Federal Budget 2018: Migrants face four-year wait for welfare

Migrants could be forced to wait up to four years before accessing a raft of welfare benefits under a federal budget measure expected to net more than $200 million in savings.

The Turnbull government already has legislation before parliament to push the waiting period for various payments out to three years.

Migrant and community groups have pushed back hard against the move, fearing it could push some new arrivals into destitution and poverty.

Migrants could be forced to wait up to four years before accessing a raft of welfare benefits. Source: AAP

But now the government is proposing to stretch the wait time for migrants wanting to access Newstart and Youth Allowance – as well as various parenting and family benefits – out to four years from July 1.

It expects this will save $202.5 million over five years.

Exemptions for vulnerable groups and humanitarian entrants will continue to apply, while hardship provisions will also remain in place.

The budget includes $5 million for community organisations to help newly-arrived migrants integrate.

The government is now proposing to stretch the wait time for migrants wanting to access Newstart and Youth Allowance – as well as various parenting and family benefits – out to four years. Source: AAP

Meanwhile time limits for migrants aged under 18 to extend their English tuition classes will also be removed from July 1.

Newly-arrived migrants are offered up to 510 hours of free English language tuition to help them to participate in Australian life.

The budget also confirms religious organisations will be excused from chipping into a “Skilled Australians Fund” – a levy for employers who seek out foreign-skilled workers to fill temporary shortages.