Government Assistance When a Loved One Dies: How To

When a loved one dies, the stress and grief can be worse if you were reliant on that person - physically, financially or emotionally. Read on to learn how to access government support when you need it.
Government Assistance When a Loved One Dies: How To

Grieving the death of a family member, a friend, or anyone close to you can be an incredibly difficult time. If you’re living in Australia and looking for some financial and emotional support, there are a range of payments and services available to you.

Bereavement payments

Although Centrelink does not offer financial assistance with funerals of Centrelink recipients, in some circumstances a once-off bereavement payment may be made to eligible recipients. Funds obtained can be used by the deceased’s family to assist with paying for their funeral. 

The Australian federal government provides several payments to help when a loved one dies, and the type and amount really depends on your individual circumstances. So, when you inform the government about a death, they can work out if you’re eligible for some financial assistance, and if so, they’ll let you know how much you can receive.

Here are some examples of who may be eligible:

Spouses, de facto partners or carers

A Centrelink bereavement payment can be made to the spouse or de facto partner of the deceased, or a carer who looked after the deceased.  To access this payment, either the deceased person or their spouse or carer must have been getting regular Centrelink payments before the death. The amount is typically equivalent to 14 weeks of Centrelink payments that you and your partner would have received.

Other circumstances for partners

If your partner has passed away, you might also be eligible for a lump sum bereavement payment if:

  • You’ve already received ABSTUDY Living Allowance and Farm Household Allowance for 12 months or more
  • You’re receiving JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payments

There are also other instances where payments would be available. You can read more about these particular circumstances here. Be mindful that claims must be submitted within 26 weeks of your partner’s death.

Destitute funerals

A funeral can provide closure for those that remain. This statement is no less true for the family and friends of people who find themselves destitute when they die. If your estate or family or friends do not have the money or assets to pay for a funeral, the option for a destitute funeral may be available.

Depending on the situation, the cost of this basic funeral can be paid by the state government's Area Health Service, who will usually contact next of kin about any funeral arrangements. The specific eligibility requirements will depend on the state in which the deceased resided.

Support is always available

Everyone experiences grief differently and processes it in their own way. If you’re grieving, you might not feel like socialising or leaving your house, but your doctor or local community health centre is a great place to start. Your doctor or healthcare practitioner can give you information, and refer you to support and counselling services that are helpful for your particular set of circumstances. And if you have any questions, they’ll have the expertise and experience to direct you to the right resources. 

Not sure where to start? Read our Complete Guide to Grief Counselling and Bereavement Services.

Other helpful support services and information can be found by clicking the links below:

Online resources for grief:

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement 

24 hour, 7 days a week confidential counselling services: 

Beyond Blue 
MensLine Australia 

Telephone and online counselling services:


Support for people aged 12-25:


Support for those who have lost a partner:

Solace Australia 

Support for those who have lost a child, a sibling or a grandchild:

The Compassionate Friends Australia 

You can also contact a counsellor through:

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