Welfare recipients will continue receiving payments if they’re under isolation because of the coronavirus, government officials say.
Department of Social Services secretary Kathryn Campbell was recently contacted by a Newstart recipient under isolation for the advised 14 days, who couldn’t do the activities required to receive the unemployment support.
Ms Campbell on Thursday confirmed the department would ensure the Newstart recipient continued receiving payments.
People won’t need a medical certificate for the first 14 days, but would need one to be exempt from activities if they’re in isolation for longer, she said.
“Because we would expect that those people would need to have engaged with a medical practitioner at that point, should they still be ill or require further isolation,” Ms Campbell told a Senate estimates committee.
The department is preparing for the coronavirus to affect more welfare recipients, and is currently considering options on how to best communicate with the public.
Ms Campbell couldn’t say whether the department would suspend the liquid assets test for people with coronavirus or under isolation, to make it easier for people to receive support.
“We are providing advice to government. These will be government decisions,” she said.
Senior department official Nathan Williamson said people could apply to have the liquid assets test waived if they were under financial hardship.
The government wants to make Australians wait longer before applying for some welfare payments, if they have $18,000 or more in liquid assets.
Currently the maximum waiting period applies to people with $11,500 or more of liquid assets, such as cash.