work’.
What is a ‘partial capacity to work?’
Centrelink may decide that you have a partial capacity to work if your work capacity assessment determines that your illness or disability would prevent you from working for 30 hours per week without ongoing support within the next 2 years. They will also consider whether undertaking a ‘training activity’ would probably enable you to work for 30 hours per week within the next 2 years. Training activities may include education, pre-vocational training, vocational training, vocational rehabilitation and work-related training (including on-the-job training).
While Centrelink will not grant you an activity test exemption if you have a ‘partial capacity to work’, they are obliged to consider your needs when determining your activity test requirements.
4. What if a temporary incapacity activity test exemption is refused?
If you are refused an activity test exemption, you may be given a modified agreement that requires you to meet some but not all the activity test requirements. For example, you may be required to apply for fewer jobs per fortnight or to meet with your Job Network provider less frequently or both. You may also be offered special assistance, or you may be able to suggest alternative activities, such as voluntary work.
You can appeal a decision to refuse an activity test exemption.
5. Youth Allowance
The Youth Allowance is intended for young people, including
- 15 year olds who are independent of their parents
- people aged under 18 who have agreed to enter into a Preparing for Work Agreement
- full-time students aged 16–24
- full-time students aged 25 or more who were receiving Youth Allowance before they turned 25 and are still undertaking the same course
- other young people aged under 21 who are looking for full-time work, combining part-time job searching and part-time study, doing other approved activities (including voluntary work), or who are ill.
6. Youth Allowance (Incapacitated)
The Youth Allowance (Incapacitated) is intended for people who would normally be eligible for a Youth Allowance but have been granted an exemption from the activity test. You may be eligible for a Youth Allowance (Incapacitated) if you are a young person who is unable to undertake study or training due to temporary incapacity or illness.
The details of the Youth Allowance (Incapacitated) are similar to those of the Newstart Allowance (Incapacitated), except that it is intended for young people. Check the Newstart Allowance (Incapacitated) section [above] for more information.
Next Section: Sickness Allowance