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. SpB for disaster victims


Subject to the usual qualification criteria, SpB may be paid in some disaster situations, where the Minister for Emergency Management has not declared the disaster to be a major disaster requiring the AGDRP to be activated. SpB may also be paid for isolated disasters that affect only one person, a family or a street.

Explanation: AGDRP can only be paid when the Minister for Emergency Management determines in writing that an event is a major disaster (1.1.M.20).

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.7.3 AGDRP - qualification & payability, Qualification for SpB

Factors to consider for disaster victims

Payment of SpB to disaster victims can ONLY be made on a temporary basis, usually 2 weeks, to assist people who are unable to support themselves and, if applicable, their family during a short-term period of crisis resulting from the disaster. Each case must be considered on its merits.

Example: The following are only a few examples of where SpB might be required:

  • The person needs to take time off from their employment to repair or clean up property.
  • The person is temporarily unable to work because of damage to their place of employment, and has no paid leave entitlements.
  • The person is self-employed and is unable to open for business because of damage to premises or stock.
  • The person's home is devastated by fire and the person is unable to earn a sufficient livelihood while seeking other accommodation.

Application of the short-term funds test, direct deduction income test, assets test & POI requirements if a person is claiming SpB due to a disaster

If a person is claiming SpB due to a disaster, the following matters should be taken into account, as follows:

  • The short-term funds test is applied when determining eligibility. Only the immediately accessible funds of the person and, if applicable, their partner should be taken into account. That is, cash and money in bank accounts that can be quickly and easily accessed, as opposed to investments, bonds, and other assets whose cash value cannot be readily obtained.
  • The direct deduction income test should only be applied to income paid to the person and, if applicable, their partner during the 2 week SpB payment period. For example, annual interest from investments would generally be excluded.
  • The assets test is applied with consideration to whether the person's assets are accessible at short notice.
  • POI requirements may be met using documents the person has on hand such as a driver's license and credit cards.

Payment should only be withheld if there are strong suspicions about the genuine nature of the claim.

Disaster relief assistance

SpB may be paid to disaster victims who receive one-off disaster relief assistance, other than the AGDRP, from welfare or other bodies, whether they are emergency cash payments or grants for repairs to dwellings. This assistance is not taken into account when applying the short-term available funds test and the direct deduction income test.

Duration of payment

Payment of SpB must be closely monitored. If support is required beyond the first fortnightly payment, then all normal SpB conditions should apply.

Payment arrangements

SpB paid in disaster situations is subject to the normal taxation provisions.

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