Social Security Payments for the Unemployed, the Sick and those in Special Circumstances, 1942 to 2006


Chronology Index

Social Policy Section

Social Security Payments for the Unemployed, the Sick and those in Special Circumstances, 1942 to 2006

Dale Daniels- Social Policy Section

Last updated 7 July 2006

This Chronology is issued electronically. It will be kept up-to-date online. The date of the latest update is noted clearly above.

All enquiries: Dale Daniels, Research Specialist.

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Special Benefit from 1945

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original enabling legislation:

Unemployment and Sickness Benefit Act 1944 (No. 10 of 1944)

1945

From July Special Benefit (SpB) was introduced. SpB was designed to provide for people who were ineligible for other pensions and benefits. It was to be granted at the discretion of the Director‑General to a person who by reason of age, physical or mental disability or domestic circumstances or any other reason was unable to provide for themselves and their dependants.

The rate of SpB was to be determined by the Director-General but was not to exceed that for UB or SB, whichever was most appropriate to the situation of the beneficiary. The commencement date and the period of payment were also at the discretion of the Director-General.

Payment of benefit could be made conditional on the beneficiary undertaking training, undergoing a medical examination, receiving treatment or doing work as required.

Curtin, ALP

1947

From July recipients of SpB were exempt from the requirement to undertake training or medical or rehabilitation treatment.

Chifley, ALP

1960

From February restrictions on the eligibility of Aboriginal people were removed.

Menzies, LCP

1975

From May SpB became payable to people newly released from prison to bridge the one-week waiting period for UB and SB.

Whitlam, ALP

1976

From July SpB became taxable.

Fraser, LNCP

1986

From May rent assistance was payable to SpB recipients on benefit for over six months, excluding those aged 1824 years living with parents or guardians.

Hawke, ALP

1988

From August a more stringent test of hardship was applied to SpB applicants which took greater account of a person's liquid assets. Reviews of SpB recipients, especially long term recipients, were reorganised on a regular basis.

From September SpB administration for those covered by Assurance of Support arrangements was reorganised. Migrants entering Australia with an Assurance of Support from another person were to be supported by that person for up to 10 years. SpB payments to such migrants created a debt recoverable from the assuror.

From November revised SpB guidelines were applied to avoid payments in unintended circumstances.

 

1989

From January the initial payment of SpB to ex‑prisoners was doubled.

From November applicants for and recipients of benefit were required to supply a tax file number.

 

1990

From August eligibility for SpB was extended to holders of four-year temporary entry permits.

From August a disaster relief payment equivalent to two weeks of maximum rate pension was introduced for those beneficiaries suffering disruption due to a major disaster. The measure was backdated to December 1989 to cover the Newcastle earthquake.

 

1991

From January applicants for and recipients of SpB could be required to provide their tax file number as a precondition to receiving payment. They were also required to provide the tax file number of their spouse.

From April computerised data matching was used to detect inconsistent payments being made to people by two or more Commonwealth agencies. DSS, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the Department of Health, Housing and Community Services, the Department of Employment Education and Training and the Australian Taxation Office were involved in this data matching.

People who held conditional two-year residence permits on the basis of a relationship with an Australian resident which had been applied for after 15 April 1991 were made eligible for SpB at the discretion of the Secretary of DSS.

From December people who entered agreements with the Commonwealth undertaking to assure support for migrants, who were unlikely to be able to support themselves, were required to lodge a refundable bond with the Commonwealth Bank. Any expenditure on SpB was to be deducted from the bond with any residue being refunded once the migrant had been settled in Australia for two years.

 

1992

In August the 199293 Budget included the announcement that from March 1993 20 000 reviews of SpB recipients will be conducted to determine whether they should be receiving other DSS pensions or benefits.

Keating, ALP

1993

From March claimants for SpB who were not expected to qualify for more than a 13week period were subject to reviews before payment could continue beyond 13 weeks. Such claimants were restricted to a maximum duration on SpB of 52 weeks with a further 13week extension at the discretion of the Secretary.

 

1997

From March a Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period of 104 weeks was introduced. Migrants who arrived after 4 March 1997 were unable to apply for a range of payments until the period had expired. Refugees, their immediate family and certain spouse visa holders were exempt. SpB was however payable to people serving the waiting period if they had suffered a substantial change in situation due to circumstances beyond their control.

