A lump of coal has appeared under the Christmas tree of many new Australian residents, with the Government’s mid-year budget update containing a new cut to services for newly arrived permanent residents. Under the changes, migrants will no longer be eligible to apply for an exemption from the two-year waiting period before they are eligible to make claims for Centrelink payments, even if they are the family member of an Australian resident. This brings the Family Migration Scheme into line with some other groups of migrants, such as skilled visa holders. Other groups, such as refugees, can still make claims for an exemption to the two year wait-out. This change could affect around 30% of Australia’s permanent migrants if current trends continue.

Affected payments include Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Austudy Payments, Carer Payments, Sickness Allowance, Special Benefits, and other payments. The government has not detailed what “other payments” it may include, but has stated that that Age Pension and the Disability Support Pension will not be affected. The change will save the Australian government about $225 million over four years, which critics point out is a band-aid on a bucket next to the additional $588 million tacked into the Immigration budget over Christmas for processing asylum seekers offshore after “slower than forecast processing”.

If you are unsure what kind of help you may be able to claim when migrating to Australia, give us a call for an obligation-free chat on (07) 3229 4025. As a division of Irish Bentley Lawyers, we are uniquely placed to understand migration issues in the broader framework of the Australian legal system.