Unemployment and other benefits

In Australia, Centrelink provides a range of Government payments and services for people at times of major change. This includes services and payments for families, job seekers, older Australians and people with a disability.

You must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or the holder of certain temporary visas to access social security payments. If you recently arrived in Australia, you may not have immediate access to social security payments or concession cards and will be subject to a waiting period.

Waiting period

You usually have to wait 104 weeks (the newly arrived resident’s waiting period) before you receive most payments and benefits, with the exception of family assistance payments. 

You must be living in Australia​ to serve the waiting period. If you arrive in Australia on a Special Category Visa​ (New Zealand citizens arriving on a New Zealand passport), you will need to apply for and be granted a permanent resident visa before you can start to serve the newly arrived resident’s waiting period (except if you are claiming the Low Income Health Care Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card). While you are serving your waiting period, you can register with Jobactive for help with finding work. Visit the Jobactive website for more information.

​If you have lived in any countries that have social security agreements with Australia​, you may be able to use an agreement to help you qualify for some payments such as the age pension, the disability support pension, the carer payment, the parenting payment (single) or the bereavement allowance.

Exemptions to the newly arrived resident's waiting period

The waiting period may not apply if you are:

  • ​an Australian citizen;

  • a person who arrived under a refugee or humanitarian program; 

  • the holder of an exempt visa subclass;

  • ​the family member​ of an Australian citizen or long-term resident; or

  • ​a family member​ of a former refugee or humanitarian migra​nt at the time they arrived in Australia.

​There may be other exemptions of the waiting period for certain payments and concession cards. If you are in hardship (losing or not being able to find a job is generally not considered a hardship), you may be able to get a
special benefit​ immediately. 

Visit the Centrelink webs​ite​ for more information.​