JobSeeker and other support.

JobSeeker and other support.

Coronavirus supplement
The Coronavirus supplement will continue, albeit on a reduced rate of $250 per fortnight (from $550), from 25 September until 31 December 2020 for eligible individuals.

  • From 27 April to 24 September 2020 you will receive $550 per fortnight
  • From 25 September to 31 December 2020 you will receive $250 per fortnight

Eligibility remains the same. That is, those receiving:

  • JobSeeker Payment (and all payments transitioning as a result of JobSeeker Payment)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Eligible New Enterprise Incentive Scheme participants
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Education Schemes

Note: eligibility criteria and some of the tests for access to income support is changing.

Eligibility and access
The expanded eligibility criteria for the Jobseeker Payment and the Youth Allowance Jobseeker will continue to apply until 31 December 2020:

  • Permanent employees who have been stood down or lost their jobs (and are not receiving payments from an employer or through insurance),
  • Sole traders, the self-employed, casuals or contractors who meet the income and assets tests.

In addition, if you receive JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payments, the amount you can earn before impacting income support has been increased to $300 per fortnight from 25 September 2020 until 31 December 2020. However, a number of restrictions have been reintroduced.

Reintroduction of assets and partner income tests
From 25 September 2020, the assets test and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period (applies to those with assets such as cash savings worth over $5,500 for singles or $11,000 for singles with children and partnered people) will be reintroduced for access to income support payments.

In addition, partner income testing will resume from 25 September, albeit with higher thresholds than those pre coronavirus. That is, you will not be eligible for income support if you are not earning an income but your partner earns $3,086.11 per fortnight or $80,238.89 per annum. The partner income test taper rate will increase from 25 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $996 per fortnight to 27 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $1,165 per fortnight.

Reintroduction of job seeking requirements
Job seeking requirements that were suspended from 24 March 2020 have been introduced from 9 June 2020. The mutual obligation requirements include:

  • Voluntary job searches
  • At least one phone or online appointment with a jobseeker’s employment services provider
  • Voluntary participation in activities, either online or in person, and
  • No payment suspensions or penalties for failure to comply.

Waiting periods continue to be waived
Some waiting periods for access to income support will continue to be waived until 31 December 2020:

  • The one-week ordinary waiting period is waived.
  • The newly arrived resident’s waiting period for new migrants (previously four years). Claimants will still need to meet residency requirements, that is they will need to hold a permanent visa. Affected claimants will need to serve the remainder of this waiting period at the end of the period the Coronavirus Supplement is paid for.
  • The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period for those who are eligible for the Coronavirus supplement -this applies to those who finished seasonal, contract or intermittent work in the six months prior to claiming income support.

Further, if you need assistance regarding any of the Governments stimulus packages please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

Read More
Working from Home Shortcut Method Extended by the ATO.

Working from Home Shortcut Method Extended by the ATO.

The ATO introduced the shortcut method in April to help taxpayers track their working from home expenses as COVID-19 forced many to adopt remote working practices. The new temporary 80 cents per hour method will now be extended.

This scheme was originally intended to run from 1 March to 30 June 2020, but due to current work patterns not yet returning to normal and as Melbourne reimpose lockdown restrictions, the ATO has decided to extend this shortcut method to 30 September 2020.

The ATO has noted that it may extend the new method beyond 30 September 2020, depending on when work patterns begin to return to normal. Note records of the hours worked at home in the form of a timesheet or diary are needed to claim the shortcut method.

The temporary shortcut method will continue to be supplementary to the 52 cents fixed-rate method and the actual cost method of calculating running expenses.

For more download our working from home guide.

Further, if you need assistance deciding how best to claim your working from home tax expenses this year please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

Read More
Why do men feel so alone?

Why do men feel so alone?

