7.1 As discussed in Chapter 5, certain requirements must be met before a person is qualified for a social security payment or entitlement. Once a person is qualified, however, it may not be payable unless certain additional criteria are met—known as ‘payability’ criteria. Family violence is relevant to various qualification and payability requirements—such as proof of identity, residence, and activity and participation requirements attached to certain social security payments—in a number of ways.

7.2 First, accessing proof of identity documents or tax file numbers may place the safety of a victim of family violence in jeopardy if required to return to a violent home or to contact the person using family violence.

7.3 Secondly, residence requirements may mean that certain visa holders or newly arrived residents are unable to access independent financial assistance through the social security system and therefore may not have adequate financial support to enable them to leave a violent relationship.

7.4 Thirdly, requirements such as activity tests, participation requirements and other administrative requirements may be too onerous for a victim of family violence to meet. In addition, if a person does not meet these requirements, it may result in his or her social security payment or entitlement being suspended, and therefore excluded from any independent financial assistance. Activity tests and participation requirements therefore need to be flexible and responsive to an individual job seeker’s needs—including if experiencing family violence—and exemptions available where a victim of family violence is unable to meet their activity or participation requirements.

7.5 In this chapter, the ALRC considers how the qualification and payability requirements could be improved to protect the safety of victims of family violence. In doing so, the ALRC is seeking to balance the integrity of the social security system with the need to enhance the safety of victims of family violence. The ALRC therefore makes proposals in relation to residence requirements—ensuring that where appropriate, certain subclasses of visas are able to access Special Benefit. The ALRC also seeks guidance from stakeholders as to what other reforms may be necessary to residence requirements to maintain this balance.

7.6 Finally, the ALRC makes a number of proposals to ensure that a person’s experience of family violence is adequately considered in:

  • the negotiation and revision of a person’s requirements for activity-tested social security payments; and
  • the granting of exemptions from such requirements.