Howard, Lib-NP

2000

From July the rate of allowances was increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for the impact of the introduction of the GST. An increase of four per cent was paid to all recipients. Indexation provisions were adjusted so that half of this four per cent increase would effectively be an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001. This left an effective long term increase in the allowance rate of two percent.

 

2003

From January certain classes of newly arrived residents of work force age who applied for SpB were subject to an activity test. Exemptions from this requirement similar to those applying to recipients of Newstart Allowance applied to SpB.

 

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Mature Age Allowance from 1994, Mature Age Partner Allowance 1994 to 1995

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original enabling legislation

Social Security (Budget and Other Measures) Legislation Amendment Act 1993 (No. 121 of 1993)

1994

From March Mature Age Allowance (MAA) was introduced. To qualify a person had to be:

  • 60 years of age or over, but under age pension age;
  • unemployed and registered with the CES for at least 12 months;
  • in receipt of income support for at least the previous 12 months; and
  • able to satisfy the residency requirements of the age pension.

A partner of a person who qualified could qualify for a Mature Age Partner Allowance (MAPA).

MAA recipients were not required to satisfy an activity test or remain registered with the CES. MAA and MAPA were paid at age pension rates and were subject to the age pension income and assets tests. Pensioner concessions, earnings credits and pensioner tax rebates were also available to allowees.

MAA and MAPA were made subject to a sunset clause which prevents new claims being lodged after 30 June 1996.

Keating, ALP

1995

From July no new grants of MAPA were made. Partners of MAA recipients were able to qualify for Partner Allowance (PA).

 

1996

From July:

  • the sunset clause was removed;
  • the requirement for 12 months of CES registration was be removed;
  • MAA was paid subject to the allowance income and assets tests rather than the pension income and assets tests;
  • applicants had to have been on JSA/NSA for nine months or on a non-activity tested payment and have had no recent work experience (not employed for more than 20 hours per week for a total of 13 weeks in the previous 12 months) and;
  • all MAA recipients at that time continued on the earlier conditions.
  • Recipients of MAA were able to receive an advance payment of their allowance of from $250 to $1000 in certain situations. Their allowance was reduced over the subsequent six to 12 months to allow repayment of the advance payment.

Howard, Lib-NP

1997

From January advance payments were restricted to amounts of up to $500 and limited to one each twelve months.

 

2000

From July the rate of allowances was increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for the impact of the introduction of the GST. An increase of four per cent was paid to all recipients. Indexation provisions were adjusted so that half of this four per cent increase would effectively be an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001. This left an effective long term increase in the allowance rate of two percent.

 

2003

From September no new grants of MAA were made. Those unable to apply for MAA were able to apply for Newstart Allowance instead. MAA was to be phased out by 2008.

 

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Partner Allowance from 1994

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original enabling legislation

Social Security (Home Child Care And Partner Allowances) Legislation Amendment Act 1993 (No. 55 of 1993)

1994

From September Partner Allowance (PA) was introduced. PA replaced the additional amount of JSA/NSA or SA paid to recipients who had a dependent spouse. PA was paid directly to the dependent spouse. It was paid under the same rates and conditions as the married rate of JSA/NSA or SA and was subject to the same income and asset tests.

Keating, ALP

1995

From July a Parenting Allowance (PgA) was introduced for partners of JSA/NSA recipients who were caring for children under the age of 16 years. This allowance replaced PA for these people and was paid at the same rate and under the same income and assets tests as the married rate of JSA/NSA. It also absorbed Home Child Care Allowance (HCCA) which became a tax free minimum payment of $61 per fortnight. That minimum payment was reduced by the income of the Parenting Allowee not that of their partner.

Eligibility for Partner Allowance was restricted to dependent spouses who were aged over 40 years and had little or no recent labour market experience. Other spouses not eligible for PgA or PA were required to apply for JSA/NSA in their own right.

 

1996

From March recipients of WA were able to receive an advance payment of their allowance of from $250 to $1000 in certain situations. Their allowance was reduced over the subsequent six to 12 months to allow repayment of the advance payment.

