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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> Income and Welfare >> Income support and other community support programs

INCOME SUPPORT AND OTHER COMMUNITY SUPPORT PROGRAMS

Information in this section was contributed by the Australian Government departments of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Veterans' Affairs; Health and Ageing; Education, Science and Training; and Employment and Workplace Relations.

Australian governments, at all levels, provide welfare support to the community through a range of programs. The largest component of this welfare is through income support programs provided by the Australian Government. A listing of web sites is provided at the end of this chapter where additional information about specific welfare programs provided by the Australian Government can be obtained.

INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS

The Australian income support system provides financial assistance to individuals in a variety of circumstances, including families, job seekers, the aged, people with disability, carers, mature age people, and students. Assistance is also provided for a range of goods and services through pensioner concession and health cards. Some forms of assistance are provided as direct transfers to individuals, while others are payments to services on their behalf, or taxation rebates. Some programs use a combination of these means. Approximately 4.8 million people, or more than one in five individuals, are direct beneficiaries of income support and supplementary payments at any one time.

The main income support payments and benefits provided by Australian Government departments for the financial years 2002-03 to 2005-06 are listed in table 7.9 (all tables in this section are based on current dollars). Details of the main payments effective during 2005-06, together with associated statistics, are provided in this section.


7.9 EXPENDITURE ON MAJOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS(a)(b)

2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
$’000
$’000
$’000
$’000

SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS

Family assistance
Family Tax Benefit - Family Assistance Office payments(c)
10,473,856
12,869,904
12,826,730
13,534,246
Family Assistance Legislative Amendment (More Help for Families - 'One-off' payments)
. .
2,222,990
. .
. .
Family Assistance Scheme
. .
. .
174,362
22,697
Maternity Allowance(d)(e)
216,634
180,063
20,053
. .
Maternity Immunisation Allowance(d)
. .
43,193
43,280
49,843
Maternity Payment
. .
. .
726,814
855,039
Double Orphan Pension
2,052
2,165
2,389
2,669
Child care support
Child Care Benefit
1,364,358
1,387,946
1,462,670
1,501,287
Child Care for Eligible Parents Undergoing Training
12,985
12,880
17,215
21,658
Support for carers
Carer Payment(f)
702,649
921,008
1,062,101
1,220,828
Carer Allowance(f)(g)
744,488
965,430
1,109,346
1,258,397
Support for the aged(h)
Age Pension
17,740,214
19,540,401
19,970,348
20,588,124
Aged Persons Savings Bonus
-144
13
-28
4
'One-off' Payment to Seniors
-2
-5
. .
. .
Self-Funded Retirees' Supplementary Bonus
569
169
56
23
Telephone Allowance for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Holders
11,668
12,251
13,388
18,591
Utilities Allowance(f)
. .
. .
68,667
288,109
Seniors Concession Allowance(f)
. .
. .
57,967
93,420
Widow Class B Pension
39,804
26,275
8,064
6,491
Wife Pension (Age)
195,071
194,176
179,017
173,127
Wife Pension (DSP)
351,491
326,083
290,125
258,497
Special Benefit
116,286
113,141
98,772
75,042
Bereavement Allowance
986
1,075
1,065
1,079

WORKING AGE INCOME SUPPORT

Working age income support payments
Newstart Allowance
4,831,069
4,754,733
4,627,413
4,527,720
Parenting Payment
5,731,117
5,995,135
6,127,018
6,048,303
Mature Age Allowance
381,155
372,523
258,898
162,667
Partner Allowance
860,768
860,462
703,894
599,088
Widow Allowance
429,662
469,276
477,552
492,836
Pensioner Education Supplement
68,574
72,139
78,985
78,550
Disability Support Pension
6,851,608
7,492,532
7,910,767
8,256,566
Mobility Allowance
74,975
82,163
85,562
95,872
Sickness Allowance
85,528
85,375
89,407
85,415

YOUTH AND STUDENT SUPPORT

Youth and student support
Youth Allowance(i)
2,235,020
2,257,447
2,174,177
2,101,265
Austudy
270,623
258,848
227,059
217,765
ABSTUDY
146,018
161,129
150,403
154,973

VETERANS SUPPORT

Veterans Income Support Program
Service Pension
2,528,030
2,535,576
2,503,390
2,495,893
Income Support Supplement
274,170
294,949
313,035
328,315
Compensation Program
Disability Pension
1,244,684
1,288,539
1,304,662
1,327,420
War Widow(er)/ Orphan Pensions
1,370,486
1,445,065
1,501,728
1,542,538

ALL MAJOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS

Total(j)
59,356,452
67,245,049
66,666,351
68,484,357

(a) Outlays on pensions, allowances and Family Tax Benefits include expenditure on Commonwealth Rent Assistance. Details of rent assistance are included in the Housing chapter.
(b) Negative values are recoveries from previous years.
(c) This does not include payments made by the Australian Taxation Office.
(d) Expenditure on Maternity Allowance prior to 2003-04 includes Maternity Immunisation Allowance.
(e) Payments for Maternity Allowance ceased in 2004-05, as they were replaced by the Maternity Payment.
(f) Includes 'one-off' bonus payments in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 for the Carer payments, and in 2005-06 for Utilities and Seniors Concession Allowances.
(g) Carer Allowance was introduced on 1 July 1999. It combined Child Disability Allowance with Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefit, which was the responsibility of the Department of Health and Ageing.
(h) Pharmaceutical Allowance and Remote Area Allowance have not been added as expenditure for these items cannot be separately identified.
(i) Youth allowance is composed of an allowance for full-time students administered by the Department of Education, Science and Training, and an allowance for part-time students and the unemployed which is administered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.
(j) Total is for the above programs only and does not include some minor income support payments.
Source: Australian Government Departments of: Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Employment and Workplace Relations; Veterans' Affairs; Health and Ageing; Education, Science and Training.


Most allowance types are adjusted once or twice a year in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to maintain purchasing power. Pension payments are adjusted in line with the CPI and male total average weekly earnings, ensuring the maximum single pension rate does not fall below 25% of male total average weekly earnings. Many income support payments are subject to income, assets and activity tests, to ensure benefits are targeted to those in greatest need. Details of the rates in effect at 30 June 2006 are listed in table 7.10.

Since September 1997 Centrelink has delivered most of the income support payments on behalf of Australian Government departments. Centrelink is a statutory agency established to deliver a range of Australian Government services to the Australian community. It operates under the Services Delivery Agency Act 1997 (Cwlth). Centrelink provides advice about payment entitlements, provides referrals to Centrelink specialist staff for additional assistance, and may refer customers to other departments, agencies or community organisations where appropriate.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) delivers various income support payments and pensions to eligible veterans and their families. Medicare Australia and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) also support the delivery of Family Assistance programs, with Medicare Australia also supporting the delivery of Aged Care payments.

Numbers of income support customers referred to in this section generally relate to June of the reference year. These numbers are taken from extracts of administrative data as close to 30 June as possible. The dates of extracts, however, can vary between payment types. All financial data refer to the full financial year.


7.10 MAXIMUM RATES FOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS(a)(b)

$

Age Pension
Single
499.70
Couple(c)
417.20
Austudy
Single or partnered, no children
334.70
Single, with children
438.50
Partnered, with children
367.50
ABSTUDY
variable
Carer Allowance
94.70
Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) Participant Supplement
20.80
Child Care Benefit
Approved care(d)
Non-school age child
2.88
School age child
2.45
Registered care(d)
Non-school age child
0.48
School age child
0.41
Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)(e)
variable
Disability Support Pension (DSP)
Single
499.70
Couple(c)
417.20
Disability Pension
General Rate
308.50
Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA)
468.60
Intermediate Rate
571.00
Special Rate (TPI)
832.10
Double Orphan Pension
47.50
Education Entry Payment
208.00
Family Tax Benefit Part A(f)
For each dependent child
Aged under 13 years
137.06
Aged 13-15 years
173.74
Aged 16-17 years
44.10
Aged 18-24 years
59.36
Family Tax Benefit Part B(f)
Age of youngest child
Aged under 5 years
117.60
Aged 5-15 years, or aged 16-18 years and full-time students
82.04
Income Support Supplement for war widows and widowers
148.80
Maternity Payment 'One-off' lump sum, per birth
3,166.00
Maternity Immunisation Allowance 'One-off' lump sum
222.30
Military Compensation
variable
Mobility Allowance
71.40
Newstart Allowance
Single
Aged 21 or over, no children
410.60
Aged 21 or over, with children
444.20
Aged 60 or over, after 9 months
450.00
Partnered
370.50
Orphan's Pension
Single
76.10
Double
152.10
Parenting Payment
Sole parents
499.70
Partnered parents
370.50
Partner Allowance
370.50
Pensioner Education Supplement
Full-time or concessional study load
62.40
Part-time study load
31.20
Service Pension
Single
499.70
Couple(c)
417.20
Youth Allowance
Single, no children
Aged under 18 years, at home
183.20
Aged 18 years and over, at home
220.30
Away from home
334.70
Single with children
438.50
Partnered with no children
334.70
Partnered with children
367.50
War widow's pension and orphan's pension
524.70

