Massive Queues Begin Outside Centrelink Offices As MyGov Website Crashes
Thousands of people in Australia have queued outside their local Centrelink this morning to access much needed money during the coronavirus pandemic.
All non-essential services like gyms, pubs, cinemas and places of worship have been ordered to shut down to limit the number of infections in the country.
As a result, loads of Australians have now found themselves unemployed and will need to access some form of government welfare.
Thousands of people outside @Centrelink offices across Victoria this morning. This was just half of the line at Abbotsford. Many have been queuing since 8am... @10NewsFirst pic.twitter.com/tXlV6gl44E
- Kristina Costalos (@kcostalos) March 22, 2020
To make matters worse, the myGov website - where you're able to submit applications for services like Newstart - crashed this morning.
While the website was technically fine, according to Government Services Minister Stuart Robert, it was unable to deal with the 'unprecedented' demand.
Services Australia, which looks after Centrelink, has posted an update on social media, calling for calm during the rush.
The line to Centrelink Bondi Junction. It wraps around almost every corner of the block. @9NewsSyd #COVID19Aus #centrelink pic.twitter.com/tyCsuxwb6R
- Hannah Sinclair (@hansinclair9) March 22, 2020
"We're experiencing very high demand across all services," the statement said.
"We're getting lots of questions about coronavirus and what we're doing to support the community. Please consider the health and safety of our customers and staff and do not visit our service centres unless there's a critical need for you to be there.
"If you're already getting a payment that is eligible for the Economic Support Payment or the Coronavirus Supplement, you do not need to do anything, you'll get paid automatically. Please do not call or visit us.
"If you don't currently get an income support payment and you need help because you've lost your job or had your income reduced, please start your claim online.
"If you need to provide proof of identity and you're in self-isolation or feeling unwell we can do this over the phone - but please defer until later if you can. We urge you not to come into our service centres if you're unwell.
"We're working hard to respond here so please understand it will take a little longer than usual. We're also getting a lot of the same questions, so be sure to read through other posts to see if your question has been answered."
The government has announced it would effectively double the Newstart (also called the Jobseeker Allowance) payment amid the virus outbreak.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "The normal rules aren't going to apply here, we want to make sure people are there on the other side."
People on the payment will get an extra $550 a fortnight, meaning recipients can get up to $1,115.70 every two weeks.
In order to keep up with demand, the normal waiting period to be accepted has been dumped, however you'll still have to do an income test.
It's a part of the government's new $66 billion stimulus package to ensure the Australian economy doesn't tank during the coronavirus pandemic.
Featured Image Credit: Gary Houston (Creative Commons)