Howard, Lib-NP

1997

From January advance payments were restricted to amounts of up to $500 and limited to one each twelve months.

From March eligibility for PA was extended to partners of people receiving living allowances under the Austudy, Student Financial Supplement and Abstudy schemes

 

2000

From July the rate of allowances was increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for the impact of the introduction of the GST. An increase of four per cent was paid to all recipients. Indexation provisions were adjusted so that half of this 4 per cent increase would effectively be an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001. This left an effective long term increase in the allowance rate of 2 per cent.

 

2003

From September no new grants of PA were made. Those unable to apply for PA were able to apply for Newstart Allowance instead. PA was to be phased out by 2020.

 

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Widow Allowance from 1995

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original Enabling Legislation

Social Security (Parenting Allowance and Other Measures) Legislation Amendment Act 1994
(No. 174 of 1994)

1995

From January a Widow Allowance (WA) was introduced. This allowance was paid to women who were no longer partnered, who became separated, divorced or widowed after turning 50 years of age and who had little or no recent workforce experience. The allowance was paid under the same rates and conditions and under the same income and assets tests as Job Search and Newstart Allowances. The allowance was not activity tested and no job searching was required. However recipients were eligible for certain labour market assistance, employment entry payment and education entry payment. The allowance will be phased out from July 2005 by raising the age of eligibility by one year in each subsequent year.

Keating, ALP

1997

From March qualification was extended to women aged 50 years or more who had been widowed after turning 40 years of age rather than 50 years of age.

Howard, Lib-NP

2000

From July the rate of allowances was increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for the impact of the introduction of the GST. An increase of 4 per cent was paid to all recipients. Indexation provisions were adjusted so that half of this 4 per cent increase would effectively be an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001. This left an effective long term increase in the allowance rate of two percent.

 

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Youth Allowance

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original Enabling Legislation

Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Allowance) Act 1998
(No. 18 of 1998)

1998

From July Youth Allowance (YA) was introduced. It was the main income support payment for young people. It replaced Youth Training Allowance, Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance for 15 to 20 year old unemployed people. It also replaced AUSTUDY for 16 to 24 year old students (and for older students who started a course before turning 25 years of age).

Recipients were subject to an activity test regime. For unemployed recipients it was similar to that for Newstart Allowance. Enhanced Mutual Obligation arrangements were introduced for unemployed YA recipients. All young unemployed people who have been receiving payment for six months were required to undertake an additional activity in return for receiving payments. For more detail on the history of Mutual Obligation see Mutual Obligation/Work for the Dole e-brief

For students full-time study was required.

Rates of payment were $145.40 pf for 16 and 17 year olds living at home, $174.80 pf for those aged 18 years or more living at home and $265.50 pf for those living away from home. Rates were indexed annually.

Independent recipients received the away from home rate and those with children received the relevant Newstart Allowance rate. Rent assistance was also available to independent recipients.

Independent status applied if recipients had supported themselves through employment since leaving school. It also applied if recipients were refugees, orphans, homeless, in state care, parents or partnered for over 12 months. 15 year olds had to be independent to qualify for YA.

Recipients who were not independent were subject to a parental income and assets test. This test was supplemented by the Family Actual Means Test which was applied to parents who were self-employed or had significant income from certain sources other than wages or salaries. A personal income test applied to all recipients. Those who were unemployed were subject to the same income test as applied to Newstart Allowance. Students were able to receive up to $230 pf before losing 50 cents for each dollar of private income up to $310 pf. Income above that amount reduced payment by 70 cents for each dollar of private income. An income bank of $6000 per annum allowed students to average income and reduce the impact of the income test on income during high income periods.

A Fares Allowance and a Student Financial Supplement Scheme that had applied to Austudy recipients continued to be available for Youth Allowees who were students. Fares Allowance assisted with travel costs for students who had to live away from home to study. The Student Financial Supplement Scheme allowed students to trade in one dollar of YA and receive two dollars of an interest free but indexed loan. Loans of between $500 and $7000 were available.

Howard, Lib-NP

2000

From July the rate of allowances was increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for the impact of the introduction of the GST. An increase of four per cent was paid to all recipients. Indexation provisions were adjusted so that half of this four per cent increase would effectively be an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001. This left an effective long term increase in the allowance rate of two percent.

