Updated: Coronavirus supplement – here’s what you can do if you lose your job

Update Tuesday 10:53am: Amendments put forward by the federal Labor opposition to economic stimulus measures passed in the senate overnight will increase access to the measures for a number of Australians.

The coronavirus supplement will now be available to students, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said, with the $550 fortnightly payment being made available to those who are on Austudy, Abstudy and Youth Allowance payments.

With the prime minister’s announcement that bars are around the country are to close from midday Monday 23 March, we know there is going to be a lot of angst and fear for the future among bartenders nationwide.

The hard reality is that the closure will see many bartenders losing their jobs.

Yesterday we outlined some of the measures in the government’s economic support package targeted towards casuals and sole traders and others who lose work because of the coronavirus shutdown.

But applying for government wage support programs like JobSeeker is far from straightforward, so we’ve spent some time combing the JobSeeker website — which is as of this morning has not been updated to reflect the announcements — to understand what it all means.

We’ve also seen social media posts showing long Centrelink queues; in the government’s announcement yesterday they did say they were streamlining the process to get onto JobSeeker, so expect more updates from them on that.

Update: if you log into MyGov from tomorrow you will be able to lodge your intent to claim JobSeeker support. The federal government services minister, Stuart Robert, said at a press conference Monday afternoon that there is no need for those people to call or visit a Centrelink office in person. You will be able to back date your claim to today. There are delays on this website as well, as it is currently serving 55,000 users at a time, he said. You will be able to get the CRN number via MyGov, he said.

Below, here’s our best understanding of what you are entitled to, how it can work, who is eligible for the JobSeeker Payment, and who is eligible to early access to their superannuation.


If you’ve lost your job, regardless of job classification, you may be eligible for a JobSeeker (formerly known as NewStart) payment. 

You must be 22 years and older and meet certain obligations. The government announced that in the current climate they are reducing the number of times per month you must seek work to four per month.

A number of advocacy groups have criticised the amount of money available to JobSeeker recipients as too little for a long time, and the eligibility requirements as onerous. The government announced on Sunday a Coronavirus supplement, which will pay those on JobSeeker payments, an extra $550 per fortnight.

However, Jobseeker payments reduce depending on much money you earn each fortnight.

If you earn between less than $104 per fortnight, your JobSeeker payment is unaffected. 

If you earn between $104 and $254 per fortnight, your payment is reduced by 50 cents for every dollar over $104 you earn.

If you earn over $254 per fortnight, your payment is reduced by $75 and 60 cents for every dollar over $254 you earn.

The cutoff point at which you’ll receive no JobSeeker payment in a fortnight is $1,086.5.

If you earn below the JobSeeker income cutoff of $1,086.50 each fortnight, you are eligible for the JobSeeker payment. This means you are also eligible for the full rate of the coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight. 

This means that if you are earning $1,050 per fortnight, you will receive pretty much nothing in terms of the JobSeeker payment itself, however you will receive the full $550 Coronavirus supplement per fortnight. 

If you are earning nothing, you receive the standard $550 per fortnight JobSeeker payment, plus the Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight, for a total of $1,100 per fortnight.

You can find out more about the JobSeeker payment here.

From Services Australia.

If you are a sole trader or a casual worker and you have seen your income decline by 20 percent, you will be able to access your superannuation up to the amount of $10,000 this financial year, and $10,000 in the next financial year. This money will not be taxed and will not reduce any government benefits you may receive.

However, you need to bear in mind that any withdrawals from your superannuation account mean that you are essentially pulling funds from your retirement. 

Take a look at the statement from the PM’s office here.