• People queue for access to a Centrelink Service Centre in Sydney. (AAP)Source: AAP
UPDATED: The Minister for Government Services announces that people looking to apply for new assistance measures at Centrelink can obtain a Customer Reference Number or CRN online via the MyGov portal "as of today."
Keira Jenkins

23 Mar 2020 - 12:29 PM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2020 - 1:37 PM

The Community Development Programme (CDP) has been suspended in the latest measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, announced the decision on Sunday, saying face-to-face services will be cancelled and 'work-for-the-dole' and group activities will also be suspended.

These latest measures aim to limit travel within and between remote communities and support social distancing measures.

"The health and wellbeing of all Australians remains our highest priority as we manage the threat of COVID-19 in remote communities," a statement from Minister Wyatt's office read.

"CDP Providers play an important role in the day to day life of the communities where they operate. Jobseekers will be able to access services on a voluntary basis where it is considered safe to do so."

Job seekers who are taking part in online training and activities will be able to continue to do so on a "voluntary basis with the support of their CDP provider".

Jobseekers will not be penalised for failing to attend CDP activities. Mr Wyatt's statement also said he had 'also put in place arrangements to lift any existing suspensions and penalties for CDP job seekers."

Elsewhere, the online portal to access Government Services - MyGov - has crashed, as people across the country deal with the newly-announced Coronavirus lockdown, which came into effect on Monday.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said the website was working, but "the best option right now is for people to be patient".

"There is unprecedented demand for the service right now, but Australians need to be patient," he told AAP. "Try logging on later today or even tomorrow."

It's not just online services that are congested, with queues of people lining up to apply for the newly announced social welfare benefits on Monday morning stretching out the doors of Centrelink offices.


The rush comes after the Federal Government announced new support measures, such as a doubling of Jobseeker (formerly Newstart) payments, for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement posted to Services Australia's Facebook page encouraged people not to visit Centrelink, or to instead process claims online.


"We’re experiencing very high demand across all services," the statement said.

"We’re getting lots of questions about coronavirus and what we’re doing to support the community.Please consider the health and safety of our customers and staff and do not visit our service centres unless there’s a critical need for you to be there.

"If you’re already getting a payment that is eligible for the Economic Support Payment or the Coronavirus Supplement, you do not need to do anything, you’ll get payment automatically. Please do not call or visit us.

"If you don’t currently get an income support payment and you need help because you’ve lost your job or had your income reduced, please start your claim online.

"If you need to provide proof of identity and you’re in self-isolation or feeling unwell we can do this over the phone – but please defer until later if you can. We urge you not to come into our service centres if you’re unwell.

"We’re working hard to respond here so please understand it will take a little longer than usual. We’re also getting a lot of the same questions, so be sure to read through other posts to see if your question has been answered."

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