Welfare Applicants in Australia Told to Register Online

Welfare Applicants in Australia Told to Register Online
People are seen lining up at Centrelink in Flemington on March 23, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia after COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns started. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of sacked Australian workers are being told to apply for welfare payments online.

Services Australia boss Hank Jongen is urging people not to line up outside Centrelink offices.

“Once you log in to MyGov you can simply click on ‘An intent to claim’,” he said on Wednesday.

“That will give permission for MyGov to give us your personal details and we will then contact you. That locks in your date of eligibility.”

Tens of thousands of people are seeking welfare after losing their jobs amid the economic fallout of coronavirus.

MyGov has had more than three million logins in less than a day, with the website crashing on Monday.

People have been told it will take more than two weeks for their applications to be processed.

Centrelink will boost its workforce by 5000 people to deal with the influx of Jobseeker benefit applicants and extend call centre hours.

Various income tests apply for the coronavirus supplement but the prime minister says these thresholds could be changed.

“When we get the feedback we will take action and then we'll get the system in place to support that,” Scott Morrison told 2GB radio.

The mutual obligation requirement has suspended until the end of the month, so people already on welfare don’t have to report their income or attend appointments in order to get Jobseeker payments.

Meanwhile, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert admitted the government hadn’t planned on so many people trying to access the MyGov site.

Robert apologised for claiming MyGov had been hacked on Monday when it had actually crashed due to overwhelming demand.

Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally says the government should have expected the huge wave of welfare applicants, as hundreds of thousands are also predicted to lose jobs in coming week.

“The fact there are queues around Centrelink offices is an indictment of the social service support system. Yes it’s unprecedented demand but it was not unexpected demand,” she told reporters in Sydney.

“There are parents who had jobs last week who could provide food and pay rent, and now they are wondering how they are going to do that next week.”

Labor wants the government to make the coronavirus supplement—which is a maximum of $550 a fortnight on top of the current payment - available now instead of late April.