The income and asset test free areas that applied to allowances were also increased by two and a half percent as part of the compensation package.

 

2001

From January 75 per cent (rather than 50 per cent) of the value of a person's farm or business assets were disregarded under the family assets test for YA.

 

2002

From July breach penalties for not attending an interview ceased to be activity test breach penalties. They were treated as administrative breach penalties only.

 

2003

From September a Working Credit for workforce age people on income support was introduced. Credits of up to $48 per fortnight would be accumulated up to a total of $1000. Any income earned would reduce the amount of credit accumulated each week on a dollar for dollar basis. In fortnights where earnings exceeded the income test free area the accumulated credit would be reduced before any reduction was made to income support under the income test.

A $20.80 pf supplement was paid to people participating in approved language, literacy and numeracy training programs.

Activity test breach penalties were changed so that where a first activity test or administrative breach was incurred the penalty period could be shortened if the recipient complied with the activity requirements.
The penalty period could be reduced from 26 weeks to 8 weeks for an activity test breach penalty and from 13 weeks to 8 weeks for an administrative breach penalty.

Reduced breach penalties were not available if the recipient:

  • did not start a job as planned
  • declined the offer of a job interview
  • became voluntarily unemployed
  • was dismissed from employment for misconduct
  • knowingly or recklessly declared incorrect earnings from employment, or
  • failed to submit a satisfactory jobseeker diary.
 

2004

From January no new loans were made under the Student Financial Supplement Scheme.

From September scholarships that pay or waive tuition fees were not counted as income under the income test.

 
2005 From July New Apprentices were eligible for YA.  
2006

From July new claimants for income support with disabilities who had a partial capacity to work were no longer eligible to apply for Disability Support Pension. If they were unemplyed and applied for YA they were required to seek suitable paid work of at least 15 hours per week.

New claimants for income support who were principal carers for children were no longer eligible to apply for Parenting Payment if their youngest child was aged 6 years or older if partnered or 8 years or older if single. If they were unemployed and applied for YA they were required to seek suitable paid work of at least 15 hours per week. Access to child care and reasonable travel times were taken into account in determining whether work was suitable. Principal carers could be exempt from the requirement to satisfy the activity test if they were: affected by domestic violence, had children with a disability or illness, had a large family, or were foster carers, home or distance educators.

YA recipients with a partial capacity to work or who were principal carers were elibible for Pharmaceutical Allowance and a Pensioner Concession Card.

Very long term unemployed people with a pattern of work aviodance could be required to undertake full-time Work for the Dole for 50 hours per fortnight.

Penalties under the compliance regime were changed so that an eight week non-payment period was imposed after three participation failures within 12 months. Each participation failure resulted in a non-payments period that lasted until compliance occurred.

The income test for jobseekers was changed so that income between $62 and $250 per fortnight reduced payment by 50 cents for each dollar of income. Income over $250 per fortnight reduced payment by 60 cents for each dollar of income.

The income test for students and apprentices was changed so that income above $316 per fortnight reduced payment by 60 cents for each dollar of income.

Debts resulting from knowingly incorrectly declaring earnings resulted in a one off 10% recovery fee rather than a fixed amount penalty.

 

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Table 3: Maximum Weekly Rates of Unemployment Benefit, Job Search Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Sickness Benefit, Sickness Allowance, Youth Training Allowance, Youth Allowance and Austudy Payment from 1945 (a)

($ per week)

Date
of effect
Aged
over 20,or partnered
Aged
1820
Aged
1617
Dependant Spouse
SB 6 weeks and over
(b)
Other

01.07.45

2.50

2.00

1.50

2.00

25.09.52

4.10

4.00

2.10

4.00

17.10.57

6.50

4.75

3.50

4.75

27.09.61

7.50

4.75

3.50

5.25

01.03.62

8.25

4.75

3.50

6.00

27.09.69

10.00

6.00

4.50

7.00

28.09.70

10.00

6.00

4.50

7.00

15.50

10.00

01.04.71

10.00

6.00

4.50

7.00

16.00

10.50

29.09.71

10.00

6.00

4.50

8.00

17.25

11.25

25.02.72

17.00

11.00

7.50

8.00

17.25

11.25

24.04.72

17.00

11.00

7.50

8.00

18.25

12.00

27.09.72

17.00

11.00

7.50

8.00

20.00

13.00

 

 

with dependant spouse

Single over 17

Single 1617

16.03.73

37.50

21.50

21.50

26.09.73

40.50

23.00

23.00

22.03.74

45.50

26.00

26.00

31.07.74

51.50

31.00

31.00

19.05.75

60.00

36.00

36.00

01.11.75

64.50

38.75

36.00

03.05 76

68.50

41.25

36.00

01.11.76

72.50

43.50

36.00

02.05.77

78.50

47.10

36.00

01.11.77

82.20

49.30

36.00

01.05.78

85.80

51.45

36.00

 

 

With
dependant spouse

SB Single over 17; UB with children

UB/SB
single 1617

UB single over 17

01.11.78

88.70

53.20

36.00

51.45

01.11.79

96.50

57.90

36.00

51.45

01.05.80

101.70

61.05

36.00

51.45

01.11.80

106.80

64.10

36.00

53.45

07.05.81

111.10

66.65

36.00

53.45

05.11.81

116.20

69.70

36.00

58.10

06.05.82

123.60

74.15

36.00

58.10

01.11.82

128.80

77.25

40.00

64.40

01.05.83

137.30

82.35

40.00

68.65

01.11.83

143.20

85.90

45.00

73.60

01.05.84

149.10

89.40

45.00

78.60

01.11.84

153.30

91.90

(c)45.00

81.10

01.05.85

157.30

94.30

(c)45.00

85.20

 

 

With dependant spouse

Single SB over 17; or UB/SB with dependants

Single, no dependants

UB/SB 1617

UB, 1820

UB, over 20

01.11.85

163.30

97.90

50.00

88.20

91.45

01.05.86

170.30

102.10

50.00

88.20

95.40

01.07.86

170.30

102.10

(d)50.00

88.20

95.30

15.12.86

177.10

106.20

(d)50.00

88.20

99.20

01.01.87

177.10

106.20

(d)50.00

91.20

99.20

13.06.87

187.00

112.15

(d)50.00

91.20

104.75

 

 

With dependant spouse

Single with children

Single, no children aged

 

<18 max

<18 min.

<18 ind.

1820 rate

over 20 rate

 

13.12.87

193.50

116.10

(d)50.00

25.00

-

91.20

108.40

01.01.88

193.50

116.10

(d)50.00

25.00

-

91.20

108.40

13.06.88

200.10

120.05

(d)50.00

25.00

-

91.20

112.10

13.12.88

207.10

124.25

(d)50.00

25.00

-

91.20

116.00

01.01.89

207.10

124.25

(d)53.55

25.00

-

97.70

116.00

13.06.89

215.40

129.20

(d)53.55

25.00

-

97.70

120.65

15.11.89

222.70

133.60

(d)53.55

25.00

-

97.70

124.75

01.01.90

222.70

133.60

57.60

26.90

95.10

105.15

124.75

18.04.90

235.40

141.20

57.60

26.90

95.10

105.15

130.00

20.09.90

(e)243.20

145.85

57.60

26.90

95.10

(f)105.15

134.30

01.01.91

243.20

145.85

62.05

28.95

95.10

113.25

134.30

28.03.91

251.50

150.80

62.05

28.95

102.40

113.25

138.85

01.01.92

251.50

150.80

64.15

29.95

105.90

117.10

138.85

20.03.92

255.30

153.05

64.15

29.95

105.90

117.10

140.95

01.01.93

255.30

153.05

64.90

30.30

107.15

118.50

140.95

28.01.93

260.30

156.05

64.90

30.30

107.15

118.50

140.95

20.03.93

260.30

156.05

64.90

30.30

107.15

118.50

141.35

20.09.93

263.70

158.10

64.90

30.30

107.15

118.50

143.20

01.01.94

263.70

158.10

66.15

30.90

109.20

120.75

143.20

20.03.94

265.30

159.05

66.15

30.90

109.20

120.75

147.05

20.09.94

(g)134.10

160.80

66.15

30.90

109.20

120.75

148.65

01.01.95

134.10

160.80

(h)67.15

(h)31.45

(h)111.05

122.80

148.65

20.03.95

136.00

163.05

67.25

31.45

111.05

122.80

150.75

20.09.95

140.10

167.95

67.25

31.45

111.05

122.80

155.25

01.01.96

140.10

167.95

70.30

32.87

116.05

128.35

155.25

20.03.96

142.90

171.30

70.30

(i)

