Centrelink payments for parents and home educators can be a little complicated, as eligibility is based on various requirements and circumstances. These are: income, relationship status, age of children, registration status (for home educators).
If you are eligible for Centrelink payments as a partnered parent, you can receive Parenting Payment Partnered up until the time your youngest child turns six years old. When your child turns six you will be required to apply for Newstart Payment. Mainstream parents at this point are also required to meet their Mutual Obligation Requirements, which is looking for work, working, studying or volunteering for a specific number of hours and reporting these activities each fortnight.
Homeschooling is considered an automatic exemption and fulfils all mutual obligation requirements. Newstart is still the only payment available in normal circumstances, and despite the exemption you will still need to “report” each fortnight.
You will need to give Centrelink a copy of your homeschool registration in order to get the exemption, and you will need to send them an updated copy each year.
If you are a single parent and not working, or are earning a low enough amount of money, you may be eligible for Parenting Payment Single, up until the time your youngest turns eight years old. Like partnered parents, however, when your youngest child turns six years old you will be required to meet Mutual Obligation Requirements. For the average parent this means looking for work, working, volunteering or studying for a specific number of hours and reporting these activities each fortnight.
Homeschooling is considered an automatic exemption and fulfils all mutual obligation requirements. You will still need to “report” each fortnight, however.
When your youngest child turns eight, you will need to apply for Newstart. For single home educators this will not present much change. While mainstream single parents moving onto Newstart have their payment rates drop significantly, home educating parents stay on a higher rate of payment – this is the same amount as would be received on Parenting Payment Single. Exemptions from mutual obligations, and requirement to report remain the same.
You will need to give Centrelink a copy of your registration in order to get your exemptions, and you will need to send them an updated copy each year.
Some suggest printing out the relevant sections of the above links when meeting with Centrelink, so you can show them that you have the right to exemption (as some Centrelink employees do not know about the exemption).
The above was updated September 2017.
In July 2006, ‘welfare-to-work’ policies were introduced for parenting payments. This policy required most parents with school-aged children to be employed or seeking employment of 15 to 25 hours per week in return for their income support payment.
The current terminology is ‘Mutual Obligation Requirements’ and registered homeschooling is a valid exemption from the work requirements. Payment rates are listed here. For more information contact Centrelink on 13 17 64.
Victorians: You will need to be registered with the VRQA or the Distance Education Centre. You then give Centrelink a copy of your Registration letter to Centrelink and request that they list you as exempt from the Mutual Obligation Requirements under the ‘registered homeschooler catgegory’.
We have known Centrelink to be reluctant to admit that this exemption category exists. We advise home educators who are having any difficulties to print off the information in the exemptions information from DHS. The press release below is now somewhat old but may also be useful. Take them both, together with your homeschooling registration evidence to Centrelink and firmly state that you are exempt under the homeschooling category.
Home educators are advised that this payment does not happen automatically, you need to apply for it through Centrelink.
Changes are made all the time so home educators are advised to watch the news and be prepared to lobby if required.