Fact Sheet: Asylum Seeker Financial Support

Do asylum seekers receive more welfare than ordinary Australians?


But I read it in an email?!

A common myth suggests that asylum seekers receive more welfare benefits than Australians, specifically pensioners. Over the years there have been several different emails claiming this, and it is being shared on Facebook.

This myth is completely false and serves no purpose other than to muddle the facts and misdirect anger towards asylum seekers. Below it is explained how some asylum seekers may receive financial benefits, but it is smaller than benefits available to Australians or permanent residents.

The Combined Pensioners & Superannuants Associations of NSW INC, a non-profit independent organisation representing pensioners, superannuants and low-income retirees, felt the need to come out and debunk this myth themselves


Can asylum seekers receive any benefits?

Some asylum seekers who are living in the community may be able to access the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (ASAS) or the Community Assistance Support Program (CAS). Both programs are funded by the Immigration Department and administered through the Red Cross.

While there are some exemptions, most asylum seekers have a number of requirements to meet before being able to access an ASAS or CAS payment, such as having to have been waiting for a protection visa decision for at least six months. The maximum amount of an ASAS or CAS allowance is always set at 89% of the Centrelink NewStart benefit.

The below graph shows a comparison of the maximum amounts per week of an asylum seeker who can access ASAS or CAS, an adult NewStart recipient and a pensioner receiving the Aged Pension.

Asylum seeker is single adult on ASAS or CAS
NewStart recipient is a single adult looking for full time employment.
Pensioner is single
Recipients for Rent Assistance are single adults
Poverty Line sourced from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Is based on a single adult not in the work force


What about asylum seekers in detention?

Asylum seekers in community detention are able to receive a small weekly allowance to meet daily living expenses. Asylum seekers that are detained in offshore detention centres and immigration detention centres in Australia cannot access any centrelink or other benefit.

Can they access health care?

As asylum seeker may be eligible to access medicare depending on their visa conditions. Those that are not eligible for a medicare card often have to use charitable organisations, such as Foundation House, the Red Cross or the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre for health care needs.

Can asylum seekers ever receive centrelink benefits?

Once an asylum seeker has been approved for a protection visa they can begin to access the same centrelink benefits Australian can. They are subject to the same rules and conditions an Australian welfare recipient has and do not in any way receive greater benefits than are available to Australians in need.

What should I do if I get this email or see it posted on Facebook?

Feel free to email this page or post it on Facebook using the link. It is important to make sure the facts are shared and no myths are allowed to muddle the debate.
For more in depth knowledge of this issue, read the Parliamentary Library’s ‘Australian government assistance to refugees: fact v fiction’.