This post was originally published in June 2018. It has been republished with a small update from January 2019.

There has been a lot of talk in my Facebook group about the government’s proposed plans to introduce a four-year wait period for certain benefits for newly arrived migrants to Australia.

The aim of the government’s proposal is to encourage self-sufficiency as new migrants are arriving with skills that are wanted and the aim should be for them to find jobs and support themselves rather than relying on the state. This will in turn, apparently, save the government $200 million over five years.

Having read a lot of mis-information around the subject over recent days and weeks I wanted to put a post together with all of the official links and list the facts in one place to make it easy for you to find out where you stand. I also reached out to the DSS Media Team for clarification on some questions to ensure I am only sharing the correct information.

Want to know how much it costs a family to move to Australia? Find out here. 

The facts about the newly arrived migrant wait period proposal

First of all, please have a look at the official documentation here: Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants from July 2018

The document linked above outlines that from 1st July 2018, the government plans to extend the Newly Arrived Resident’s Wait Period for a number of welfare payments and concession cards. The main benefit that impacts the family members in my Facebook group is the Family Tax Benefit, although there are a number of benefits on the list including the Low Income Health Care Card, the Parental Leave Pay the Parenting Payment and more, so these could also have an impact. Please continue to read for the latest information on the wait period.

The document states:

This measure will only apply to people granted permanent residency, and some temporary visas such as temporary partner visas, on or after 1 July 2018. Migrants already granted permanent residency before 1 July 2018 will not be affected by this measure. Individuals and families subject to a waiting period will continue to have access to broader Government funded healthcare, education services and to childcare subsidies where they are using approved childcare and participating in work, study or other approved activities.

Again, something worth noting here is that this has NOT yet passed legislation, so at this stage it is still just a proposal and the intended start date of 1st July 2018 has now passed. No proposed amendments have been noted following initial readings of the Bill, however, the date for review keeps being pushed back. You can refer to this website for the latest information about the Bill’s progress.

To stay up to date from the Government directly, you can also keep an eye on the Living in Australia and Overseas page of the Australian Government Department of Social Services website which contains more useful information about the changes that are being proposed.

There are some exemptions to this wait period – vulnerable groups, including refugees, people coming into sudden financial hardship and victims of domestic abuse –  but on the whole this change will have an impact on families as they are trying to settle into their new life in Australia.

Please note, that the legislation was eventually passed on 3rd December 2018. There is now a wait period for certain benefits for new migrants who were granted a visa after 1st January 2019. Read all of the details on the Human Services website here. 

Want to know how much it costs a family to live in Brisbane? Find out here. 

How do these proposed changes to wait periods for new migrants affect childcare support in Australia?

In short, the answer is they won’t affect your access to childcare support – you will still be able to get childcare support as soon as you arrive even if you are granted PR after 1st July 2018 (providing you meet the regular requirements). I asked the Department of Social Services Media Team for clarification about this in writing as I heard a number of people saying that childcare benefit WAS included in this wait period, however, I am really happy to say it’s not.

A departmental spokesperson confirmed the following to me:

The changes to the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period will not affect eligibility requirements for the Child Care Subsidy. All permanent residents will continue to have access to the Child Care Subsidy, provided they meet eligibility requirements. For more information on the Child Care Subsidy, please refer to the Department of Education & Training website or contact that Department’s media team.

So, your access to childcare assistance won’t be affected by the new wait period,  although the system of childcare payments in Australia is also changing as of 2nd July 2018. What was previously called the Child Care Benefit and Childcare Rebate will now be relaunched as the Child Care Subsidy. You can read all about the new Child Care Subsidy here. This site also has some useful information about the new Child Care Subsidy.

If you’ve already been in receipt of childcare assistance in Australia, you need to take action to ensure you continue to receive the Childcare Subsidy beyond 2nd July 2018 as the new system DOES NOT rollover and you need to complete some new forms to access the new subsidy. If you haven’t arrived yet, you will be able to put in your application for it when you get here.

Hopefully that explains some of the facts and gives you some light bedtime reading. Please share the post with anyone you think will find it useful.

Moving to Australia and feeling stressed about all of the things on your to-do list? Grab my Ultimate Emigration Checklist to take the stress out of your move.


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