"With Australia’s official COVID-19 infection numbers topping 100,000 a day,
the federal government has slashed its last remaining pandemic support payment.
The decision is ill-timed, irresponsible and heartless. It is stripping away
support for those most affected by the pandemic at the time they need it most.
It will place those in low paid and precarious work in further financial stress
as they lose income to isolate when infected or in close contact with someone
else with COVID-19.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment was introduced in August 2020 in response
to concerns casual workers and others without sick or pandemic leave
entitlements could not take time off work when infected or in contact with
someone with COVID-19.
The leave payment was initially available to those not qualifying for JobKeeper
– or, after JobKeeper ended in March 2021, the “disaster payment” introduced in
response to the Sydney lockdown in July 2021. Since that payment ended the
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is the only individual financial support the
federal government provides.
Available to people who had contracted COVID, were a close contact or needed to
care for someone who had COVID, until this week it paid A$750 a week for two
weeks. You could claim the payment regardless of the number of hours of paid
work you lost.
On January 18 the rules tightened – a move announced via a press release on
January 8 (a Saturday).
Now it only pays $750 if you lose 20 hours or more of paid work a week. If you
lose 8-19 hours you get just $450 a week. If you lose less than eight hours you
Getting the payment has also been made more difficult by imposing a 14-day time
limit to apply, from the start of the isolation period. To qualify, you must
show evidence of a positive PCR or rapid antigen test. Considering the
difficulty of obtaining RATs, and delays in PCR test results of a week or more,
this is a unreasonable and unnecessary constraint."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics