Thursday, September 13, 2012

Centrelink and Home Education



this article is included in the Spring 2012 issue of Homeschool Unschool Australia!
It can be confusing navigating our way around Centrelink payments and it is possible to come across conflicting or alarming information. If you have a question don’t hesitate to ask it on your online home educating support group. More often than not someone has the information you need, or is able to help you find it. The following information has been sourced from government websites.
The new site for Centrelink, now called the Department for Human Services, is at
http://www.humanservices.gov.au/.
Payments for families.
Eligible parents can claim Family Tax Benefit Part A for children who are in study and up to the age of 22. Parenting Payment is available to single parents with at least one child aged less than eight, or partnered parents who care for at least one child aged less than six.
If you are the principal carer of a dependent child or children and you receive Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Special Benefit or Parenting Payment (with a youngest child over the age of six*), you will have to meet part-time Activity Test or participation requirements.
* for some this applies when the child turns seven.
Exemptions from the Activity Test and participation requirements:
If you supervise the education of your dependent child or children through home schooling or distance education, you may be eligible to receive an exemption for up to 12 months at a time. In some circumstances, you may continue to receive this exemption if your child is still completing secondary school through home schooling or distance education, after they turn 16 (and up until they turn 19 years old).
You need to provide us with verification of your registration for home schooling, or your child’s enrolment in distance education. If you do not need to register for home schooling or are exempt from registration due to your state or territory rules, you will need to provide us with evidence of your child’s ongoing home education. This includes work books, examination results, or lesson plans.”
http://www.humanservices.gov.au/spw/customer/publications/resources/lw065/lw065-1102en.rtf
Education Tax Refund
Between June 20-29 this year, one-off Education Tax Refund payments were paid: if you did not get a payment and think you may be eligible, or it was not the amount you expected to get, visit Schoolkids Bonus for more information: http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/information/schoolkids-bonus. The Schoolkids Bonus replaces the Education Tax Refund for eligible  families next January. It will be paid in two installments, January and July each year.
Children with Special Needs
Many home educating families children with special needs access additional financial support through the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme which is designed to “help parents and carers with the extra costs of educating children who cannot go to an appropriate state school on a daily basis because they have a disability or special health needs”. For further details visit:
Changes to Parenting Payment, effective Jan 2013
Some single parents who will be transferred to Newstart have expressed concern about a drop in their rate of payment. According to the following website, “some parents on Newstart Allowance are eligible for a higher rate of Newstart Allowance that is equivalent to the rate of Parenting Payment Single. Single principal carer parents with large families, who are foster carers or who are home schooling or providing distance education will continue to have access to this higher rate.”
http://www.deewr.gov.au/Employment/JSA/JobSeekerSupport/Pages/parentsCarers.aspx
Youth Allowance
Information about Youth Allowance can be found on this and linked pages:

I find the Guide To Social Security Law a useful site for (sometimes) helping to interpret information about benefits and payments.