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Urgent reminder to Victorians to claim $450 COVID cash, ‘no questions asked’

·3-min read
Person receiving COVID-19 nasal swab, pedestrians in Melbourne.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged Victorians to get tested. (Images: Getty).

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has reminded residents they can claim $450 payments if they are required to isolate while waiting for a COVID-19 test result, as the state records 29 new cases of community transmission.

Victoria is now in its sixth lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with this last lockdown commencing just one week after the fifth lockdown ended.

“You've got to go and get tested today if you've got symptoms you're listening and watching us now,” Andrews said.

The $450 testing payments are available to people who are at risk of losing income while they isolate following a COVID-19 test. Andrews said that eligible people will receive the money “no questions asked”, provided they come forward for testing and apply for the cash.

People who test positive, are a close contact required to quarantine for 14 days or care for someone in either category are also eligible for the $1,500 Pandemic Leave Payment, Andrews added.

“We will push the payments out and have done so for many thousands of people. It's very important that we support people to do the right thing, and that no-one has to make the choice between protecting the community and feeding their family,” Andrews said.

“Those payments are very important and I would commend them to anybody who is eligible.

“It's a pretty easy process to receive those payments because the value of you staying at home far exceeds $450 or $1,500. In fact, it's worth everything to everyone. It's how we get the place open up again.”

Victoria introduced $300 testing payments during the state’s protracted lockdown in July 2020, before increasing the payments to $450.

“We think $450 is a fair payment, particularly for people for whom their employment circumstances might lead them to make the choice to not get tested at all or perhaps, get tested but then go to work while they were waiting for the results of those tests,” Andrews said at the time.

NSW residents unable to claim similar COVID-19 payment

Similar payments are available for people in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory and for Centrelink recipients in severe financial hardship.

Australians who have lost eight hours of work in one week due to the lockdowns are also eligible to claim $450, while those who have lost 20 or more can claim $750.

However, New South Wales has not introduced a dedicated payment for people who lose income while waiting for a COVID-19 test.

“The NSW response seems to be much more motivated by the expectation that people will do the right thing, rather than explicitly laying down about the right thing to do,” RMIT University senior behavioural economics lecturer Meg Elkins told Yahoo Finance.

She said offering the payments also serves a dual purpose of allowing state governments to more closely monitor whether people are following the post-test isolation requirements.

“[It’s] probably as much for the government as it is for society,” she said.

“People are held in NSW with a different perception that people will do the right thing, you'll make a good choice, you'll make the right choice.”

Introducing a testing payment could help make it clear that there is a strong expectation that people with symptoms must get tested and isolate, and the government was working to ensure that people would be supported to do that.

However, if NSW were to introduce a similar payment, it would need to ensure it was easy to apply for and receive, Elkins added. Failure to provide a frictionless experience would result in low uptake.

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