The office of Senator Marise Payne, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, today announced that the Australian Government will provide additional support to the most vulnerable Australian citizens whose return to Australia has been impacted by the restrictions arising from COVID-19.
Building on the government’s existing Traveller Emergency Loans program, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is introducing a Hardship Program with further emergency assistance for the most vulnerable Aussies (citizens only) overseas.
The loans intend to cover temporary accommodation and daily living expenses until they can return. Loans may also be available to help vulnerable Australians purchase tickets for commercial flights.
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Those who wish to apply will have to meet strict eligibility criteria to access a loan. Only the most vulnerable Australian citizens still overseas will be provided with financial assistance. Moreover, all loans must be repaid upon return to Australia.
The statement from the Dept. of Foreign Affairs stressed that the government, including its embassies and high commissions around the world, continues to work with airlines and other governments to help Australians return on commercial flights. Consular officials are also assisting Australians overseas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, in order to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements in Australia, the National Cabinet agreed to international passenger arrival caps. While the caps have restricted the availability of flights home for Australians overseas, DFAT said the cap is critical to the integrity of Australia’s quarantine system and the safety of the whole Australian community.
Aussies stuck overseas in need of consular assistance can register with DFAT via covid19.dfat.gov.au
The statement encourages those seeking to return to Australia to remain in regular contact with their airlines or travel agents to confirm their arrangements.
Further detail about the assistance, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, are available on Smartraveller.gov.au.