I was reading an article yesterday written by Professor Sarah Niblock, CEO of the United Kingdom (UK) Council for Psychotherapy. According to Niblock, a survey was conducted during the month of ‘Movember’ in 2019, in which men were asked whether they had people outside their homes they could confide in about their worries. Half said they had two or fewer friends and one in eight had none. In the context of the UK, this meant that 2.5 million men had no close friends. Even worse is that men’s friendlessness trebles between their 20s and late middle age, said Niblock.

This got me wondering about the stats in Australia, not to mention how they have been impacted by Covid-19 landing on our shores a few months ago. Given isolation has been shown to have both physical and mental health implications, this is vital information to be aware of. In fact, research shows that loneliness is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and there is a correlation between loneliness and coronary heart disease, strokes and depression.

In 2014, Beyond Blue published that almost 25% of Australian men aged 30-65 (~1 million) were at risk of isolation. Around 25% had no one outside of their immediate family to rely on; 61% had lost contact with more friends than they would have liked to and 50% of men rarely talked about deeply personal issues even if they did have friends. Relationships Australia (2018), showed that men tend to report higher levels of loneliness than women and the stats are on the incline.

According to a June 2020 article published by Human Resources Director, ‘on average, one in eight men experiences depression and one in five faces anxieties at some stage in their life. This can lead to devastating results, with men accounting for six out of eight suicides on average each day in Australia.

Moreover, the economic impact of COVID-19 has heightened many men’s anxiety around securing income and the weight of responsibility for protecting family members with 62.1% of men expressing anxiety during the pandemic.  Some men may be unable to work from home, and therefore may feel at risk of contracting the virus at work, while others may be feeling isolated and miss the social connection offices provide’.

But why do so many men find it difficult to put up their hand if they are struggling or feeling lonely?  A common theme I see in the work I do is that many men feel they have to be self-reliant. Statements like ‘Suck it up’ and’ Don’t cry like a girl’ frequently litter their childhood memories. Admitting they have a problem, expressing their deepest feelings or discussing a serious personal topic can be viewed as a sign of weakness for men, and so many men don’t venture there. Instead, they bottle it up and put on a brave face for as long as they can. When it comes to stress levels, bottled up emotions are a sure way to switch on their fight, flight or freeze response resulting in detrimental short and long term effects on their health, physically, mentally and emotionally.

The way we were raised can have a significant impact on how we view loneliness. For some men, it is often challenging to recognise feelings of loneliness in the first place. The differences in how boys and girls behave are not hardwired at birth, rather embedded through how we are socialised. Boys ‘don’t cry’ is a social construct, not a behavioural one. Typically, girls were allowed to express their feelings and cry if they were upset or frustrated. This was seen as acceptable by parents and teachers and part of being a girl. This meant girls learnt to talk about their feelings, express themselves, and these verbal skills were valued by adults in their lives. Boys, in contrast, were more likely to be shut down, which for many, resulted in an inability to express and talk about their emotions. Particularly if they are struggling, feeling vulnerable or lonely.

Having a partner and a family can help ward off the negative effects of loneliness, but what if a man’s personal circumstances change? After a relationship break up, a bereavement or the need to isolate due to Covid-19, some men find their friends may drift away, and they have no one to talk to. Social media can play some part in reconnecting; however, it does not replace face to face connection. Social activities such as playing a team sport are also not for everyone, and if a man is already feeling lonely and isolated, their confidence may be too low to enter these environments and connect over a shared interest. And then there is the danger of self-medicating to overcome their loneliness. In some male-dominated social environments drinking alcohol is encouraged, which in the short term may provide some solace; however, in the long run, may exacerbate the mental health effects of isolation.  So, what are some of the things men can do to help avoid loneliness in the first place?

Start with small talk.
Yes, I know. I sometimes feel like I would rather donate a kidney than have to engage in small talk; however, it can play a big part in breaking the ice. Try making small talk with someone who is in the same takeaway coffee queue or when zapping your lunch in the work lunchroom if you are back in the office. Yes, it will probably feel awkward at first, but these small conversations can help you feel less alone and isolated. A short chat with a fellow co-worker may become a beer after work on a Friday.