(a) Rates do not include Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments.
(b) Per fortnight, unless otherwise indicated.
(c) Per person.
(d) Per hour.
(e) DFISA is covered by the maximum age or service pension. If an individual receives maximum age or service pension then that individual will not be entitled to any DFISA. If a person has a reduced age or service pension then the maximum DFISA will be the difference between the maximum age or service pension and the actual age or service pension.
(f) Fortnightly figures provided for Family Tax Benefit do not include end-of-year supplements, which were $627.80 per child for FTB Part A and $306.60 per family for FTB Part B.
Note: For Bereavement Allowance see single Age Pension. For Carer Payment, Widow Class B Pension, Wife Pension (Age) and Wife Pension (DSP) see Age Pension. For Mature Age Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Widow Allowance see Newstart Allowance. Special Benefit generally as for Newstart/Youth Allowance.
Source: Centrelink, ‘A guide to Australian Government payments 20 March-30 June 2006’. Department of Veterans' Affairs, 'You and Your Pension', 2005 Edition.

Family assistance

Family assistance policies are formulated to provide income support to families to assist with the costs of raising children, including newborns, in a way that recognises the needs and choices of both single and dual income families.

Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB Part A) helps families with the cost of raising dependent children. It is paid to families with dependent children up to 21 years, and young people between 21 and 24 years who are studying full time. Payments are made for each dependent child who is not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment. FTB Part A is subject to a family income test and provides access to a number of supplementary payments. These are Rent Assistance, Large Family Supplement and Multiple Birth Allowance. There is also an end of year supplement.

Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB Part B) provides extra assistance for families with only one main income earner. Payment to a family is based on the age of the youngest child, and is assessed on the income of the family’s second income earner. It is paid per family, not per dependent child. Families must have at least one dependent child aged under 16 years, or aged 16-18 years who is studying full-time. The child must not be receiving Youth Allowance or similar payment. FTB Part B has a higher rate of payment where the youngest child is under 5 years of age. There is also an end of year supplement.

FTB Part A and Part B payments are administered by the Family Assistance Office (FAO), which is located at Centrelink Customer Service Centres, Medicare Australia offices and ATO shopfronts. They are available as a direct payment from the FAO, either fortnightly or as a lump sum, or via tax instalment deductions or an end of year lump sum payment through the tax system. Some FTB recipients can receive fortnightly payments for part of the tax year with the balance as a lump sum at the end of the tax year. As at the end of June 2006, 1.8 million families with 3.5 million children received FTB Part A and 1.4 million families received FTB Part B via fortnightly payments from the FAO.

Maternity Payment is a one-off lump sum payment made to families following the birth (including stillbirth) or adoption of a baby up to the age of two years. Maternity Payment recognises the extra costs incurred at the time of a new birth or the adoption of a very young child and is not income tested.

Maternity Immunisation Allowance is a one-off lump sum payment paid for children fully immunised to the level recommended for an 18-month-old child. It must be claimed on or before the child turns two years of age and is not income tested.

The Double Orphan Pension is not means tested and is a payment for children aged under 16 years or full-time dependent students aged 16-21 years who do not receive Youth Allowance. It is available to children/young people who have at least one deceased parent and who cannot have contact with the other parent (e.g. because that parent is a long-term prisoner or their whereabouts is unknown).

Table 7.11 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on family assistance.


7.11 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR FAMILY ASSISTANCE

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Family Tax Benefit(a)
Family Assistance Office (FAO)
Recipients(a)
Part A - fortnightly instalments(b)no.
1,785,123
1,809,122
1,828,495
1,811,826
Part B - fortnightly instalments(b)no.
1,223,572
1,205,760
1,396,918
1,372,693
Lump sum payments(c)no.
59,323
63,946
77,070
56,865
Claims lodged with ATO but to be paid by the FAO(d)no.
14,016
12,083
16,869
20,554
Total payments (Part A and Part B)(e)$'000
10,473,856
12,869,904
12,826,730
13,534,246
Australian Taxation Office
Recipients(a)(d)
Paid by tax instalment deduction or on assessment(d)no.
83,762
99,075
117,722
134,535
Payments
Paid by tax instalment deduction or on assessment(d)$'000
193,796
243,493
345,000
444,000
Reconciliation credits(d)(e)$'000
217,975
257,466
820,000
1,289,000
Family Assistance Legislative Amendment (More help for families - 'One-off' payments)$'000
. .
2,222,990
. .
. .
Family Assistance Scheme$'000
. .
. .
174,362
22,697
Maternity Payment
Recipientsno.
. .
. .
235,371
268,751
Payments(f)(g)$'000
. .
. .
726,814
855,039
Maternity Allowance
Recipientsno.
207,029
209,218
22,292
. .
Payments(f)(g)$'000
216,634
180,063
20,053
. .
Maternity Immunisation Allowance
Recipientsno.
203,900
203,658
200,343
219,775
Payments(f)(g)$'000
. .
43,193
43,280
49,843
Double Orphan Pension
Recipientsno.
1,137
1,151
1,286
1,312
Payments(f)$'000
2,052
2,165
2,389
2,669

