Welfare in Australia

Australia has many welfare services to assist those in need. Centrelink is an Australian Government statutory agency established to deliver a range of services to the Australian community. Centrelink oversees the annual distribution of some A$70.5 billion in social security payments.

Australia's welfare system is non-contributory and is funded out of general taxation. Most benefits are tightly means tested which results in the bulk of welfare expenditure to the poorest 30% of the population. Payment of taxes does not give an automatic entitlement to benefits.

Generally speaking, social security payments are only available to those who live in Australia and who are either Australian citizens or who have a permanent resident visa. For a permanent resident, there is a waiting period of two years from arrival in Australia for most benefit payments. For the age pension, the qualifying residence requirement is 10 years.

If a resident does not meet the qualifying residence period but is experiencing hardship because of a substantial change in circumstances, they may be eligible for a special benefit. Not being able to find a job or keep a job is not considered to be a change of circumstances.

Centrelink provides services other than the payment of benefits and, once registered, a new resident can, during the course of the waiting period, access such services.

To find out more about Centrelink and the services available, visit their website here..

In addition to Centrelink there are other welfare services available to assist those in need e.g. Salvation Army and Red Cross. Most religions also have affiliated welfare agencies which can be accessed through local religious and community centres.