The Australian government is offering additional help in the form of loans for the most vulnerable Australians whose return home has been affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs (and for Women) Senator Marise Payne announced the that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will make available a Hardship Program under the existing Traveller Emergency Loans program. There will be additional emergency assistance for the most vulnerable Australian citizens who are overseas.

The minister said in a media release that the assistance would be made in the form of loans to vulnerable Australians stuck overseas that would cover for temporary accommodation and daily living expenses until their return to Australia.

“Applicants will have to meet strict eligibility criteria to access a loan, and only the most vulnerable Australian citizens still overseas will be provided financial assistance. All loans must be repaid upon return to Australia,” said the minister.

“The Government, including through our embassies and high commissions around the world, continues to work with airlines and other governments to help Australians return on commercial flights. Consular officials are also assisting Australians overseas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

READ MORE: Australian government splits hairs with dual citizens requesting travel exemptions

Ms Payne also said that the national cabinet had agreed to caps controlling the number of international passenger arrivals into Australia. This was done in order to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements.

She said these caps had restricted the availability of flights home for Australians who were currently overseas.

Australians who are overseas and who need consular assistance should register on the DFAT COVID-19 website.