(a) Recipients who claimed assistance using more than one payment method for the year are included in each category.
(b) This provides a count of the customers eligible for payment at the time of data extraction (in June of the relevant tax year). It does not show all the customers who are eligible throughout the course of the year.
(c) Figures for lump sum payments refer to payments made in the relevant tax year ending 30 June for the FTB entitlement for the previous year.
(d) Number of recipients and expenditure refer to FTB payments made by ATO within the relevant tax year (i.e. regardless of FTB entitlement year) at the last Friday of June of the relevant tax year.
(e) This refers to payments to customers who received FTB via fortnightly instalment from the FAO but were paid a top-up by ATO after they lodged a tax return and were reconciled. Reconciliation credits for 2004-05 and 2005-06 tax years also include FTB supplements.
(f) Expenditure refers to total payments to end of June of the relevant tax year.
(g) Separate expenditure figures are not available for Maternity Allowance and Maternity Immunisation Allowance for years prior to 2004-05.
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Child care support

To help families with children to participate in the economic and social life of the community, the Australian Government supports their access to child care.

Child care services include centre-based long-day care, family day care, in-home care, before and after school hours care, vacation care, occasional care, and Multi-functional Aboriginal Children’s Services. Flexible services that can combine various models of care are also available to meet the needs of families in rural and remote areas.

There are two main forms of Australian Government payment for child care support: the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR).

CCB helps families with the cost of child care, with financial assistance proportionally higher for lower income families. Eligible families can have the benefit paid directly to the child care service to reduce their ongoing fees. Alternatively they can receive the benefit as a lump sum refund at the end of the financial year.

CCTR is a tax offset available to families using approved child care with parents undertaking work, study or training. Families can receive up to 30% of out-of pocket child care expenses up to $4,000 per child, per year, after CCB entitlements have been reconciled.

In addition, Jobs Education and Training (JET) Child Care provides flexible child care assistance to parents receiving certain Centrelink payments who wish to undertake study, work or job search activities and are aiming to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Table 7.12 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on CCB.


7.12 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR CHILD CARE SUPPORT(a)

2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
no.
$'000
no.
$'000
no.
$'000
no.
$'000

Child Care Benefit (CCB)
Approved services(a)
697,912
. .
704,000
. .
725,000
. .
n.a.
. .
Registered services(b)
57,600
. .
59,700
. .
n.a.
. .
n.a.
. .
Total CCB expenditure
. .
1,364,358
. .
1,387,946
. .
1,462,670
. .
1,501,287
Child Care for Eligible Parents Undergoing Training
(c)12,941
12,985
12,388
12,880
18,316
17,215
18,188
21,658

(a) Number of customers who used care over the financial year. Includes CCB paid to recipients as a reduction in service fees and potentially as a lump sum payment.
(b) CCB for registered care is paid at minimum rate.
(c) Number of children in child care assisted through JET. Due to improved recording methods, comparisons between previous years are not appropriate.
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Support for carers

There are two forms of Australian Government financial assistance that may be available in a caring situation - Carer Payment and Carer Allowance.

Carer Payment provides income support to people who, due to the demands of their caring role, are unable to support themselves through substantial workforce participation.

Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment that is available to people who provide daily care and attention in a private home for an adult or child with a disability, severe medical condition, or who is frail aged. It can be paid in addition to a social security income support payment.

In 2004, 2005 and 2006 a 'one-off' Carer Bonus of $1,000 was paid to eligible recipients of Carer Payment and a 'one-off' Carer Allowance Bonus of $600 for each eligible care receiver they provide care for. These bonus payments are non-taxable and do not count as income for social security or family assistance purposes.

Table 7.13 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on support for carers.