116.05

128.35

158.35

20.09.96

144.45

173.20

70.30

116.05

128.35

160.10

01.01.97

144.45

173.20

72.50

119.65

132.35

160.10

20.03.97

145.05

173.90

72.50

119.65

132.35

160.75

01.01.98

145.05

173.90

72.70

120.00

132.75

160.75

 

($ per fortnight)

 

Partnered

Single with children

Youth Allowance

Single no children

At home aged 16 to 17 yrs

At home aged 18+ yrs

Away from home

01.07.98

290.10

347.80

145.40

174.80

265.50

321.50

20.09.98

291.80

349.90

145.40

174.80

265.50

323.40

01.01.99

291.80

349.90

146.40

176.00

267.40

323.40

20.03.99

293.80

352.30

146.40

176.00

267.40

325.70

20.09.99

294.70

353.40

146.40

176.00

267.40

326 70

01.01.00

294.70

353.40

148.00

177.90

270.30

326 70

20.03.00

299.10

358.70

148.00

177.90

270.30

331.60

01.07.00

311.10

373.00

153.90

185.00

281.10

344.90

20.09.00

316.40

379.30

153.90

185.00

281.10

350.80

01.01.01

316.40

379.30

158.80

190.90

290.10

350.80

20.03.01

322.80

386.90

158.80

190.90

290.10

357.80

20.09.01

328.90

394.30

158.80

190.90

290.10

364.60

01.01.02

328.90

394.30

165.10

198.60

301.70

364.60

20.03.02

332.80

399.00

165.10

198.60

301.70

369.00

20.09.02

338.10

405.40

165.10

198.60

301.70

374.90

01.01.03

338.10

405.40

169.70

204.20

310.70

374.90

20.03.03

342.80

411.10

169.70

204.20

310.10

380.10

20.09.03

347.30

416.40

169.70

204.20

310.10

385.00

01.01.04

347.30

416.40

174.30

209.70

318.50

385.00

20.03.04
351.10
421.00
174.30
209.70
318.50
389.20
20.09.04
356.00
426.90
174.30
207.70
318.50
394.60
01.01.05
356.00
426.90
178.70
214.90
326.50
394.60
20.03.05
360.30
432.00
178.70
214.90
326.50
399.30
20.09.05
365.00
437.60
178.70
214.90
326.50
404.50
01.01.06
365.00
437.60
183.20
220.30
334.70
404.50
20.03.06
370.50
444.20
183.20
220.30
334.70
410.60

Notes:

(a) SpB is payable at a rate not exceeding the rate of JSA/NSA or SA that would have been paid had the beneficiary qualified for one of those benefits.
(b) Adults or married minors and unmarried minors with no parent in Australia.
(c) Single unemployment beneficiaries 1617 years old with dependants were paid the single 18 years and over with dependants rate. 1617 year olds receiving benefit for 6 months or more received $50 per week.
(d) From July 1986 the Young Homeless Allowance was introduced. An additional $23.28 was paid to eligible people, rising to $26.00 in 1988 and $27.85 in 1989
(e) From this date the married rate was paid to couples under 21 years of age only where they had dependent children.
(f) An at-home rate of JSA for 1820 year olds was introduced at $69.20. The rate was $74.55 in 1991, $77.10 in 1992, $78.05 in 1993 and $79.55 in 1994.
(g) Payments for each partner in a couple were introduced. Partner Allowance was paid to spouses who were not in the workforce.
(h) Youth Training Allowance (YTA) replaced JSA for under 18 year old people.

