The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) - description

Objective of AGDRP

AGDRP is a one-off payment provided to eligible Australian residents who are adversely affected by a major disaster (1.1.M.20). A major disaster can be a natural or man-made disaster (such as a terrorist attack) that occurs either in Australia or offshore.

Activation of AGDRP

Activation of AGDRP involves the following steps:

Step Description


Determination by the Minister for Emergency Management (the Minister) that an event is a major disaster:

  • The Minister has power under SSAct section 36 to determine in writing that an event is a major disaster. The Minister may determine an event to be a major disaster if the Minister is satisfied that a disaster has such a significant impact on individuals that an Australian Government response is required. When arriving at such a decision the Minister is also required to take into account the following factors

    • the number of individuals affected, and
    • the extent to which the nature or extent of the disaster is unusual.

Determination by the Minister of the meaning of 'adversely affected':

  • Under SSAct section 1061L, the Minister also determines the circumstances in which persons are taken to be adversely affected by the disaster in question.
  • The definition of adversely affected is determined with respect to each disaster at the time of activating AGDRP, as reflected in the Ministerial Determination. This is in recognition that hardship can be caused by a variety of circumstances that differ across disasters and depend on their nature and severity. It is appropriate that decisions regarding how people are considered to be adversely affected are made on a case-by-case basis.

In practice, the Minister usually signs the determinations referred to in steps 1 and 2 at the same time. The determinations usually commence upon signature, however, the commencement date should be carefully checked with the National Emergency Management Agency before approving any payments of AGDRP. Both instruments must take effect before AGDRP can be paid.

Assessment of AGDRP

It is useful to consider the assessment of AGDRP claims as involving the following 2 stages:

Stage Requirements under SSAct Criteria
1 Subsection 1061K(1)(a) and (b)

To qualify for AGDRP a person must be at least 16 years of age or receiving a social security payment and be one of the following:

  • an Australian resident
  • the holder of a visa that is in a class of visas determined by the Minister for Social Services for the purpose of SSAct section 729(2)(f)(v), i.e. SCV, or
  • an Australian citizen who is not an Australian resident and who is covered by a determination under subsection 1061K(2).


Subsection 1061K(1)(c) - whether claimant was adversely affected

To be eligible for AGDRP a person must be adversely affected by the major disaster.

  • The meaning of adversely affected specifies the eligibility criteria for each major disaster and is subject to change depending on the nature and impact of the major disaster.
  • The definition of adversely affected is determined with respect to each major disaster by the Minister at the time of activating AGDRP, as reflected in the Ministerial Determination.
  • The National Emergency Management Agency develops operational instructions with respect to each Ministerial Determination to provide additional context, examples and instructions for applying the definition that should be considered in the processing of each claim.

In summary, a claimant must satisfy all of subsections 1061K(1)(a), (b) and (c) to qualify for an AGDRP payment in respect of a particular major disaster.

Note: A child does not qualify for AGDRP in their own right. For the purpose of AGDRP, a child is considered to be anyone under the age of 16 years (15 years and under) who is not receiving a social security payment. If a person under the age of 16 years is receiving a social security payment, they should be treated the same as those aged 16 years or over.

However, if a qualified adult is the principal carer (1.1.P.412), the qualified adult will receive the child rate of AGDRP for each child for whom the adult is the principal carer. A person is considered a principal carer of a child if the child is a dependent child of the person and the child has not turned 16. The definition of dependent child (1.1.D.70) requires the adult to be legally responsible for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child and the child to be in the adult's care.

Under SSAct section 1061K(4), a person cannot be qualified for more than one AGDRP in relation to the same major disaster.

Note: AGDRP will only be available to a deceased individual or their estate if the individual submitted a valid claim before their death.

How AGDRP is paid

AGDRP is usually paid as a one-off lump sum payment. However, there is a provision that, if it is appropriate to do so, the person's payment can be paid in instalments. A person who is currently receiving a pension or benefit and meets the criteria for AGDRP can receive AGDRP in addition to their regular payment, without their eligibility for their regular payment being affected.

Act reference: SSAct section 36 Major disaster, section 1061K Qualification for AGDRP, section 1061L Meaning of adversely affected, section 1061M Amount of payment for disasters in Australia, section 1061N Amount of payment for disasters outside Australia

SS(Admin)Act section 46A Payment of AGDRP

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.7.3 AGDRP - qualification & payability, AGDRP - current rates

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