- aged 22 years or more but under Age Pension age
- looking for paid work
- prepared to meet the activity test while you are looking for work
- meet an income and assets test
Express Plus mobile apps
Express Plus mobile apps offers you a simple, fast, mobile way to do your Centrelink business on the go using your mobile device.
Single parents can earn more money
From 1 January 2013 you are able to earn more money before your Newstart Allowance payment is affected if you are single and the principal carer for your child. Read more on the income test for Newstart Allowance.
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Newstart Allowance
You need to meet eligibility requirements to claim Newstart Allowance.
Payment rates for Newstart Allowance
The payment rates for Newstart Allowance are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year and are a guide only.
|If you are:||Your maximum fortnightly payment is:|
|single, no children||$501.00|
|single, with a dependent child or children||$542.10|
|single, aged 60 or over, after nine continuous months on payment||$542.10|
|single principal carer granted activity test exemption for either:||$699.90|
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to wait for a period of time before receiving your first income support payment. This is because various waiting periods can be applied to your claim.
Income test, assets tests and working credit
The amount of Newstart Allowance you get depends on both your income and your assets, including liquid assets which are funds available to you or your partner.
As a Newstart Allowance customer, you can earn up to $62 per fortnight before tax, before your payment is affected.
Income above $62 and up to $250 per fortnight reduces your fortnightly payment by 50 cents in the dollar. Income above $250 per fortnight reduces your payment by 60 cents in the dollar.
If you are the single principal carer of a dependent child, your payments will reduce by 40 cents for each dollar of income you earn above $62 per fortnight. Partner income that exceeds the cut-out point reduces your payment by 60 cents in the dollar.
As an applicant for Newstart Allowance, you will be assessed against an assets test. This includes liquid assets, which are any funds that are available to either you or your partner, and includes money owed by your employer.
Working Credit is a way in which you can keep more of your Newstart Allowance payment if you do any part-time or casual work. It also makes it easier for you to get Newstart Allowance back if you have a short-term full-time job.
Residence requirements for Newstart Allowance
To be eligible for Newstart Allowance you must satisfy residence requirements. You must:
- be an Australian resident
- be physically present in Australia on the day you lodge your claim, and
- continue to meet the residence requirements for as long as you get this payment
Newly arrived residents generally have a 104 week waiting period, with some exemptions.
If you are not an Australian resident, but arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport after 26 February 2001 and have lived here continuously for at least 10 years since 26 February 2001, you may qualify for payment of Newstart Allowance for up to six months. If you qualify for payment under this exemption, you will not need to serve the 104 week newly arrived resident’s waiting period.
Other benefits while receiving Newstart Allowance
If you qualify for Newstart Allowance, you may be entitled to other payments and benefits, such as:
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- begin your claim by registering an intent to claim
- submit supporting documentation
- attend your interview
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
Change of circumstances for Newstart Allowance
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example, if:
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- your care arrangements change
- your work or study load changes
- you leave Australia
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days your payment may be affected because:
- you may find yourself in debt
- you may be overpaid benefits, and you will probably have to pay the money back
- you could be charged with fraud if you deliberately do not tell us about changes
- a recovery fee may be imposed if you give us incorrect information about your employment income
You can continue getting Newstart Allowance if you get sick or have an accident and are temporarily unable to work. You will need to get a medical certificate from your doctor that states you are unfit to do at least 8 hours’ work a week.
You will not have to meet the activity test or hand in your fortnightly application form in person while you are unfit for work and have a medical certificate.
How to report your changes
You can report changes to your circumstances using our self service options.
Are you moving to another location?
Use the Moving to an Area of Lower Employment Prospects (MALEP) Test to find out the employment prospects of the area you are moving to. Your payment could be affected if you choose to move to an area with significantly lower employment prospects without a good reason.
Self service options
Our self service options are a quick and effective way to deal with us. You can use self service where it's convenient to you and manage things yourself:
- online - you need to register to use some of the services, then you can do many things where and when it suits you
- on your mobile device - our Express Plus mobile apps are simple, fast and convenient, giving you more choices for dealing with Centrelink
- on the phone - you can self-register for Centrelink Phone Self Service
- using a self service terminal at one of our service centres
Reporting statements for Newstart Allowance
To keep receiving Newstart Allowance, you need to report to us, usually each fortnight, to make sure you are still eligible and getting paid the right amount.
Personal Contact Interviews
You will need to regularly attend Personal Contact Interviews so we can talk with you about your agreed activities and help you with anything that may be impacting on your participation in these activities. These interviews can be either face-to-face in your local service centre or over the phone, depending on your circumstances.
Connections Interviews are a new way the Department of Human Services and Job Services Australia (JSA) providers are supporting job seekers who have trouble meeting participation and activity test requirements.
Owing money while receiving Newstart Allowance
If you owe money to the Australian Government Department of Human Services, you will be sent an 'Account Payable' or a letter telling you why you owe the money, the amount owed, when the amount is due to be paid, and how you can make the payment.
Read more about owing money and how to avoid a debt.
Job Seeker Workshops
You will need to participate in Job Seeker Workshops if you are a job seeker receiving a Centrelink payment with Activity Test requirements.
Advance payment options
You may be eligible to receive part of your Centrelink payment in advance. Accessing an advance payment depends on the type of payment you receive, how long you have been receiving it and the amount that you receive.
Payments paid while outside Australia
There are rules about getting your payment when you leave Australia.
Weekly payment option
You can receive your income support payment weekly, instead of fortnightly in certain circumstances.
Self-service computers and printers are available in your local service centre to help you identify employment opportunities and make contact with service providers who may be able to assist you in your search for work free of charge.
Financial Information Services
A free, confidential service that provides education and information on financial and lifestyle issues to all Australians.
Read more about Financial Information Services.
Social work services
Our social workers can also help you during difficult times by providing confidential counselling, support and information.
Skills for Education and Employment
A program to help develop speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills to improve the chances of getting and keeping a job.
Read more about Skills for Education and Employment.