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Table 4: Maximum Income and Asset Limits under Means Testing Arrangements for Unemployment Benefit, Job Search Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Sickness Benefit, Sickness Allowance, Youth Training Allowance, Youth Allowance and Austudy Payment from 1945

 

Income
before benefit reduced under income test

Assets allowed before
benefit reduced under assets test

Homeowner

Non-homeowner

Date of effect

Single 21+, or married

Single
1620

Couple

Single

Couple

Single

 

($ per week)

(value - $)

01.07.45

2.00

(a)1.50

       

17.10.57

4.00

2.00

       

27.09.69

6.00

3.00

       

01.11.80

(b)6.00

(c)3.00

       

All recipients

       

01.11.82

 

10.00

01.03.84

 

20.00

01.05.86

 

30.00

13.12.87

 

30.00

118 500

83 250

178 500

143 250

23.06.88

 

30.00

127 000

89 250

191 000

153 250

22.06.89

 

30.00

137 000

96 000

205 500

164 500

21.06.90

 

30.00

147 500

103 500

221 500

177 500

20.09.90

 

(d)30.00

147 500

103 500

221 500

177 500

01.06.91

 

(d)30.00

157 500

110 750

137 000

190 250

01.07.92

 

(d)30.00

160 000

112 500

240 500

193 000

01.07.93

 

(e)30.00

160 500

112 750

241 000

193 250

01.07.94

 

(e)30.00

163 500

115 000

245 500

197 000

01.07.95

 

30.00

167 500

118 000

251 500

202 000

01.07.96

 

30.00

176 000

124 000

264 500

212 500

 

Students

Others

       
 

$ per fortnight

       

01.07.98

230.00

60.00

178.500

125 750

268 500

215 750

01.07.99

230.00

60.00

181 500

127 750

273 000

219 250

01.07.00

236.00

62.00

189 500

133 250

285 000

228 750

01.07.01

236.00

62.00

200 500

141 000

301 500

242 000

01.07.02

236.00

62.00

206 500

145 250

311 000

249 750

01.07.03
236.00
62.00
212 500
149 500
320 500
257 500
01.07.04

236.00

62.00

217 500

153 000

328 500

263 500

01.07.05

236.00

62.00

223 000
157 000
336 500
270 500

01.07.06

236.00

62.00

229 000
161 500
346 000
278 500

Notes:
(a) 50 cents for 16 year olds and $1.00 for 17 year olds.
(b) Also for 18 to 20 year olds.
(c) Only for under 18 year olds.
(d) Married rate beneficiaries could earn an additional $30 per fortnight from wages or salaries.
(e) Single rate beneficiaries could earn an additional $30 per fortnight from wages or salaries. Married rate beneficiaries could earn an additional $50 each per fortnight from wages or salaries.

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Supplementary Allowance 1970 to 1985, Rent Assistance from 1985

Commencement Date

Details

Government at Commencement

Original enabling legislation:

Social Services Act (No. 2) 1970 (No. 59 of 1970)

1970

From September long‑term sickness beneficiaries, who paid rent and who were entirely or substantially dependent on their benefit, became eligible to receive supplementary allowance of up to $2 per week.

Gorton, LCP

1974

From November the amount of supplementary allowance was restricted to the amount of rent actually paid.

Whitlam, ALP

1976

From June supplementary allowance became taxable.

Fraser, LNCP

1982

From February the maximum rate of supplementary allowance became either $8 per week or one half of the amount by which rent paid or payable was more than $10 per week, whichever was the lower. Tenants of government housing authorities ceased to be eligible.

From December eligibility for supplementary allowance was extended to those who had transferred from unemployment to sickness benefit or who, but for their illness or incapacity, would have qualified for unemployment benefit.

 

1984

From March the allowance was no longer subject to income tax.

Hawke, ALP

1985

From September Supplementary Allowance was renamed Rent Assistance (RA).

 

1986

From May RA of $10 per week was extended to unemployment beneficiaries who had been on benefit for six months or more, were renting privately and who were married with dependent children, aged 25 or over or were aged 1824 and were not living with parents or guardians.

From December the rent threshold above which RA was payable was increased to $15 per week.

 

1987

From July the separate income test on RA was abolished and RA, like other special needs supplements to benefits, was withdrawn under the benefits income test.

From December RA was standardised across all benefits, the more liberal sickness benefit rent assistance provisions no longer applying.

 

1989

From June a $5 per week payment was added to RA for those with children.

Ex-prisoners were able to reduce the waiting period by the length of time they spent in prison.

The rent threshold above which RA was payable was raised to $20 per week.

