Pandemic payments to be made available nationally

6 August 2020

The Federal Government will allow other states and territories to join Victoria in accessing $1,500 pandemic payments for workers without sick leave, reports SBS News.

Victorian workers will be able to access the payment designed to give workers the financial capability to stay home while isolating.
Unions have called for a national scheme to prevent outbreaks driven by people going to work when sick or waiting for test results.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was an option for other States to receive the money.

Under a federal-state agreement, the Commonwealth pays for Australian residents and citizens while the Victorian Government picks up the bill for short-term visa holders.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston encouraged premiers and chief ministers to ask to join the scheme if their situation warrants it. "If other states and territories want to avail themselves of the same service then please come forward," she told Sky News. "We're very open to discussions with them."

The Federal Opposition argues the Government has been too slow to act, finally moving on pandemic leave five months after it was first called for.

"The point of paid pandemic leave, and why we've been calling for it for some time, was to prevent community transmission," Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.

"No one should be in a circumstance whereby they feel compelled to go to work because they don't have other options of financial support."

As recently as this week, the ANMF (SA Branch) joined with SA Unions representatives to advocate directly to the SA Treasurer for these pandemic payments to be extended to SA, as necessary. In addition, we raised, and will continue to advocate for COVID-19 to be presumed to be contracted in the course of employment for the purposes of Workers Compensation coverage.