Jobseekers’ obligations will change, some payments will increase and medicines will be cheaper when changes to Australia’s welfare system kick in on July 1.
Australians on unemployment benefits will no longer need to apply for 20 jobs a month when the current jobseeker obligation scheme is replaced by a new “points-based activation system” (PBAS) from July 4.
Under the current scheme, people had to apply for the 20 jobs under their “mutual obligation requirements” to receive their Centrelink welfare payments each month.
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PBAS will instead require participants to accumulate points from job-seeking activities – with a 100-point target each month.
Different job-seeking activities will have different point values.
There will still be a job application element, with jobseekers needing to apply for at least five jobs a month – which will be worth a minimum 25 points.
They can also acquire points through activities such as job interviews, doing paid work, study and training, or participating in an activity.
“Participants will have flexibility and choice in deciding what tasks and activities they complete to earn points,” a Department of Education, Skills and Employment spokesperson said.
“Each task and activity has a points value, with more intensive activities attracting more points.
“The values are based on the level of engagement and commitment required to complete the task or activity and the strength of the link to employment.”
The department says activities can be tailored to fit a person’s personal circumstances and the labour market conditions in their area.
“A participant’s points target will be tailored to recognise a participant’s personal circumstances and/or local market conditions,” the spokesperson said.
The department says it is alleviating the difficulty of the change by individually contacting participants with advice, while vulnerable people are being referred to an employment services provider.
Also from July 1, more than 1.4 million Australian families will benefit from an increase to Centrelink payments.
The federal government has announced increases to the Family Tax Benefit (Part A and B) to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Families with a child younger than 13 will receive up to $204.40 more under the Family Tax Benefit Part A over 2022-23.
Payments will increase by a maximum of $255.50 for families with a child 13 years and older.
Families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part B, whose youngest child is younger than 5, will receive an increase of as much as $164.25 per year.
Families on Family Tax Benefit Part B with a youngest child aged 5-18 will receive up to $116.80 more per year.
The changes are expected to affect more than 1.4 million families, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said.
“The indexation process complements the levers we are pulling across portfolios to help address the rising cost of living,” she said.
The amount of income or assets an Age Pension, Disability Support Pension or Carer Payment recipient can have before their payment is affected will increase, it was also announced.
“Social security and family payments have a built-in safeguard where they are automatically indexed at regular intervals to help them maintain purchasing power,” Rishworth said.
Those who receive other family payments, such as Multiple Birth Allowance and Newborn Supplement, will also receive an increase.
Pharmaceutical and loan benefits
From July 1, there will be reductions to the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) Safety Net thresholds.
Concession card holders will get free medicines after they spend $244.80, down from $326.40 previously.
Non-concessional patients’ threshold will be lowered from $1542.10 to $1,457.10.
There will also be changes to the Home Equity Access Scheme, a program giving older Australians a non-taxable fortnightly loan to supplement their retirement income.
From July 1, those partaking in the scheme will be able to get an advance payment of the loan “in addition to or instead of your fortnightly loan payments”, Services Australia says.
There will also be the introduction of a “new no negative equity guarantee” available for all loan recipients.
“This means you won’t repay more than the equity in the property when you repay the loan,” Services Australia said.