Victorians who are sick but unable to access sick leave will now be eligible for an additional $300 hardship payment while they wait for results, as the state grapples with a growing reluctance to stay at home.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the payment on Thursday after flagging the move earlier in the week. This payment is in addition to the $1,500 hardship payments available to Victorians diagnosed with coronavirus who do not have access to sick leave.
He said accessing the $300 support payment should be “simple and easy”.
“It essentially requires you, for instance, to provide a payslip. If you’re in a position where you’re not able to do that, then a statutory declaration to that effect, which will be done as simply and as easily as possible,” Andrews said.
A statutory declaration is a written statement where a person swears that what they are saying is true in the presence of an authorised witness.
“Paperwork is always important but it’s about making sure that we get those payments out as fast as possible. What we’ve got at the moment is people who feel unwell, but don’t want to go and get tested quick enough because they’re fearful of not being able to go to work.”
Andrews on Wednesday said a major issue was sick Victorians going to work as they waited on results. The $1,500 support payment only kicks in once a person has been diagnosed, leaving workers without sick leave in a vulnerable position.
“This $300 payment will go a long way to supporting those families, and having them make much better choices. If you’re sick, get tested quick and then isolate until you get a test result,” Andrews said.
“If you were then a positive case, then you would be eligible because those same insecure work circumstances apply, you would be eligible for a further $1,500 dollar payment, and we would make sure that we made those payments are paid as quickly as possible
“This is about trying to make being an earner doesn’t compromise or see you making bad choices for every other family across our state so this ensures that people are no worse off.”
Andrews’ announcement comes after a poll conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) found 80 per cent of Australians supported paid pandemic leave.
The ACTU has been lobbying for paid sick leave for all workers, regardless of employment status.
“Recent polls have shown up to 44 per cent of Australian workers have no paid leave because they are in insecure work. Many more have depleted their leave entitlements during the first six months of this pandemic. This is a massive hole in our defences against the pandemic which must be closed,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said.
“It is now abundantly clear that the virus is being spread in workplaces where people are in insecure casual work and have no paid leave.”
To access the payment, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.