7.13 SUPPORT FOR CARERS

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Carer Payment
Recipients(a)no.
75,937
84,082
95,446
105,058
Total payments$'000
702,649
(b)921,008
(b)1,062,101
(b)1,220,828
Carer Allowance
Recipients(a)no.
299,609
297,607
340,005
(c)366,960
Total payments$'000
744,488
(b)965,430
(b)1,109,346
(b)1,258,397

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Includes carer bonus payments.
(c) Not including Health Care Card only customers.
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Support for the aged

The principal form of support for the aged is the Age Pension. Age Pension age for men is 65 years and for women is being progressively raised to 65 years by 2014. The qualifying age for women depends on their date of birth, with the minimum age increasing by six months at two-year intervals until it reaches 65 years for those born on or after 1 January 1949.

Other payments available for older Australians include Wife Pension and Widow B Pension. However, these payments have been closed off to new claimants, so the population on and expenditure for these payments have decreased over time. These payments were designed to provide financial assistance to women below the pension age who are either the partner of an age pensioner or who have lost the financial support of a male partner through death, separation or divorce. There are now payments administered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) for women in these circumstances.

DVA provides support for the aged through the Age Service Pension and Partner Service Pension, which are components of the Service Pension and are described in a later section.

Table 7.14 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on support for the aged.


7.14 SUPPORT FOR AGED(a)

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Age Pension(b)
Malesno.
739,187
761,025
782,977
800,310
Femalesno.
1,121,868
1,115,225
1,132,059
1,121,819
Personsno.
1,861,055
1,876,250
1,915,036
1,922,129
Total payments$'000
17,740,214
19,540,401
19,970,348
20,588,124
Widow B Pension
Recipientsno.
2,986
1,879
839
775
Total payments$'000
39,804
26,275
8,064
6,491
Wife Pension (Age)(b)
Recipientsno.
20,319
19,728
17,025
16,332
Total payments$'000
195,071
194,176
179,017
173,127

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Includes the Pension Bonus Scheme, and amounts paid by the Department of Veterans' Affairs in relation to the Age Pension and related Wife Pension.
Source: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Working age income support payments

Working age income support programs help people of working age (15-64 years) by providing income support to those seeking work or undertaking other activities such as training or community work or caring for children.

The main working age income support payments are: Newstart Allowance (NSA), Parenting Payment (Single and Partnered), Disability Support Pension and Youth Allowance (other).

In the 2005-06 Budget, the Australian Government announced a number of Welfare to Work measures aimed at addressing the specific needs of parents, mature-aged people with disability and the very long-term unemployed that encourage these people to (re-)enter the workforce. Welfare to Work measures aim to increase workforce participation and reduce welfare dependency, while maintaining a strong safety net for those who need it.

NSA provides income support for eligible job seekers aged between 21 years and Age Pension age. Youth Allowance (other) is a means-tested income support payment available to eligible young people aged 16-20 years who are seeking or preparing for paid employment or are temporarily unable to work. NSA and Youth Allowance (other) recipients must satisfy an activity test by seeking work or participating in an activity designed to improve their employment prospects. Recipients must also accept offers of suitable employment.

Most activity-tested job seekers aged 18-49 years on NSA or Youth Allowance (other) are required to start an approved Mutual Obligation activity in addition to their normal job search requirements. Mutual Obligation is based on the principle that unemployed people have an obligation to improve their job prospects in the labour market or to contribute to the community that supports them in return for unemployment payments. Eligible job seekers can satisfy their Mutual Obligation through a range of activities: Work for the Dole, Community Work, the Voluntary Work Initiative, Green Corps and Green Reserve. On successful completion of Work for the Dole and Community Work, many job seekers qualify for a Training Credit of between $500 and $800, which can be used to buy approved training. Prior to 1 July 2006, people aged 50 years and over on NSA were not subject to Mutual Obligation but had a Personal Adviser to ensure that their requirements were appropriate, and that they had access to appropriate services.

Under the Welfare to Work measures, from 1 July 2006 the same job search requirements apply to mature-aged people aged 50 years and over receiving NSA as they do for other job seekers. Job seekers aged 50-54 years are no longer able to fully satisfy the activity test by undertaking voluntary work or a combination of voluntary and part-time work. However, job seekers aged 55 years and over may satisfy the activity test by undertaking a minimum of 15 hours per week of voluntary work, part-time work or a combination of the two. Job seekers aged 40-49 years have Work for the Dole as their default Mutual Obligation activity.

