Financial Assistance for stranded Australian's
Financial Assistance for Australians Stranded Abroad
By Daniel Hackett
As many of you will be aware, there are currently tens of thousands of Australians stuck overseas, including many here in the UAE, due to the travel restrictions and caps on Australian citizens being able to return to home. Meanwhile, the costs of actually returning home are astronomical with airlines currently charging around 50% higher than normal prices (at time of writing) due to the current supply shortfall.
It’s been awhile coming then, but thankfully the Australian Government stepped in recently to provide some much-needed financial support with loans and grants to assist Australian families stuck abroad with both living costs and/or a return flight to Australia. The key difference between a grant and a loan, is that a grant does not need to be paid back - if you’re an Australian pension holder, you may be eligible for this grant, along with children under 18 yrs of age.
Here are two loan types:
- Living Costs
This is a once-off payment in the form of a loan designed to assist you and your family with covering emergency living costs until a flight becomes available for you to return to Australia. The amount that you’re eligible to receive depends on the size of your family and is outlined in the table below:
- Flight/s Back to Australia
This is a once-off payment to help you to cover a portion of the cost of your flight back to Australia. The amount is equivalent to a standard one-way economy class ticket from the region that you’re currently in. The amounts are outlined in the table below:
The Australian Government will pay for the difference between the economy class component and the remaining cost of the ticket.
The eligibility criteria for each of the above loans / grants is very strict, and you must also be able to demonstrate that your genuine intention is to return to Australia as soon as you’re able to do so.
You will be eligible to apply for either of the loans providing you meet the following criteria:
- are an Australian citizen
- If you’re an Australian permanent resident, you may be eligible to receive funding if an immediate family member who is an Australian citizen applies on your behalf.
- If the only Australian citizen in the family is a child, other links to Australia will need to be identified before a loan can be approved (e.g. Australian residential property).
- are at least 18 years of age
- have made all reasonable efforts to seek financial assistance through other means. You’ll need to provide evidence of this. See examples of documentation under ‘The application process’ section.
In addition, you and/or the immediate family member over 18 years of age you’re applying on behalf of, need to meet one or more of the following criteria. You:
- are overseas temporarily and want to return to Australia urgently for medical or other reasons
- are in financial distress as a result of the travel disruptions caused by COVID-19
- require financial assistance to shelter in place until you can secure a seat, or purchase a ticket to return to Australia
- are in a location with restricted or no available commercial airlines operating.
If you do meet the eligibility criteria and wish to apply for assistance, the application process is outlined below:
Step 1: Completing the online form
Please do note that you will need to have the following supporting documentation for identification and to demonstrate financial hardship as part of your application process:
- Passport copy
- Evidence of your income such as payslips / bank statements
- Evidence of your savings
- Confirmation that insurance won’t cover your costs
- Confirmation of any Australian pension being received
- Evidence of your accommodation costs
- Evidence of tickets previously purchased demonstrating you’ve tried to return to Australia
Step 2: Email Response
Within 72 hours of lodging your application, you’ll receive an email response outlining whether you’ve been successful. This will include the forms to complete including one to outline the bank details where you’d like the funds to be sent.
Step 3: Payment
Once the forms have been returned to the team, your payment will be processed within 72 hours and will be available in your bank account once the bank has processed this.
Step 4: Repayment of the Loan
Under the conditions of the scheme, the loan should be repaid within 6 months of your return to Australia. If you’re continuing to experience financial hardship, you can enter into a payment plan to repay the loan, but you must ensure that this is entered into within 6 months of your return.
If you would like to read further information about these available loans / grants, please head to the Smart Traveller website here – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19/covid-19-overseas-financial-assistance.
Please feel free to share this with friends or family in need. If you are one of the unlucky Australians stuck overseas, I wish you a safe and happy return.
+971 526 183 781
Daniel is an Australian qualified Financial Adviser who has been serving Australian Expats in Abu Dhabi since 2016. Daniel works under both UAE and Australian Financial Licenses (the only adviser in Abu Dhabi with this distinction), providing a truly holistic service for his clients.