The Government has announced a financial support package for eligible Australian citizens unable to return to Australia due to border closures.
Funds will be made available to people in financial difficulty, covering living costs and supplementing the cost of flights back to Australia.
Eligible Australian pensioners are able to secure grants instead of loans. These don’t need to be repaid.
If you’re alone, you may be eligible for a loan/grant of up to $2,000, whilst a family of 4 could potentially seek up to $4,000 for living expenses until they can secure a flight back.
If you qualify, the Government will help cover part of the cost of your airfare back to Australia. For the majority of people, this money will be loaned, but pensioners and children under 18 may be eligible for grants.
The amount you’ll receive depends on your location. For example, eligible citizens returning from Africa may be eligible for a loan/grant of $2,500 each, whilst those returning from Europe can expect $1,500 per person.
What about permanent residents?
This package is mostly geared towards citizens. Support for permanent residents is somewhat limited. If you have PR, you may be eligible for assistance if your immediate family member is Australian and they apply on your behalf.
This package demonstrates why PRs should apply for citizenship as soon as they’re eligible. Unfortunately, in cases like this, the Government’s first priority is its citizens.
This support is intended to be used as a last resort, you’ll need to show you are in genuine need of assistance.
Generally, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- Australian citizen
- Over 18
- Have tried to secure funds through other means
AND meet ONE or more of the following:
- You’re located somewhere with limited or no commercial airlines operating
- You need to shelter in place until you can return to Australia and require funds to assist you
- Border closures and disruptions have caused you financial distress
- You’re temporarily offshore and need to get back due to medical reasons or other reasons
You’ll need to show you can’t secure this money elsewhere. For example, you might be required to demonstrate that you’ve attempted to seek support from your bank, family or an insurance provider.
If money is loaned to you, it’s expected that you’ll pay it back within six months of returning to Australia, or commit to a repayment plan.
More information and how to apply
There is more information available on the Government’s SmarTraveller website.
You’ll complete the application via an online form and you’ll need to provide documentation to support your claims. Select carefully as there is a 10MB overall limit and a 5MB limit per item that you’re uploading.
There are approximately 25,000 Australians currently stranded overseas, with flight availability and quarantine caps making it difficult and costly for people to return. Only 4,000 passengers can currently enter Australia on any given week and arrivals are then subject to a 2-week hotel quarantine stay at their own expense.