Currently, Parenting Payment is paid to single and partnered low-income parents with primary responsibility for the care of at least one dependent child aged less than 16 years. Under the Welfare to Work measures, parents applying for Parenting Payment on or after 1 July 2006 will receive Parenting Payment until their youngest child turns six (if partnered) or eight (if single), subject to meeting other eligibility requirements. Parents who require assistance after this will usually receive Newstart Allowance and be subject to participation requirements of 15 hours per week. Parents receiving Parenting Payment prior to 1 July 2006 will be able to remain on Parenting Payment under the current entitlement until their youngest child turns 16 years, subject to meeting other eligibility requirements. These parents will have participation requirements of 15 hours per week from 1 July 2007 or when their youngest child turns seven, whichever happens later. Assistance for preparing for work is provided to these recipients through the services of Centrelink, the Job Network and specialist services, where appropriate.

Other non-activity tested payments for people of workforce age include Mature Age Allowance, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance and some Special Benefit customers. Special Benefit provides assistance to people in severe financial need and for whom no other pension, allowance or other support is available. There is also a Bereavement Allowance, which is a short-term payment for recently widowed people without dependent children, payable for up to 14 weeks. Since 20 September 2003 the Mature Age Allowance and Partner Allowance have been closed to new entrants. Since 1 July 2005, new claims for Widow Allowance have been limited to women born before 1 July 1955.

Table 7.15 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on working age income support.


7.15 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR WORKING AGE INCOME SUPPORT(a)(b)

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Newstart Allowance
Short-term (less than 12 months)
Malesno.
144,691
128,530
123,340
120,479
Femalesno.
58,744
60,155
57,777
53,730
Personsno.
203,435
188,685
181,117
174,209
Long-term (12 months and over)
Malesno.
210,834
196,006
176,314
167,686
Femalesno.
98,063
98,402
96,183
96,665
Personsno.
308,897
294,408
272,497
264,351
Total payments$'000
4,831,069
4,754,733
4,627,413
4,527,720
Parenting Payment
Single
Malesno.
33,909
34,866
34,436
32,463
Femalesno.
403,049
414,446
414,130
400,907
Personsno.
436,958
449,312
448,566
433,370
Total payments$'000
4,350,133
4,657,296
4,847,856
4,818,425
Partnered
Personsno.
181,405
177,157
167,260
159,719
Total payments$'000
1,380,984
1,337,839
1,279,162
1,229,878
Mature Age Allowance
Recipientsno.
41,070
32,905
20,877
12,038
Total payments$'000
381,155
372,523
258,898
162,667
Partner Allowance
Recipientsno.
102,805
90,930
71,615
60,489
Total payments$'000
860,768
860,462
703,894
599,088
Widow Allowance
Recipientsno.
43,202
45,315
44,329
44,603
Total payments$'000
429,662
469,276
477,552
492,836
Pensioner Education Supplement
Recipientsno.
52,923
50,445
52,093
53,646
Total payments$'000
68,574
72,139
78,985
78,550

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) The number of Newstart, Mature Age, Partner and Widow Allowance customers in this table excludes Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) participants. CDEP participants receive a CDEP scheme payment and may be eligible for the CDEP Scheme Participant Supplement and certain social security 'add-ons', such as Commonwealth Rent Assistance and Pharmaceutical Allowance. However, the basic rate of these labour market allowances is not payable to CDEP scheme participants, hence their exclusion from the customer numbers data.
Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


Youth and student support

Youth Allowance is the main income support payment for young people aged 16-20 years who are actively seeking employment and for full-time students aged 16-24 years. It is subject to a personal income and assets test. If the person does not meet the Youth Allowance independence criteria then parental income, family assets, and family actual means tests also apply. If the person is independent and partnered, a partner income test applies and the couple’s combined assets are assessed.

The rate of Youth Allowance is determined on the young person’s age, whether they are single or partnered, whether they have children, whether they live at home or need to live away from home, and whether the person is a student who has been a long-term income support recipient.

Austudy payment is paid to students aged 25 years and over whose financial circumstances are such that without financial help, full-time study would not be possible. The rate of Austudy is dependent on whether the person is single or partnered, whether they have children, and whether the person is a student who has been a long-term income support recipient. An individual and (if applicable) partner income and assets test applies.

ABSTUDY payment is paid to students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent according to the ABSTUDY definition of Aboriginality who are studying an approved course at an approved educational institution and who are not receiving other government assistance for study.

Eligible students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or Pensioner Education Supplement, who live away from home to study, can receive a Fares Allowance which contributes to their travel costs.

FTB is an alternative payment to Youth Allowance. It may be available to help families with the cost of raising a young person who is not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment. It may be payable for a young person up to 21 years of age, or aged 21-24 years who is studying full time (see Family assistance (for more information).

Table 7.16 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on youth and student support.


