Recently, a new hoax e-mail, which claims that that illegal immigrants and refugees receive higher rates of payment under a number of Centrelink programs, has been circulated. Anyone receiving these hoax emails should delete them and inform the person who forwarded the email that the information it contains is false.
Myth: Refugees can receive social security payments simply because they are refugees.
Fact: A refugee who has permanent residency in Australia receives exactly the same social security benefit as any Australian-born person in the same circumstances. Refugees apply for social security through Centrelink like everyone else and are assessed for the different payment options in the same way as everyone else. There are no separate Centrelink allowances that one can receive simply by virtue of being a refugee, nor do refugees receive cash payments under either the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS) or the Settlement Grants Program (SGP).
Myth: A single refugee receives $1458 more per month than an age pensioner.
Fact: A single person applying for Special Benefit or the Newstart Allowance (whether or not he or she is a refugee) will receive $456 per fortnight, whereas a single person on an Age Pension payment will receive a fortnightly payment of $671.90. A single age pensioner therefore receives over $200 more per fortnight more than a single refugee (or a single Australian-born person) who qualifies for Special Benefit or Newstart – not $1458 per month less, as claimed in the first hoax email. Australian citizens and permanent residents with dependent children on lower to middle incomes (including refugees) may also be eligible to receive Family Tax Benefits or Parenting Payments, however none of these allowances are paid at a higher rate than the single age pension.
Myth: Refugees receive higher rates of payment under Centrelink programs than age pensioners or other Australians.
Fact: Centrelink payments are calculated at exactly the same rate for both refugees and non-refugees (for instance, a single Australian-born person and a single refugee on the Newstart allowance would both receive exactly the same fortnightly payment of $456). The hoax e-mail which claims that illegal immigrants and refugees receive higher rates of payment than age pensioners under a number of Centrelink programs, including the Partner Allowance and the Hardship Allowance, quotes figures which are grossly inaccurate. For instance, a single person on an Age Pension payment receives a fortnightly payment of $671.90, not $253 as claimed in the email, and the maximum payment for the Partner Allowance is $411.50, not $472.50.
Myth: Asylum seekers can receive Centrelink payments.
Fact: Asylum seekers are not entitled to the same forms of financial support as citizens or permanent residents. The Asylum Seeker Assistance (ASA) Scheme provides assistance to eligible asylum seekers who are in the process of having their refugee status determined. The ASA Scheme offers income support to cover basic living expenses, paid at 89 per cent of the Centrelink Special Benefit. This would equal approximately $405.84 per fortnight for a single asylum seeker – over $260 less than the single age pension.
Myth: Illegal immigrants can receive Centrelink payments.
Fact: In general, only Australian citizens and permanent residents can receive social security payments from Centrelink and illegal immigrants would certainly not be entitled to such support. It is also factually incorrect to refer to either refugees or asylum seekers as "illegal immigrants". Recognised refugees in Australia by definition hold either a Refugee Visa or a Protection Visa, both of which entitle the holder to permanent residency. Asylum seekers – regardless of how they arrive in Australia – are permitted under Australian and international law to enter Australia for the purpose of seeking asylum, therefore asylum seekers have not broken any law and should not be referred to as illegal immigrants.
Statements about the hoax emails have been issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Minister for Human Services. These statements can be viewed at the following URLs:
Payment rates for the Age Pension can be viewed here:
Payment rates for the Newstart Allowance can be viewed here (note that Special Benefit is usually calculated at the same rate as Newstart):
Payment rates for Family Tax Benefits and Parenting Payments can be viewed at the following URLs:
Payment rates for the Partner Allowance can be viewed here:
Information on Hardship payments can be viewed here:
Information on the IHSS, the SGP and the ASA Scheme can be found at the following URLs: