Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: Do you know you can receive income support in Australia?

Source: AAP

Unemployed? Jobseekers can access the Australian government’s social security system when faced with financial hardship.

So, while you’re looking for work, here are some options to assist you.

What’s the Newstart Allowance?

Employment advertising is seen in a newspaper in Canberra, Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

It’s the main unemployment benefit which caters for people of working age.However, there are some conditions. For example you have to prove that you are looking for full time work, have to attend appointments with your job agency and you also need to meet other mutual obligation requirements.

How long do I have to wait?

Clock - waiting for a visa

The waiting period can vary between 2 weeks to 2 months after you have submitted your claim for your Newstart Allowance. It usually depends on Centrelink.

How much can I earn?

Money wallet

You can be working and also be on Newstart. For example, if you are working one shift a week you can still receive a ‘partial payment’. You can earn up to $104 before tax each fortnight. Your payment is reduced by 50 cents per dollar if you earn between $104 to $254 per fortnight. The reduction rate is $75 plus 60 cents for each dollar over $254. 

Who is eligible?

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Every Australian resident who have lived in the country for at least two-years are eligible. However they need to meet the income and assets tests as well as the Mutual Obligation Requirements.

What’s 'Work for the Dole'?

Construction workers

It’s a program designed to upskill jobseekers, provide work experiences and enable them to contribute to the community. You need to participate in a Work for the Dole program for six months of the year to claim your payments under the Mutual Obligation Requirements.

What happens if I fail to meet the Mutual Obligation Requirements?

Job search

Your Newstart can be suspended, but once you re-engage with your job agency, you can get back on the payment again.

Other types of unemployment benefit include Youth Allowance for full-time jobseekers between age 16 to 21 and the Disability Support Pension for people between 16 years of age to pension age who are unable to work due to a physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition.

For more information on income support, visit the Department of Human Services website. 

Language support in your language


If you need language support, you can ring the department’s Multilingual Phone Service on 131 202 between 8am to 5pm during the week to speak with a bilingual service officer.