7.16 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR YOUTH AND STUDENT SUPPORT(a)

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Youth Allowance (YA)
Full-time studentsno.
304,946
297,140
285,383
274,050
Other(b)no.
87,486
84,665
79,573
75,186
Total YA populationno.
392,432
381,805
364,956
349,236
Payments - Full-time students$'000
n.a.
n.a.
1,670,733
1,565,670
Payments - Other$'000
n.a.
n.a.
503,444
535,595
Total YA payments$'000
2,235,020
2,257,447
2,174,177
2,101,265
Austudy
Recipientsno.
38,779
35,026
31,174
28,836
Total payments$'000
270,623
258,848
227,059
217,765
ABSTUDY
Recipients(c)no.
54.545
55,478
54,693
54,214
Total payments$'000
146,018
161,129
150,403
154,973
Fares Allowance
Payments$'000
1,304
1,176
1,496
1,127

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Job seekers and part-time students - including those undertaking full-time training/agreement study.
(c) Recipient numbers for ABSTUDY are reported on a whole of calendar year basis.
Note: Australian Apprentices became eligible for income support from 1 July 2005 and are included in the above figures.
Source: Department of Education, Science and Training, and Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


Support for people with disability

Prior to 1 July 2006 Disability Support Pension (DSP) was the main form of income support for people with a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment that prevents them from working for at least 30 hours per week for wages that are at or above the relevant minimum wages, or being retrained for such work, for at least two years.

However, as a result of the Australian Government's Welfare to Work measures which were announced in the 2005-06 Budget and passed into legislation in December 2005, from 1 July 2006 the hours threshold has been reduced to 15 hours per week for new claimants. This means that people with disabilities claiming income support who have a part-time work capacity of 15-29 hours per week will not be eligible for DSP. Instead, these people will generally be eligible for Newstart or Youth Allowance, with modified activity requirements tailored to reflect their assessed level of work capacity. The Welfare to Work measures also included substantially increased funding for the provision of vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance to help people with disabilities to maximise their ability to work. These changes do not affect people who are permanently blind.

DSP is income and assets tested. However, recipients who are permanently blind are exempt from the income test as well as the Work Capacity Test. DSP for people aged 21 years and over is paid at the same rate as Age Pension. Youth rates apply to those aged under 21 years. These are largely tied to Youth Allowance rates, but include a supplement of $94.70 per fortnight in recognition of the additional costs faced by people with disabilities. DSP youth rates are not subject to parental income or assets tests.

Other support for people with a disability includes Mobility Allowance and Sickness Allowance. Mobility Allowance is intended to help those who are involved in paid work, vocational training or voluntary work or a combination of these, who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance. The current rate is $71.40 per fortnight. From 1 July 2006 a second tier of Mobility Allowance at $100 per fortnight is available. It aims to meet the higher travel costs of those already in work for more than 15 hours per week at award wages and those seeking work. Sickness Allowance may be paid to people aged between 21 years and Age Pension age, who are temporarily unable to work or continue with their full-time study due to illness or injury but who have a job or study to return to. Wife Pension (DSP) is for female partners of DSP recipients who were on payment as at 30 June 1995. It has been closed to new entrants since 1 July 1995.

Table 7.17 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on support for people with disability.


7.17 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY(a)

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Disability Support Pension
Malesno.
412,777
418,829
420,073
415,618
Femalesno.
260,557
277,913
286,709
296,545
Personsno.
673,334
696,742
706,782
712,163
Total payments$'000
6,851,608
7,492,532
7,910,767
8,256,566
Mobility Allowance
Recipientsno.
44,239
46,847
49,215
51,669
Total payments$'000
74,975
82,163
85,562
95,872
Sickness Allowance
Recipientsno.
8,755
8,478
8,367
7,510
Total payments$'000
85,528
85,375
89,407
85,415

(a) Number of customers in June.
Source: Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


Compensation and income support provided to veterans and their families

Compensation Pension is paid to veterans for the effects of war-caused injury or disease resulting from eligible war or defence service. The injuries or diseases must have been caused or aggravated by war service or certain defence service on behalf of Australia. Disability pension is paid at varying rates depending on the person’s incapacity and lifestyle.

General Rate Disability Pension is payable to a veteran as compensation for the impairment and lifestyle effects of war or defence service. The general rate of pension is payable according to the degree of impairment of the person in increments of 10% up to 100%.

Extreme Disablement Adjustment is payable to a veteran who is severely incapacitated due to war-caused or defence-caused injury or disease, has reached 65 years of age and is not eligible to receive the Special or Intermediate Rate.

Intermediate Rate Pension is payable to a veteran suffering incapacity from war or defence-caused disabilities in which the veteran is only able to undertake part-time or intermittent employment up to 20 hours per week.

