Frustration as welfare recipients told they have to wait longer for coronavirus supplement

The Federal Government has been accused of giving "confusing" information about the start of the coronavirus supplement.

Mutual obligation requirements for welfare recipients, such as job interviews, have been suspended again until June 1.

Mutual obligation requirements for welfare recipients, such as job interviews, have been suspended again until June 1. Source: AAP

Some welfare recipients who expected to start receiving the coronavirus supplement from Monday have been left "heartbroken" after finding out they need to wait longer.

The Federal Government announced last month an additional $550 a fortnight would be added to welfare payments such as JobSeeker, formerly known as Newstart, "from 27 April".

But Services Australia made a clarification on Monday morning.


"You'll only start receiving this with your fortnightly payment once you've reported income for the period that covers 27 April," the agency said in a Facebook post.

"For example, if you're due to receive your next payment today, the reporting period covers up to 26 April. This means the coronavirus supplement won't be included in this payment cycle. If eligible, we'll pay the supplement with your next fortnightly payment."

This means some individuals expecting to receive the payment on Monday will have to wait at least another 14 days. 

Australian Unemployed Workers Union spokesperson Jeremy Poxon said thousands of Australians could have been affected after already waiting more than a month for the payment to kick in since the 22 March announcement. 

"People who reported last week expecting to receive the boosted supplement today have been incredibly devastated, some people have been heartbroken," he said.

"We were caught completely off guard ... People are very, very confused and very distressed."

Mr Poxon said the Federal Government should have been much clearer in its outreach about the start date.

"People were holding out for today," he said.

A closed food court.
A closed food court. Source: AAP

A spokesperson for Services Australia told SBS News that material was issued, including social media posts, that "made clear the coronavirus supplement payments will flow from 27 April". 

A about the payment says "we'll pay you automatically from 27 April".

While a says "the coronavirus supplement will commence from 27 April".

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 587,686 people have signed up to the JobSeeker unemployment benefit during the pandemic.

The $550 coronavirus supplement effectively doubles the rate of JobSeeker payment for a single adult and will be in place for six months.

Mr Morrison has called the Federal Government's response the "biggest economic lifeline" in Australia's history.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at .

3 min read
Published 27 April 2020 at 5:57pm
By Nick Baker