Three Year Welfare Wait For Migrants

01:52' 25-01-2018
In an effort to save $1.3 billion over the next four years, the Federal Government will make migrants who arrive in Australia from July wait three years before they can access certain welfare payments. The current waiting period is two years.

    Photo: sbs.com.au

    The extended waiting time will apply to paid parental leave, the Carers Allowance and the Family Tax Benefit. Those bringing relatives to Australia on a family visa will also need to guarantee their financial independence for three years.

    The waiting period will not apply to humanitarian entrants, “vulnerable families”, and some New Zealand citizens with children in their care. Also, the new measures do not affect new migrants’ access to other government services, such as health care through Medicare and education, or access to child care subsidies.

    The government claims the change will encourage self-sufficiency among new migrants. However, Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the opposition was “deeply concerned” about the impact the change to waiting time might have. 

    Migration Council Australia CEO Cara Wilshire warned the measure will further reduce the representation of migrants, especially female newcomers, in the Australian workforce. Mary Patetsos, chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA), called it a “worrying step”, adding that it was unclear what was meant by “vulnerable families”.

    The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), responding to the announcement last December, said the extended waiting time “will create an underclass of migrants”, affecting 50,000 migrant families. If new migrants lose their job, they will have no support. This would also be the case if one of their children becomes gravely ill, and they have to take time off from their job to care for the child.

    Social Services Minister Christian Porter said new migrants need to contribute to Australia before being eligible for welfare payments.

    Ms Wilshire said the contribution of new migrants needed to be looked at in the long term to be understood. “We need to make sure that we support them properly in those first few years so their contribution can be a lifelong one,” she said.

    The savings, proposed in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), also include finding $2.1 billion by capping funds for universities.

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Keywords: federal governmentmigrantswelfare payments

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