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Aussies on welfare told bushfire amnesty is over

Welfare recipients told bushfire amnesty is over. Source: Getty

Centrelink has told Australian welfare recipients in bushfire-affected areas that the amnesty period is over. 

Volunteer firefighters who were battling blazes and who received a Newstart allowance in exchange for meeting certain job-seeking requirements were earlier told their income support would not be contingent on fulfilling these requirements.

The requirements, which involve going into a Centrelink office to meet with a JobActive provider and prove you are actively seeking employment, will resume again from Monday 20 January.

“PSA: next week, mutual obligations are mandatory again,” tweeted Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union member Jeremy Poxon.

Poxton tweeted a screenshot of a message he received from Centrelink, which read: “From 19/1 it’s business as usual at your MAX office. Pls check you have a future appointment. We look fwd [sic] to seeing you, ready to support you and find you work.”

But some welfare recipients reported their income support had still been suspended, despite the government’s announcement.

“Suspended for about six hours,” one person tweeted. “On same day, got sent a new appointment date and the next month’s batch of job-seeking to fill in. I’m in NE Vic - region severely impacted by fires and smoke - forcing me to mostly stay indoors for health reasons.”

According to the government’s employment site, job seekers that live outside of bushfire affected areas can contact Centrelink for a further exemption of their requirements if they remain affected by the bushfires at the end of the national contingency period. 

Disaster recovery

Some bushfire victims were denied emergency relief payments from the government after Centrelink failed to include the area they live in as an officially bushfire-affected area. 

A Mogo resident told 9 News her property had been destroyed, yet was denied a $1,000 payment from Centrelink.

“We're not in the area according to Centrelink. They're looking at their own map but if you look around here you can tell we're in the thick of it,” Evans said.

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