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). 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
OR, 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
At age 16, the continuation of FTB 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 Centrelink.
Home education does not automatically meet these requirements and there is some subjectivity within Centrelink on whether it does and/or whether to grant an exemption.
When your child turns 16, you receive a letter about the study requirements. Contact Centrelink to discuss your circumstances. It pays to be informed so go armed with information on the requirements and your own circumstances from:
- Centrelink – FTB Part A eligibility
- Centrelink – FTB Part B eligibility
- The Family Assistance Guide Section 18.104.22.168 Full-time Study Requirement
- The Family Assistance Guide Section 1.1.S.27 Senior secondary school child (FTB)
- The Family Assistance Guide Section 22.214.171.124 Exemptions from Income Management for People with School-age Children
If you lose the FTB, your choices are:
- Continue home educating without it.
- (Victorians) Enrol in year 10 or VCE with Distance Ed (you need to have been registered with the VRQA for at least 12 months)
- 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.
- Appeal the decision where it will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
- 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.
- Consider alternatives to VCE (see our Older Students section).
Youth Allowance (YA) is unavailable to home educated students unless they have completed Year 12 or equivalent. The YA requirements define Year 12 equivalent as as Certificate III, bridging course etc
Check the details against your circumstances:
- Youth Allowance eligibility criteria
- 3.2.7 YA Activity Testing for Students
- 126.96.36.199 YA Recipients Under 18
- 188.8.131.52 YA Full-time Students
- 184.108.40.206 Approved Courses of Study for YA
- 3.2.4 YA Exemption from Full-time Education/Training for Under 18s
- 220.127.116.11 YA Study-load – Full-time Students in Flexible Study
- 18.104.22.168 Part-time Study or Work Exemption for Under 18s
Home ed kids often move into courses at this point. Undertaking a course on a full-time basis will satisfy the YA requirements as long as the course leads to a recognised qualification
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