Those paying for board and lodgings had only two-thirds of their payment counted as rent.

From December the maximum rate was standardised across all pensions, benefits and family allowance supplement.

 

1990

From June a higher rate was introduced for those with three or more children.

 

1991

From March the rent threshold above which RA was paid was increased to $25 per week.

Twice yearly indexation in line with movements of the CPI was introduced for the rate of RA.

 

1992

From March the waiting period for recipients of JSA, NSA, SA or SpB who had no dependants and who were aged 18 to 60 years was removed.

Eligibility was extended to under 18 year olds who received the independent/homeless rate of JSA, SA or SpB and who had been receiving income support for at least 18 weeks.

Keating, ALP

1993

From January RA for people with children was paid as an add on to Additional Family Payment.

From March 1993 the rent threshold above which RA is payable was indexed and set at levels which varied according to family situation. For single people with no children the threshold was $60 per fortnight, for single people with children $80 per fortnight, for couples without children $100 per fortnight and for couples with children $120 per fortnight.

Above the new thresholds RA was paid at the rate of 75 cents for each dollar of rent paid up to the maximum amount.

 

1994

From March the 18week waiting period served by under 18 independent rate JSA/SA recipients was abolished.

 

1996

From March:

  • maximum rates of RA were increased by five dollars per fortnight for families with children;
  • the minimum amount of rent that had to be paid to receive RA was raised by five dollars and;
  • people receiving RA under various savings provisions resulting from previous changes in RA conditions would have their rate frozen until general rates catch up to their higher saved rate.

Howard, Lib-NP

1997

From July single people without dependent children who shared accommodation were only eligible for two thirds of the maximum rate of RA.

 

1998

From January people who lived in public housing but were not the primary tenant were to be excluded from eligibility for RA. Exemptions applied where the primary tenant was unsubsidised or where the State Housing Authority had been notified of the sub-tenants presence and their income had been taken into account in setting the rent for the household.

 

2000

From July the rates of payment for RA were increased as part of a package of measures to compensate for the introduction of the GST.

 

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Table 5: Maximum Weekly Rates of Supplementary Allowance/Rent Assistance for Beneficiaries and Allowees, from 1970

($ per week)

Date of effect

Basic rate

 

With dependent children

 

1 or 2

3 or more

28.09.70

2.00

27.09.72

4.00

01.11.74

5.00

01.02.82

8.00

01.11.82

10.00

01.11.84

15.00

01.05.86

(a)15.00

13.12.87

(b)10.00

(b)15.00

(b)15.00

13.06.89

10.00

20.00

20.00

13.12.89

20.00

25.00

25.00

13.06.90

25.00

30.00

35.00

20.09.90

30.00

35.00

40.00

20.03.91

31.00

36.20

41.35

20.03.92

31.45

36.75

41.95

20.09.92

31.50

36.80

42.00

 

No children

 

Partnered

Single

 

$ per fortnight

20.03.93

63.20

67.20

   

20.09.93

64.00

68.00

   

20.03.94

64.40

68.40

   

20.09.94

65.20

69.20

   

20.03.95

66.20

70.20

   

20.09.95

68.20

72.40

   

20.03.96

69.60

73.80

   

20.09.96

70.40

74.60

   

20.03.97

70.60

74.80

   

20.09.98

71.00

75.20

   

20.03.99

71.40

75.80

   

20.09.99

71.60

76.00

   

20.03.00

72.60

77.20

   

01.07.00

79.80

85.00

   

20.09.00

81.20

86.40

   

20.03.01

82.80

88.00

   

20.09.01

84.40

89.60

   

20.03.02

85.40

90.60

   

20.09.02

86.80

92.00

   

20.03.03

88.00

93.20

   

20.09.03

89.20

94.40

   
20.03.04
90.20
95.40
   
20.09.04
91.40
96.80
   
20.03.05
92.40
98.00
   
20.09.05
93.60
99.20
   
20.03.06
95.00
100.60
   

Notes:
(a) RA of $10.00 per week introduced for some UB/SpB recipients.
(b) RA for all beneficiaries paid under the same rates and conditions.

 


Chronologies are written for Members of Parliament, being located on the Internet they can be read by members of the public, however some linked items are available to Members of Parliament only, due to copyright reasons.

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