Pandemic payments reinstated, claims open today

THE Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment has been reinstated, following a National Cabinet meeting on Saturday.

The claims reopened this morning.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly provided an update on the pandemic during National Cabinet, including new variants and their potential impact, and the impacts on hospital capacity and broader health system.

A new wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants is increasing the pressure on the health system.

In recognition of the risks associated with more infectious new variants through winter, the Commonwealth agreed to reinstate the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment to September 30, 2022.

Eligibility for the payment will be backdated to July 1, 2022, to ensure that anyone unable to work owing to isolation requirements in this period, without access to paid sick leave, can receive support.

Access to these payments will start from Wednesday July 20, with existing eligibility requirements to continue.

The Commonwealth and all States and Territories agreed to share the costs of the payment 50:50.

In addition, the Commonwealth government will also reinstate the Crisis Payment – National Health Emergency (COVID-19) until September 30, 2022, with eligibility also to be backdated to July 1, 2022.

This will ensure people affected by COVID-19 isolation requirements who receive an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance, and who are in severe financial hardship, continue to receive support through winter.

The Commonwealth has further agreed to create a new, temporary telehealth item, so GPs can spend longer with their patients to assess their suitably for oral COVID-19 antivirals. This will enable those most vulnerable to COVID-19 to quickly access medical treatments and help ease the burden on hospitals.