Are There Various "Pension" In Australia (Public Aid)

I watch the old Australian soap opera Prisoner (Prisoner: Cell Block H) and they always talk about certain “pensions” on it.

It seems to be government assistance.

OK if the character is young and single, they apply for “the dole.” Since it’s done through the CES (Commonwealth Employment Service), I assume this is some kind of work scheme, you have to register to work and get money till you find some.

But I also hear things like “Old age pension,” “Single mother’s pension,” “Deserted Wives Pension,” “University Student Pension”

My question is are these actual payments or programs or are they simply other ways of saying “the dole.”

I will add this show ran from 1979 - 1986 so the information I am viewing could easily be outdated.

The dole indicates your looking for work whilst a pension indicated you can’t work. The CES used to help people find a job and handle the dole but nowadays Centrelink handle the welfare aspect and job searching has been farmed out to private enterprise for the most part.

They are just names for various forms of social security/welfare

Yes, although there are plenty of people who have been on the dole their entire adult lives, with only brief periods of employment.

The are specific payment programs. Both the amount payed, the fringe benefits and the requirements vary for all of them.

The age pension is pretty much what it says. Once you reach a certain age you get payed a pittance for the rest of your life, provided your are below a certain asset limit. Its about enough to starve on, though slightly more than the dole. I t also comes with a few other fringe benefits like a limited amount of free public transport and unlimited discount transport rates. As with all the welfare payments it also comes with subsidised medical and pharmaceutical and access to (very) limited legal assistance and a few other perks.

Single mother’s pension (Technical supporting parents IIRC) is pretty much what it says. If you are a sole parent you get a paid an allowance, about the same as the pension. Technically you are supposed to be looking for work as well, but practically there’s no real need to do so.

The “University Student Pension” has been renamed, and these days is the same amount as the dole, with a few supplements for textbooks etc. There’s no need to be looking for work so long as you are studying fill-time *and *passing.

Deserted wives pension I have never heard of. I doubt that it still exists. Divorcees are either going to looking for work, and hence on the dole, or caring for children, and so on the single parents pension.

It’s a little outdated, but the basic systems hasn’t changed much.

Oddly the CES never handled the dole. They were only a very ineffective employment agency. While you needed to be registered with the CES, the actual payments has always been handled by Centrelink (called Department of Social Security in the days when CES still existed).

On the show the character was released from the prison or at the halfway house and was told to register for work at the CES and as long as your there apply for the dole. So that’s how I thought the two were connected.

Yes, the two are connected. Basically, to get unemployment benefits in Australia you need to be unemployed, available to work, and actively looking for work. So, if you aren’t registered with one of the employment services that took over from CES in 1998, you won’t get the dole.

ETA: And there’s an income test too, of course. I was unemployed for about 6 months in Australia around 1997, but since my wife was working, I wouldn’t have got the dole, so I did not register with the CES. My job skills were specialised enough that I pretty well knew anyone in Australia who might have a job that I could take, anyway, so there was no point.

The information you have is HUGELY outdated.

CES stopped existing in the mid 90s. CES and DSS were merged into Centrelink, who manage all social welfare payments and still do engage in some jobseeking assistance. However the majority of jobseeker assistance (Training, job search & resume support and so on) is handled by external agencies.

There are different layers and rates of payments. “The Dole” as such doesn’t exist any more. There’s Youth Allowance, which is paid to people between the ages of 16-20 if they are studying and/or looking for work, or up to 24 years old if they’re currently engaged in an apprenticeship.

Newstart Allowance is “jobseekers allowance” for anyone over the age of 20. You are required to show proof of actively looking for work and you can be breached if you are offered a job and refuse to take it. This is problematic for people who are highly qualified, because you can be breached and cut off from benefits if you don’t apply for or refuse to accept a McJob if you’re offered it, even if you’re overqualified for that work.

Aged Pension is exactly what it sounds like.

Disability Pension is available for people who are diagnosed with a specific long-term illness that will cause them to be out of work for more than 2 years.

If you have a shorter term illness that will still require you to take an extended period of time off work, there is a Sickness Allowance that you can apply for as a stopgap solution. However it doesn’t pay as much as you’d earn at work in a lot of situations.

There is no such thing as a “Single Mothers’ Pension” any more. It’s the Sole Parent Pension, which is full support for a single parent (male or female) who is not working due to their requirements to look after their children. There are a range of child payments and tax breaks for working parents and/or partnered parents as well. But once your child is 16 (aka old enough to receive youth allowance) all of those payments cease.

There’s also a range of concessions for transport and utilities that are available to people on pensions. There are also other payments available to Aboriginals and Torres Strait islanders, as well as refugees and other “at risk” groups, as well as carers and the bereaved, widows and partners of people on support payments.

One older Australian I know here says he can’t get a pension because he lives outside of Australia. So residency must be a requirement. But I know other older Australians who live here do get theirs, so maybe they use their children’s address back home?

It’s hard to comment on without knowing their particular circumstances. If they “live” in Bangkok, but keep property in Australia and spend a certain amount of time in AU each year they may still qualify.

Is it definitely Centrelink aged pensions that they’re getting as well? Because it could also be superannuation pensions, or pensions from being in the military, the police or the public service, all of which have pensions available after a certain number of years and which are not limited by residency requirements.

The person I was referring to is settled in a small village up North and never seems to go to Australia at all. He’s about mid-60s, maybe pushing 70.