Mix with like-minded people
Think about what you are into – music, sport, books, video games. Maybe there is a club near you where you can meet up with like-minded people. Another option is Meetup, which is free and designed to bring people together who enjoy similar things or activities. Fitness, sport, photography, dancing…pretty much anything.

Get moving
Not only does exercise help us stay fit and is an excellent short-term stress management strategy, but it is also a way to meet new people. The good thing about sport and exercise is that it occurs regularly, so there is less pressure to make a good impression at a one-time meeting. Perhaps you have a friend that enjoys walking or a game of golf. Give them a call and meet up with them for a quick 9 or 18 holes.

Online connection
Although research shows that face to face relationships are better, connecting online may be the first step. Whether you are chatting with someone, playing your favourite game or directly contributing to a group chat with like-minded people, connecting online is a great way to battle loneliness. It may also build your confidence to take the step into joining face to face. You have already built up a rapport online and learnt something about them as a person.

Make plans
When we are feeling very lonely and feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel, we might become antisocial without even realising it. Before we know it, we are turning down opportunities to hang out. Challenge yourself to get out and be sociable at least once a week. Plan it in your schedule, so you don’t forget, and you can work your time around it. Maybe SMS that friend that you haven’t spoken to in a long time or have lost touch with. They will probably be happy to hear from you.

Fly solo
If asking someone to have a beer with you is just not your thing, why not head to a local spot and hang out with a good book or magazine. Find a place where you feel comfortable to relax, such as at your local café, a shopping centre or your local library. The first couple of times may feel a tad awkward, and you may think that people are eyeballing you, but they probably aren’t. A regular chill spot also creates an excellent opportunity to meet new people. Turning up on a regular basis will allow you to meet other regulars, and you might spark up a conversation.

Start journaling
Not all of us are into journaling; however, research shows that processing your emotions by writing them down is a great way to battle loneliness. It will also help you to become clearer on where your head is at. You can scribble your thoughts in a notebook, jot down some lyrics, or collect your thoughts in a word document on your laptop. Try the journaling app called Day One if this is something you think may be useful to you.

Care for a pet
Talk about unconditional love! Animals are a great way to make us feel connected and cared for. Pets, especially cats and dogs, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and ease loneliness. You don’t have to own a pet, try pet minding if you don’t want the long term responsibility. Walking your neighbour’s dog occasionally could be an option, and you may even meet a fellow animal lover.

Give back
Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your local community and do something meaningful. Countless charities need volunteers, and Govolunteer.com.au is a great place to start looking for opportunities near you.

Seek Support
For those of you who despite trying different strategies to connect still feel lonely, get some professional support. A doctor, a psychologist, a counsellor or a psychotherapist. If you need it, your doctor can help you complete a mental health plan that will enable you to access counselling services or visit a psychologist. It’s okay to get the support you need.

There are also several support programs specifically designed to support men’s loneliness.

  1. Australian Men’s Shed Association– mensshed.org. It’s all in the name – the Men’s Shed Association is all about building, whether it’s furniture or friendships. With over 985 locations around Australia, chances are there’s a shed near you.
  2. Men’s Line – https://www.mensline.org.au/. Men’s Line is a phone and online support service that offers ‘male-friendly’ counselling that can ensure your privacy and anonymity. It also features an active forum where men come together to give each other advice, guidance and support.
  3. Man Therapy – https://www.mantherapy.org.au. Man Therapy is an initiative by Beyond Blue to help men understand and respond to their depression. Described as a toolkit, it gives men strategies and guidance on how to approach and cope with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Don’t forget that everyone has times when they feel lonely. Taking even just a few of the steps above can help reduce your isolation and should help you start to feel better.

