These are, of course, not all the payments that the Australian government provides to Kiwis – however, this does cover most of the big ones.   Most of the others are highly circumstantial and you would need to take into consideration your personal situation and speak to Centrelink to see if you would be eligible – but they are definitely worth looking into! These can include:

  • Parental Leave Pay (after the birth of a child);
  • Special Benefit payment;
  • Rent Assistance payment;
  • Newborn supplement.

One-Off Payments from Australian Government

If you’ve been in Australia for 10 years or more (on a SCV visa) AFTER 27 January 2001, you may be eligible for a one-off payment of some benefits for up to six months. These include the Newstart Allowance (or job-seeker’s payment for unemployment), Sickness Allowance or Youth Allowance (payment for students and young job-seekers).

Carer’s Pension in Australia

To receive the Carer’s pension in Australia, you must be the primary carer for a partner who is receiving the Disability Support pension. You must have a total of 2 years residing in either Australia or New Zealand.

Disability Support Pension in Australia

To claim the Disability Support pension, you must be classified by the Australian government as “severely disabled”. This can be a physical, psychiatric or intellectual disability, but you must be unable to engage in work for more than 8 hours a week or participate in a rehabilitation program for 2 years or more.

This pension also requires a total of 10 years residency in Australia and/or New Zealand, which can be made up from years living in either country (much like the age pension), but it must consist of at least one year in New Zealand. To receive this pension, you must have also become “severely disabled” while residing in either Australia or New Zealand.

Be aware that you won’t automatically receive a Disability Support Pension if you received an Invalid’s Benefit in New Zealand. Centrelink will evaluate your claim from the time you file your application with the Australian government.

Age Pension for Kiwis in Australia

The age pension in Australia is roughly equivalent to NZ Superannuation. The age pension has the following requirements:

  • Must be 65 years old or older; and
  • Have been residing in Australia AND/OR New Zealand for at least 10 years.

As Australia and New Zealand have a reciprocal agreement, periods of time spent in both Australia and New Zealand between 20 and 64 years of age (for example, 2 years in New Zealand and 8 years in Australia will mean that you can qualify). However, you need to have entered Australia on a New Zealand passport.

Asset/Income Testing

This is a payment that is asset and income tested, unlike NZ Superannuation. If you exceed the asset/income “limit” (for example, own too many properties or make too much per year if you are still working), you may not

Australian Government Assistance for Kiwis in Australia

Now, here’s when your visa/residency status comes in (see our VISAS AND RESIDENCY section if you’re not sure what kind of visa you have) – Australia and New Zealand have something called a “reciprocal agreement” (or the International Social Security Agreement), which means that from 2002, Kiwis in Australia on a Special Category Visa (both Protected and Non-Protected) could access the Age Pension, the Disability Support Pension (if “severely” disabled) and the Carer Payment (if you are caring for someone that receives the Disability Support Payment).

Kiwis with a Protected SCV have access to a wider range of Australian government benefits than those on a Non-Protected SCV, so the below is mostly aimed at those on a Non-Protected SCV. However, all these payments have specific requirements, some of which are the same as in New Zealand. We have outlined the requirements briefly below, but you may need to seek advice from a welfare advocate centre or social worker if you have trouble with the Centrelink process, which can be tailored specifically to your situation.

Government Assistance in Australia – Available to Everyone

There is a short list of benefits that everyone in Australia is able to claim – so it doesn’t matter how you’re in Australia or what kind of visa you’re on, you will still be able to access these payments. Most of these payments have to do with having children in Australia.   These include:

  • The Family Tax Benefit;
  • Baby Bonus;
  • Maternity Immunisation Allowance;
  • Child Care Benefits; and
  • Double Orphan Pension.

There are another two payments that you may be able to access no matter your visa type – the Low Income Healthcare Card and Seniors Health Card.

Let’s start with the basics – the Australian agency that is responsible for government benefits and payments is called Centrelink. Centrelink is a typical government department – there are some long waiting times and trying to speak to someone on the phone is an exercise in patience. So don’t expect anything to happen quickly – it’s best to start the Centrelink process before its “needed”, as it can take quite some time for anything to come through or be sorted. Try to be as organised as possible with Centrelink – these waiting times means that forgetting a document or missing an appointment can mean that you’ll be rescheduled – sometimes weeks later.

To apply for a Centrelink payment, you will most probably need to attend on a Centrelink office – again, for any visit to Centrelink, plan to spend a while there. They will give you a Centrelink number, which will mean that most of the time, you will be able to use the online portal. They will ask for all kinds of information, which can include (but isn’t limited to) 100 points of ID, bank statements, information about property you own, information about any children you’re applying for benefits for (including birth certificates), information about where you’re living, who you live with, and your income.

This information is necessary because many Australian government benefits are income and assets tested – which means that should you have too many assets (e.g. property in Australia or New Zealand) or earn too much, your payments may be reduced or you may not be classified as eligible to receive any payments.

So where do I start?

You can start right here! We’ve outlined a few of the payments available to Kiwis in Australia – unfortunately, some types of assistance aren’t available to Kiwis unless you hold a specific type of visa or have been here for a certain amount of time. Once you’ve got a vague idea of what’s available, you’ll be in a better position to talk to Centrelink about what you need.

I just lost my job – can the Australian government help while I look for a new one?

Unfortunately, unless you’ve got permanent residency or you’ve been in Australia for 10 years or more on a SCV, and even then, only for six months – and only once.

I’m having a baby – will the Australian government help at all?

Congratulations! The Australian government will assist in small ways – if you have a baby while resident in Australia, no matter what your visa status, you will probably be eligible for a Family Tax Benefit (which is means tested), a child care payment and a maternal immunisation allowance.

Is it easy to get government payments in Australia?

Like all government departments, Centrelink (Australia’s benefits department) requires a dash of patience and a lot of seemingly invasive information – however, without that information, Centrelink will not make a determination about your eligibility to receive payments. It can be a tedious process, but once it’s set up and you’ve jumped through a few hoops along the way, things tend to run smoothly.

I already receive payments from the NZ government – can I continue to receive these while living in Australia?

You may be able to continue receiving New Zealand benefits for up to 26 weeks after you move – after which, you will either stop receiving these payments or file an application with the NZ Work and Income department to continue receiving these. It can take up to 6 weeks to change New Zealand payments to an overseas bank account – make sure you don’t close your New Zealand bank account before you receive your first payment into your Australian bank account!

Government Benefits – NZ and Australia

We all need some help sometimes! Whether it’s because you’ve been injured, just had a baby or can’t work anymore, most of the time the government is able to “fill the gap” until you’re back on your feet. But when you leave New Zealand, this might not be the case. Australia has some complicated rules surrounding payment of benefits to non-citizens, and it will depend on your visa/residency status to figure out what you’re eligible for.

Keep in mind that you may be able to continue to claim benefits in New Zealand that you were already receiving for up to 26 weeks after you leave! This can make your transition to life in Australia easier, but make sure to check with the relevant government department before you leave.

You may also be able to continue to receive New Zealand benefits while in Australia, or New Zealand may meet part of your entitlements while Australia meets the remainder – it all depends on your personal circumstances. This doesn’t include the Jobseeker Support or Emergency Benefit, the Young Parent Payment, or the Sole Parent Support payment.

Ultimately though, you may find it difficult to get assistance from the Australian government – they have some fairly rigid rules and requirements for receiving benefits from Centrelink. So it’s important to be well informed and prepared when applying – a little knowledge can be a powerful thing, especially when it comes to knowing your entitlements and what you’re eligible for. And hopefully, we can put you on the right track!