- aged 22 years or older but under age pension age
- looking for paid work
- prepared to meet the Mutual Obligation Requirements while you are looking for work
- meet an income and assets test
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Newstart Allowance
You may be eligible for Newstart Allowance if you:
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||$519.20|
|single, with a dependent child or children||$561.80|
|single, aged 60 or over, after 9 continuous months on payment||$561.80|
|single principal carer granted an exemption from Mutual Obligation Requirements for either:||$725.40|
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to wait for a period of time before receiving your first income support payment.
Income test, assets test and Working Credit
The amount of Newstart Allowance you get depends on both your income and your assets, including liquid assets.
As a Newstart Allowance customer, you can earn up to $102 per fortnight before tax before your payment is affected.
Income above $102 and up to $252 per fortnight reduces your fortnightly payment by 50 cents in the dollar. Income above $252 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 $102 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, including money owed to you by your employer, that are readily available to either you or your partner.
Working Credit is a way you can keep more of your Newstart Allowance payment if you do 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 need to 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 a non-protected Special Category Visa holder, you may be able to access a once only payment of either:
At the time of making a claim you must have been living in Australia continuously for at least 10 years. Time spent in Australia prior to 27 February 2001 cannot count towards these 10 years. If you are eligible, payment can be made for a maximum continuous period of up to 6 months.
Other benefits while receiving Newstart Allowance
If you qualify for Newstart Allowance, you may be entitled to other services, payments and benefits, such as:
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start your claim.
Once you have read about eligibility, the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- begin your claim
- provide your supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- We will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
Mutual Obligation Requirements
Mutual Obligation Requirements are activities you need to do to continue to get your income support payment and increase your chances of finding work.
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, or
- you leave Australia
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days, your payment may be affected. You may be overpaid and you may have to pay the money back.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud. 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 work at least 8 hours a week.
You will not have to meet the Mutual Obligation Requirements while you are unfit for work and have a medical certificate.
You may need to report this on a regular basis.
How to report your changes
You can report changes to your circumstances using our self service options.
If you are moving
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.
You can do most of your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service. Options include Express Plus mobile apps, online services or phone self service.
Owing money while receiving Newstart Allowance
If you owe us money, you will be sent an Account Payable 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
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.
Newstart Allowance while travelling outside Australia
If you leave Australia to live in another country, your payments will stop on departure.
If you leave Australia temporarily, you will only be paid outside Australia for a negotiated period of up to 6 weeks for the following approved reasons:
- an acute family crisis, for example, to visit an immediate family member who is critically ill
- humanitarian reasons, for example, to adopt a child or attend custody proceedings, or
- eligible medical treatment that is not available in Australia
If you are attending a training camp with the Defence Force Reserves, you can be paid for the duration of the training.
If you have been granted Newstart Allowance under a residence exemption available to certain New Zealand citizens and your payment stops while you are outside Australia, you cannot be re-granted payment under this exemption on your return.
Advising us of your travel outside Australia
You should tell us if you are leaving Australia and:
- you plan to live in another country
- you are travelling on a cruise ship
- you are leaving due to an acute family crisis, for medical treatment overseas, for humanitarian reasons or to attend a training camp with the Defence Force Reserves
- you are receiving payment under a residence exemption available to New Zealand citizens
- your dependent child will be away for longer than 6 weeks, or
- we have told you that you are receiving your payments under Section 24 provisions
Otherwise you do not need to tell us if you are leaving Australia. We will be advised automatically by Australia's immigration department when you leave Australia and when you return.
Read more about payments while outside Australia.
Weekly payment option
You can receive your income support payment weekly, instead of fortnightly, in certain circumstances.
How much you earn affects your payment. We need to know what you have earned each fortnight so you are paid the right amount.
What to do if your account is overdrawn
There is support available to help you manage your money if you have overdrawn your bank, building society or credit union account.
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 assist you in your search for work.
Financial Information Services
A free, confidential service that provides education and information on financial and lifestyle issues to all Australians.
Social work services
Our social workers can 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 you getting and keeping a job.
Read more about Skills for Education and Employment
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.
- Managing your money helps you in control of your money so you can achieve your goals, manage on a low income and know where to go for urgent money help
- Borrowing & credit provides information on loans, credit cards, other types of credit such as interest free deals and rent to buy, information about credit reports and credit repair and what to do if you are having trouble with debt
- Superannuation & retirement helps you get the most out of your super
- Investing guides you through the basic principles of investing and how to find a good financial adviser
- Scams explains how scams work, how to identify different scams and what to do if you have been scammed
- Life events & you provides information tailored to your situation including under 25s, families and over 55s
- Tools & resources provides handy tools, calculators, publications, audio files and quizzes including a budget planner, retirement planner and mobile apps