Social Security and Welfare Benefits in Australia

Information on Medicare, the Australian national healthcare system, and other social welfare programmes, with details on where and how to register with the authorities and what contributions and benefits to expect...

Social security is the term used to describe welfare payments paid to individuals by the Australian government. The payments are funded through general taxation, although there is a specific levy to cover Medicare, the government funded healthcare system.

In Australia only citizens and people with permanent residency visas may claim social security benefits. Centrelink is the Australian government agency which manages social security.

With the exception of Medicare Australia, new residents are only eligible to claim social security benefits once they have been resident for 104 weeks, this is known as the Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period. Any period of residency counts towards this weekly total.

Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period

Most social security payments and benefits are only paid once an individual has been resident in Australia for a total of 104 weeks. However, upon arrival in the country it is possible to get help finding a job. Local Centrelink Customer Service Centres can provide help with finding employment.

  • To find a local Centrelink Customer Service Centre: Click here

A benefit known as Special Benefit is available to new migrants in severe financial difficulty resulting from a significant and unexpected change of circumstances. Inability to find work or losing a job is not usually considered a change of circumstances.

  • For further information on Special Benefit: Click here

The major exceptions to the Newly Arrived Resident's period are family payments, which are provided to help with the costs of raising a child. Other exceptional circumstances include an individual becoming disabled after they have migrated to Australia. Some payments, most notably pensions, have "qualifying residence" requirements rather than a Newly Arrived Resident's period. To claim either an age or disability pension an individual must have been resident in Australia for ten years.

  • For further information from Centrelink on the Newly Arrived Resident's period: Click here