Changes to volunteer requirements

Pamela is currently on Newstart and wants to know how the new participation requirements affect her.


Q. Pamela
I am 63 years old and on Newstart payments. I have been told by Centrelink that I must work or volunteer for 30 hours per fortnight. If I don’t work the 30 hours, my jobactive people will ask me to apply for 20 jobs per month and attend their office once a week for one hour to apply for jobs. I find that unnecessary, as I am quite capable of doing this at home on my laptop. I have just read on YourLifeChoices that anyone over 60 and on Newstart only needs 10 hours activity per fortnight to receive the payment. Can you please clarify this for me?

A. From 20 September 2018, the Government strengthened participation requirements for some people receiving an unemployment payment, including mature-aged Australians.

Under the changes, job seekers aged 55 to 59 who have been receiving an unemployment payment for less than 12 months, and who wish to avoid doing any other activities, such as a job search, need to undertake 30 hours per fortnight of volunteer or paid work, of which at least 15 hours will need to be in paid work. 

Annual activity requirements of 10 hours per fortnight have also been introduced for those aged between 60 and the Age Pension age.

From 20 September 2018, job seekers aged 60 and over, who are not already fully meeting their mutual obligation requirements through 30 hours per fortnight of voluntary and/or paid work, will have an annual activity requirement. This means they will be required to undertake 10 hours of activities per fortnight (compared to 30 or 50 for younger age groups), in addition to job searches, for six months of each year after their first 12 months on payment. The annual activity requirement can be met through any approved activity, including voluntary work.

Job seekers aged 60 and over who are already participating in 10 or more hours per fortnight of voluntary work, paid work, other approved activity or any combination of these will be able to use this activity to meet their annual activity requirements. They will have to conduct job searches as well, if their provider thinks that is appropriate (unless they are undertaking 30 hours of paid and/or voluntary work, in which case they will have no further requirements).