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Pandemic leave disaster payment for workers forced to isolate

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A $1500 pandemic leave disaster payment for Victorians forced to self-isolate but have no sick leave left.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a $1500 pandemic leave disaster payment for Victorians with no sick leave who are forced to self-isolate.

In an emotive address, Mr Morrison said he understood the "tears and deep disappointments" of millions as the country battled through the "unfair" pandemic.

READ MORE: Most non-essential business to close in Melbourne

After Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared a Stage Four lockdown that would see thousands without work from Wednesday, Mr Morrison announced the emergency payments so people who did not have sick leave entitlements did not feel obliged to keep working.

Those people can access the payment multiple times if they are required to self-isolate on more than one occasion.

Eligible workers can call a government hotline and apply for the payments over the phone from Wednesday.

"Earlier this year, when we were confronting the bushfires, we made a number of additional disaster payments - particularly for children and families affected by bushfires," Mr Morrison said.

"What we're dealing with here is a disaster and we need to respond on the basis of the why we provide support in the midst of disasters. This pandemic is a disaster.

"We need a disaster payment when it comes for people who have to isolate for a period of 14 days through no fault of their own, regardless of what their job or employment status is, they need that support."

The prime minister said he understood the range of emotions residents are going through as Victoria endures a new stage in its restrictions.

"I understand people's frustration. I understand their anger. In some cases, I certainly understand their fury," Mr Morrison said.

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Members of the Australian Defence Force walk through Melbourne, which is now under stage four restrictions and a night curfew.

"I think that is the array of very difficult emotions people are going through, whether they're in metropolitan inner-Melbourne or they're out in regional Victoria where there are very few cases.

"The challenge of dealing with this pandemic is not fair to people. It's very unfair what's happening to people."

Mr Morrison said Premier Daniel Andrews had been forced to make hard decisions and said he had not appeared to have taken any of them lightly.

READ MORE: Which workplaces will stay open or close in Victoria's Stage 4 restrictions

"The premier obviously has to make some difficult calls and not everybody is going to agree with every call he makes," Mr Morrison said.

"I have no doubt he understands that and understands the accountability for those decisions.

"I am absolutely sure that he wasn't taken any of them lightly in the many conversations that I've had with him."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews

The prime minister said Australians from all corners of the country were supporting Victorians.

"Today is a day where letting Victorians know that we are there to support you," Mr Morrison said.

"And we will be there to support you with a $1500 payment in the same way that others receive JobKeeper that — if you're put in that situation — you can have that support for that two-week period.

READ MORE: Your most pressing stage four questions answered

"I just want to assure Victorians, again, that I know it's a really tough day for you and I know you've had some really heartbreaking news.

"The idea that, in this country, we'd be living at a time where there would be a night curfew on an entire city of the size of Melbourne was unthinkable, but, frankly, as we've moved through this pandemic, we've had to deal with a lot of unthinkable things.

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"We will deal with it. Victorians, I know, are up to it. I know they will support each other. And I know that other Australians will support Victorians."

Mr Morrison also said he would not speculate whether the Federal Government would consider delaying cuts to the JobKeeper and Jobseeker rate, given the situation in Victoria.

"We're talking about something many weeks from now, and we'll be making further assessments of that," he said.

"The JobKeeper program is a national program.

"It applies in Cairns. It applies in Bunbury. It applies in Brunswick.

"So it will continue to run as a national program, and any specific issues that are relevant to Victoria, (we'll) seek to meet together with the Victorian government."

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians.Visit the site here or call 1800512348

For coronavirus breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the 9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.

Source: 9News

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