How the Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support Program works

Under the program, thalidomide survivors may be eligible to receive a lump sum payment and ongoing annual payments. They may also be eligible to access an Extraordinary Assistance Fund (EAF) and a Health Care Assistance Fund (HCAF).

What support is available

Payments

Payments will be scaled according to level of disability and will be in addition to Australian Government support payments thalidomide survivors might already receive.

Lump sum payment

Survivors may receive a one-off, tax and income exempt payment of between $75,000 and $500,000.

Annual payment

Survivors may also receive ongoing annual tax and income exempt payments, starting in 2021–22. These payments will provide thalidomide survivors with the flexibility to invest in their needs as they see fit.

Funds

Health Care Assistance Fund (HCAF)

Eligible Australian thalidomide survivors will be able to access the HCAF. The HCAF helps cover out-of-pocket health care costs that are associated with thalidomide-related injuries. This may include:

  • health products and consumables
  • out-of-pocket pharmaceuticals costs
  • out-of-pocket health services costs, including medical, surgical and allied health
  • health-related travel and transport costs.

Out-of-pocket costs are those incurred by survivors, after the payment of any rebates or subsidies available, such as:

  • Medicare
  • the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Australian, state or territory government schemes
  • private health insurance.

The HCAF is now available to access. Claims can be back-dated to 1 July 2020.

For more information about the goods and/or services you can receive support for under the HCAF, please see:

Services Australia administers the HCAF.

Extraordinary Assistance Fund (EAF)

Eligible Australian thalidomide survivors will be able to access the EAF. The EAF helps cover the costs of goods and services supplied and received in Australia, to assist with activities of daily living, impacted as a likely result of thalidomide-related injuries. This may include:

  • assistance with personal domestic activities and self‑care activities
  • personal aids and appliances, such as wheelchairs, scooters and hoists
  • assistive technology, such as household aids and appliances, and computer software
  • vehicle modifications, such as accessories or adaptations for driver control and car access lifters or hoists
  • home modifications, such as necessary renovations or installations, slip resistant coatings, grab rails, guide rails and ramps.

Before accessing the EAF, survivors must first claim through existing mechanisms, such as:

  • the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • Australian, state or territory government schemes
  • private insurance.

The EAF is now available to access. Claims can be backdated to 1 July 2020.

For more information about the goods and/or services you can receive support for under the EAF, please see:

Services Australia administers the EAF.

Eligibility for support

Registered Australian-born survivors are eligible to receive the one-off lump sum payment, regardless of their place of residency.

Registered Australian survivors, who reside overseas for greater than 12 months, are ineligible for the annual payment, or to access the EAF or HCAF, until they return to reside in Australia.

In order to satisfy the requirements to be considered a resident of Australia for the purposes of the Program, a survivor must actually be present in Australia for more than half of any given financial year, whether continuously or with breaks. This requirement is informed by the Australian Taxation Office 183-day test, which is applied as follows:

  • Your presence in Australia need not be continuous for the purposes of the 183 day test
  • All the days you are physically present in Australia during the income year will be counted including the day of your arrival and departure

It is important to note that the 183-day test applies in relation to the year of income, not the calendar year.

How to apply for support

How to claim for support

More information about claiming through the EAF and HCAF, including copies of the claim forms, is available on the Services Australia website.

Where to send your claim

Eligible Australian thalidomide survivors can submit a claim to cover the cost of eligible goods and services under the EAF and HCAF.

Claims must be sent to Services Australia. More information about where to send your claim is available on the Services Australia website.

Thalidomide Support Service

We have established a Thalidomide Support service to help:

  • eligible thalidomide survivors to claim support from the EAF and HCAF
  • eligible thalidomide survivors to get support from existing Australian Government support services, such as the NDIS
  • eligible thalidomide survivors to get support from other state or territory government or community services and schemes

The Benevolent Society will deliver the Thalidomide Support Service.

You can email the Thalidomide Support Service  or call 1800 643 787.

For further information about the Thalidomide Support Service, please visit the Thalidomide Support Service website.

Contact

For general queries concerning the Program, or for queries about making a claim to the EAF or HCAF, email the Thalidomide Support Service or call 1800 643 787.

For queries about a specific EAF or HCAF claim, email Services Australia or call 1800 565 863.

For more information about how to make a claim through the EAF and HCAF, visit the Services Australia website.

Last updated:
Tags: 

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.