Author: Dr Leanne Wall (BSc. MBBCh. Grad. Dip Counselling)
email: leanne@drleannewall.com
website: www.drleannewall.com

Read More
The ATO are watching.

The ATO are watching.

As written about in December 2019, the progression of technology is now assisting the ATO to ensure compliance among business and personal tax and superannuation obligations and to assist in detecting fraud. For the full article, please click here.

This month the ATO will begin to supply Services Australia with a list of all employees nominated for JobKeeper by an eligible employer to cross-check with Services Australia’s list of social security customers and claimants. The cross-reference of these two databases will allow identification of the population of people who may be registered for the JobKeeper program and social security payments.

Individuals receiving JobKeeper ($1,500 per fortnight) from their employers may be earning above the income cut-off and unable to also be entitled to a social security payment. Once these individuals are identified as not correctly declaring their JobKeeper income, they will be contacted and reminded of their reporting obligations.

Example correspondence from Services Australia will read, “The Australian Taxation Office has given us information that you may be receiving JobKeeper payment. The JobKeeper payment may change the amount of Centrelink support you are receiving. It is important that you report any income you and or your partner get from your employer(s); this includes the JobKeeper payment. If you don’t report all your income, we may pay you too much and you may have a debt to pay back.”

If the customer does not provide the required information within a reasonable timeframe the agency may suspend or cancel the customer’s social security payment.

This data-matching program is expected to run until October at a minimum however may be extended with the rollout of JobKeeper 2.0.

If you have any questions, please reach out to our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or by email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

Read More
The $2.5bn JobTrainer Package.

The $2.5bn JobTrainer Package.

This month the Government announced the $2.5bn JobTrainer package to retrain, upskill and open new job opportunities.

JobTrainer for job seekers and school leavers

An additional 340,700 training places will be created to provide no or low cost courses into sectors with job opportunities. The Government is working with the States and Territories to develop a list of qualifications and skill sets to be covered by the program.

JobTrainer for employers

The JobTrainer package has expanded the number of businesses that can access the 50% apprentice wage subsidy and extends the subsidy until 31 March 2021 (from 30 September 2020).

Originally, only businesses with less than 20 employees or larger employers employing apprentices/trainees let go by a small business were able to access the subsidy (for wages paid to apprentices employed by them as at 1 March 2020).

Now, businesses with under 200 employees can access the subsidy for apprentices employed from 1 July 2020. Employers will be reimbursed 50% of an eligible apprentice’s wage up to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter per apprentice.

Employers will be able to access the subsidy after an assessment by the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.

Eligibility

Small business – claims open now
· Employ fewer than 20 people, or
· A small business with fewer than 20 people, using a Group Training Organisation, and
· the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship with you on 1 July 2020 for claims after this date. Claims prior to 1 July 2020, will continue to be based on the 1 March 2020 eligibility date.

Medium Business – claims open on 1 October 2020
· Employ 199 people or fewer, or
· A medium sized business with 199 people or fewer, using a Group Training Organisation, and
· the apprentice or trainee was undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship with you on 1 July 2020.

You will need to provide evidence of wages paid to the apprentice. If the business subsequently is unable to retain the apprentice, another business can access the incentive if they then employ and pay wages to the apprentice.

Final claims for payment must be lodged by 30 June 2021.

How does the apprenticeship subsidy and JobKeeper work together?

They don’t. It is one or the other.

An employer will not be eligible to claim the apprentice wage subsidy for any period where they choose to claim the JobKeeper payment for the same apprentice.

An employer or Group Training Organisation will not be eligible for the JobKeeper payment where the employer is in receipt of an Australian Government wage subsidy for the same Australian Apprentice (for example Supporting Apprentices and Trainees and the Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy).

Finally, if you need assistance regarding any of the Governments stimulus packages please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

Read More

SIGN UP

For our free e-newsletter

TAKE A HEALTH CHECK

For our free e-newsletter

Personal