If parents are receiving Newstart or Family Tax Benefit, they may lose it when their youngest child turns 16, but not everyone does.
Once the youngest child turns 16, the automatic exemption from the Mutual Obligation Requirements ceases. You may still be eligible for an exemption but if so, you will receive the lower level of Newstart (not the higher level you received previously). If you receive the exemption, your child will also be eligible for FTB Part A. Exemptions are assessed on a case-by-case basis as follows:
In some circumstances, you may continue to get this exemption. For example, if your child is still completing secondary school through home schooling or distance education.
You need to provide proof of:
- registering for home schooling, or
- enrolling your child in distance education
You’ll also need to provide proof of your child’s ongoing home education, if you:
- don’t need to register for home schooling, or
- are exempt due to your state or territory rules
This proof can include workbooks, examination results or lesson plans.
Family Tax Benefit Part A
& Youth Allowance
FTB Part A normally ceases when a child turns 16 at which point, school students are moved to the Youth Allowance (YA). However, Centrelink does not recognise registration for home education as meeting the eligibility requirements for YA (full time education working towards a recognised qualification). Home ed kids often move into courses at this point. Undertaking any recognised course on a full-time basis will satisfy the YA requirements. It is also possible to meet the “full-time education” requirement by a combination of part-time study with voluntary or paid work – if together they are deemed to equal full-time participation. Consult Centrelink for details.
For parents with kids aged 16-19, the eligibility criteria for FTB Part A includes study requirements that the kids be:
- in full time secondary study in an approved course leading towards a year 12 or equivalent qualification
- have an acceptable study load, or
- have been granted an exemption from us
Home educated students may be deemed to meet the educational requirements if the relevant State Authority has given specific approval for the student to undertake home study and the authority confirms that the study is full-time and conforms with, and will be accredited towards, the secondary qualification accredited by that authority.
For Victorian home educators there is a problem in that Centrelink do not count registration with the VRQA as fully satisfying the eligibility criteria (registered with a recognised institution and working towards a recognised qualification). Centrelink say that registration with the VRQA satisfies their first criterion but not the second, and that Victorian home ed students are therefore ineligible. Some Centrelink staff recognise home education as meeting these study requirements, others don’t.
When your child turns 16, you receive a letter stating that if they are still attending school full time, there is no need to do anything. So the current options for home ed families with kids over 16 are:
- Continue home educating without the Centrelink payment.
- (Victorians) Enrol in year 10 or VCE with Distance Ed (you need to have been registered with the VRQA for at least 12 months)
- Look at other full-time options that meet the YA criteria – TAFE, Open Uni, AYCE programme – see our Older Students section for details.
- A combination of part-time work/part-time study can qualify as ‘full-time education’. Centrelink will not give a blanket comment on what constitutes suitable study/work experience etc. but volunteering can apparently count as part-time work.
- Families could apply for FTB A regardless and, when it is rejected, they can appeal the decision where it will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
- If the student is also undertakes a certificate or diploma in conjunction with home education, they may be eligible for Youth Allowance or FTB Part A
- Some families do nothing when they receive the Centrelink ‘turning 16 letter’ on the basis that home ed = school enrolment. Their payment continues unaffected but some have subsequently been asked to repay the monies received.
To avoid this problem, some home ed students look at alternatives to VCE (see our Older Students section). Others have successfully entered ‘home education’ as a ‘short course’ for a short term solution although the acceptance of home education as a short course is at the discretion of each Centrelink office.
Family Tax Benefit Part B
Home schooling for children 16 to 19 years of age does not satisfy study requirements for FTB.
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