Centrelink payments for people affected by natural disasters fact sheet

Financial assistance available

The Department of Human Services Special Assistance Schemes assist eligible Australian residents and others who are directly or indirectly affected by natural disasters.

This assistance is for health-related out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare services, other government programs, private travel or health insurance.

People affected by a natural disaster may be eligible for the one-off Australian Government Disaster Recovery payment (AGDRP) and also for the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS), which is payable over 13 weeks. There are significant differences in the residence criteria for the two payments.

The DIRS is available to all those who can demonstrate they have lost income as a result of the disaster.

The AGDRP is only available to Australian residents and to certain people who are "covered by a determination made by a Minister".

Crisis Payment is a one-off payment that helps those who have experienced difficult or extreme circumstances. This payment helps people who have been affected by a natural disaster that is not covered by the Department of Human Services Special Assistance Schemes.

Special Benefit is a payment that helps people who are in severe financial need because of reasons outside their control and who cannot receive any other Centrelink pension or benefit. Mobile Service Centres bring payments and services to people who live in rural or regional areas. They are particularly useful for people who do not have easy access to a DHS Service Centre.

Australian government disaster recovery payment (AGDRP)

  • a one-off payment;
  • $1000 per adult;
  • $400 per child under 16 yrs.


You may be eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) if you:

  • are aged at least 16 years; or
  • are receiving a Centrelink income support payment; and
  • are adversely affected by a major disaster.

"Adversely affected" is about serious injury, harm or damage to property.

Residence criteria

You must be:

  • an Australian resident; or
  • an Australian citizen who is not an Australian resident and who is covered by a determination made by the FaHCSIA Minister; or
  • the holder of a visa that is in a class of visa determined by the FaHCSIA Minister to be eligible.

New Zealanders

As of 31 January 2011, Special Category Visa holders who are affected by flooding will be able to claim the AGDRP. You must have been working here for the past year.  AGDRP claim forms are available:

  • online (you can also claim online);
  • by phoning Centrelink's emergency hotline number 132 850;
  • by visiting your local disaster recovery centre (where you can lodge a claim);
  • by visiting your nearest Centrelink customer Service Centre or agent.

Evidence required

You need to provide evidence of damage/medical treatment.

Time limits

Claims must be complete and lodged by a certain date. Check the Centrelink website at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/themes/help-in-an-emergency

Proof of identity

Proof of identity is required. If you have lost the relevant documents because of the disaster, Centrelink will "help to work out another way of proving your identity".

Disaster income recovery subsidy

Equivalent to the maximum rate of Newstart Allowance.


  • Employees;
  • Small business persons;
  • Farmers.

Continues for 13 weeks.


You will be eligible for the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS) if you derive an income from an area affected by the disaster or reside in an area affected by the disaster and you:

  • are 16 years of age, or older, and are not a dependent child;
  • are either an Australian resident and living in Australia for the period you are in receipt of the Subsidy, or a foreign national, living or working in Australia at the time of the disaster and for the period of time you are in receipt of the Subsidy;
  • have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the disaster and can show evidence supporting this within 28 days; and
  • are not currently (at the time of lodgment) receiving another income support payment.

If you are a member of a couple, you must qualify in your own right.

Proof of identity

Before you can get paid, you (and your partner if he/she is also claiming) may need to show Centrelink one document showing:

  • proof of birth; or
  • proof of arrival in Australia; or
  • any other approved documents that add up to the value of 50 points, for example, driver licence (40 points), bank card/statement (40 points), Medicare card (20 points);
  • if you cannot provide this immediately, you should lodge a claim without delay and provide the supporting documents to Centrelink within 28 days.

Supporting evidence

You will also need to provide evidence supporting the claimed loss of income within 28 days of claiming.

Evidence may include:

  • pay slips from an employer;
  • bank statements showing previous bank deposits from an employer;
  • a letter from the employer;
  • BAS statements;
  • income tax returns;
  • other account documents identifying cash flow.

If you have difficulty obtaining this information, contact Centrelink on 132 850.


Claim forms are available:

  • online;
  • at your local Centrelink (Customer Service Centre);
  • at evacuation/disaster recovery centres.

You can submit a claim:

  • online;
  • by calling 132 850.

When making a claim you need to complete and mail a 'self declaration form', along with supporting documentation. Time limits claims must be completed and lodged by a certain date.

Other assistance

Other assistance, such as a Low Income Health Care Card, may be available. Contact Centrelink on 132 850.

This factsheet has been adapted from the Queensland Government publication 'Centrelink payments for people affected by the flood.'

Last updated: 13-April-2021