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Social Security and WelfareBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Australia - Social Security and Welfare
Australia has a vast array of benefits and allowances which are available for various reasons and the details can be found on the Centrelink website and further advice can be obtained from their enquiry centre.
Australia does have some international social security agreements in place with other countries so that their citizens can continue to claim benefits while making the move to Australia. Agreements are currently in place with a number of European nations including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Other countries with agreements include Chile, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the USA. Australia is also negotiating agreements with several other countries. The agreement that was in place for the UK expired in 2001 and those who are claiming benefits in the UK before they move will need to liaise with the UK government department of work and pensions prior to their move. These agreements cover pensions, carer’s allowance and payments for single parents.
Under the terms of the agreements each country will pay part of the pension but amounts will vary depending upon your entitlement in your home country. If you need to claim pension monies under the terms of one of these agreements then you can apply via Centrelink.
Benefits can be paid in a number of categories. If you need to care for an elderly or sick person you may be able to claim an allowance for this and there are benefits if you are unemployed, in cases of bereavement, if you are sick or if you are retired. A complete list of benefits, along with the details of who may qualify and how much you can expect as a payment, is available from the Centrelink website. There are telephone numbers listed for all the different departments of the organisation.
The general social security system is not financed by separate contributions from individuals but it is taken from general taxes. Contributions are payable for retirement, death and invalidity benefits as well as the Medicare system. If you earn at least $450 each month and are over the age of 18 but under the age of 70 your employer will need to pay a minimum of 9% in ‘super’, which is short for superannuation. This needs to be placed in a retirement savings account or fund which has been chosen by the worker. The contributions are set to rise each year until 2019 which will have a minimum payment of 12%.
It is also possible for the worker to make voluntary contributions. Concessional contributions of up to $50,000 each year can be made by the worker and these are taxed at a rate of 15%. Non-concessional contributions of up to $150,000 from income that has already been taxed can be made. If you are self employed then contributions to such a fund do not need to be made, but many will choose to begin a super fund in order to save for retirement.
The social security system gives those with residency status access to the Medicare health system. Taxpayers have to pay a levy for this system, which works out at 1.5% of gross income. Those who have certain medical conditions may be able to apply for some exemptions and those who are not officially residents in the country are not able to take advantage of the Medicare system.
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