Coronavirus Grants and Payments for Sex Workers

 

Is the Sex Industry Eligible for Special Coronavirus Grants and Payments?

Special coronavirus grants and payments are temporary or one off payments to individuals or businesses above and beyond what is normally offered by Centrelink and other government agencies. In 2020, two examples of special coronavirus payments were the now ceased Jobkeeper and Jobseeker supplement payment. Special coronavirus grants and payments can be made to individuals or businesses and the money can come from either the Victorian Government or the Commonwealth Government.

COVID Disaster Payment

Weekly payments paid by the Commonwealth Government to individual workers in Victoria. Amounts range from $200/week to $750/week depending on your individual circumstances. Eligibility criteria stipulate that you must:

  •  be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or hold an eligible working visa
  • live in an area impacted by more than 7 days of coronavirus lockdown (this applies to Victoria)
  • be unable to work and earn income as a result of a state lockdown (this would apply to sex workers and strippers in Victoria)
  • not be eligible for Victorian Government business support payments

This payment is of most relevance to sex workers as you can still be eligible if:

  • you are a sole trader (self-employed)
  • you are not registered for GST
  • you already receive Centrelink payments (such as Newstart or Youth Allowance)
  • you aren’t already receiving Centrelink payments

Payment amounts are $200/week if you already receive other Centrelink benefits or $375-$750/week if you do not already receive Centrelink benefits. Applications must go through your MyGov account and can take up to seven days to process. The Australian Taxation Office has confirmed COVID Disaster Payments are non-taxable payments and that they do not need to be included on your tax return.

Read more about eligibility criteria

Extreme Hardship Support Program

An $800 payment from the Victorian Government to single people (families receive a higher amount) can be made directly into your bank account. The payment is open to the following people:

  • Workers in all occupations, including sex workers
  • Those who are NOT eligible to receive Centrelink payments
  • Those living in Victoria only
  • Those with zero, or very limited income
  • Temporary or provisional visa holders, or undocumented migrants

The program runs until October 2021. 

Read more about eligibility criteria

(scroll down to ‘Extreme Hardship Support Program’)

  1. Victorian Government’s Coronavirus websitesection titled Extreme Hardship Support Program
  2. Victorian Government document titled, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Extreme Hardship Support Program: Frequently asked Questions for People in the Community (reviewed on 31 August, 2021)

Available at

https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/financial-and-other-support-coronavirus-covid-19

(accessed on 3 September, 2021)

3. Victorian Government media release dated 7 June 2021, No One Left Behind: More Support For Victorians In Need

© Sex Work Law Reform Victoria 2021

Last updated: 4 September 2021