Changes to Federal Government Support for Local Workers

The Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters has today expressed relief that the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will remain available until 30 June 2022.

This payment is for people who can't earn an income because they have been directed by a state or territory health official to self-isolate or quarantine, or they’re caring for someone with COVID-19 or someone who has been asked to self-isolate or quarantine.

“Across the Bendigo electorate, a number of schools have had to close for deep cleans. Hundreds of students and staff are in isolation because they are close contacts to people who have been infected with COVID-19.

“Hopefully, this payment will help local parents who may need time off from work to care for their children who are close contacts to infected classmates,” Ms Chesters said.

Details of the payment and how to access it can be found at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/pandemic-leave-disaster-payment-victoria

While this payment is welcome, there will be many people that slip through the cracks and are left with no Federal support.

“I’m very disappointed in the Federal government’s plan to roll back the COVID-19 Disaster Payment,” Ms Chesters said.

The changes will occur in a staged fashion over November, starting tomorrow, and will result in Victorians no longer being able to access the support payment from the 19th of November.

“This payment was for workers affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.

“There are still businesses and industries affected by restrictions. According to Victoria’s Roadmap: Delivering the National Plan, density limits for many venues still apply meaning they have not yet returned to full trading capacity.

“There are still restrictions in place for weddings and private gatherings. Plus, a number of key local events and festivals have been cancelled well into next year.

“If you’re a business or worker associated with these events like caterers, photographers, AV businesses and so on, you are not at a pre-pandemic level of work.”

The reality is, is that we are only just learning to live with COVID-19 in our community. Many businesses are still operating on reduced hours and many workers still don’t have their hours back.”

“This just another example of the Morrison government tearing away support far too soon.

“There is no doubt that these changes will heighten the anxiety of many small business owners, and self-employed business owners have about how they keep their doors open without support for their workers or themselves,” Ms Chesters said.

“People are exhausted. It has been a tough two years. If workers have lost hours, or businesses can’t operate at full capacity, they should be supported.”