Special (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) Rate Pension is payable to a veteran whose incapacity from war or defence-caused disabilities prevent the veteran from working more than eight hours per week. Any veteran who is blind because of war or defence-caused conditions is also eligible for a special rate pension.

War Widow(er)’s Pension is payable to compensate widowed partners of veterans who have died as a result of war service or eligible defence service or before his or her death received a certain rate of disability pension or was an Australian prisoner of war.

Various ancillary benefits may also be provided and dependent children of defence force members who have been killed or severely injured have access to educational guidance and counselling from the Veterans' Children Education Boards.

Table 7.18 shows the number of disability and war widows' pensioners and total expenditure in pensions.


7.18 DISABILITY AND WAR WIDOWS’ PENSIONERS(a)

RecipientUnits
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Incapacitated veteransno.
157,865
154,602
150,615
145,546
General Rate - from 10% to 100%no.
114,872
110,577
106,139
101,399
Extreme Disablement Adjustmentno.
14,256
14,603
14,723
14,259
Intermediate Rateno.
965
973
967
933
Special Rate (TPI or equivalent)no.
27,772
28,449
28,786
28,955
Wives and widows(b)no.
43,078
39,399
35,878
32,666
Childrenno.
243
206
170
131
War widows and widowers(c)no.
114,235
114,418
114,239
112,882
Orphansno.
298
270
239
222
Other dependantsno.
576
555
539
517
Total(d)no.
314,358
307,514
299,774
290,089
Total expenditure(e)$'000
2,615,170
2,733,604
2,806,389
2,869,958

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Wives of incapacitated veterans and widows of deceased veterans who have not died from an accepted war caused condition.
(c) Widows and widowers of deceased veterans who have died from an accepted war caused condition.
(d) The totals do not equal the sum of the components due to overlaps.
(e) Includes associated allowances.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


The Veterans' Children Education Scheme provides financial help, guidance and counselling to certain students up to 25 years of age (table 7.19). To be eligible a student must be the child of a veteran, an Australian mariner, or a member of the Forces, who is (or has been) in receipt of a Special Rate or Extreme Disablement Adjustment Disability Pension. Children of former prisoners of war, of veterans, or of Australian mariners whose death has been accepted as war-caused, are also eligible.


7.19 VETERANS’ CHILDREN EDUCATION SCHEME, Number of education beneficiaries and expenditure(a)

Type of trainingUnits
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

At school
Primary(b)no.
1,263
1,181
1,189
1,096
Secondaryno.
2,440
2,512
2,171
2,035
Totalno.
3,703
3,693
3,360
3,131
Tertiaryno.
1,572
1,424
1,443
1,297
Totalno.
5,275
5,117
4,803
4,428
Total expenditure$'000
19,236
19,510
18,242
17,778

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Receive an annual payment rather than fortnightly payment like others.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


The main income support pensions payable to veterans and their dependants are the Age Service Pension, Invalidity Service Pension, Partner Service Pension and the Income Support Supplement.

Age Service Pension (ASP) is payable to male veterans with qualifying service at 60 years of age. The ASP is similar to the age pension paid by Centrelink but is granted five years earlier than the age pension paid by Centrelink. The Government has introduced changes to the minimum age at which a female veteran can be granted an ASP. Under the changes, the minimum age is to be progressively lifted from 55 to 60 years in six-monthly increments every two years over the period 1995-2013.

Invalidity Service Pension is payable to veterans with qualifying service if they are permanently incapacitated for work.

Partner Service Pension is payable on the basis that the person is the partner or widow(er) of a veteran with qualifying service.

Income Support Supplement (ISS) is payable to war or defence widow(er)s of service pension age. ISS may also be paid to a widow(er) under service pension age if he or she has a dependent child, is caring for a severely handicapped person or is permanently incapacitated for work.

All recipients of income support payments are eligible for supplementary benefits, provided by the Australian Government, including some medical and hospital treatment, pharmaceutical benefits and the payment of a telephone allowance. They are also entitled to a range of concessions provided by state/territory and local governments.

A number of additional supplementary benefits and allowances are also available to eligible veterans and their dependants including the Defence Force Income Support Allowance, Rent Assistance, Remote Area Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Seniors Concession Allowance and Bereavement Payment.

Table 7.20 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on service pensions.


7.20 SERVICE PENSIONS, Number of beneficiaries and expenditure(a)

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Veterans
Old ageno.
129,382
119,803
111,491
103,273
Permanently incapacitatedno.
18,144
18,854
19,160
19,121
Tuberculosis(b)no.
91
83
68
64
Totalno.
147,617
138,740
130,719
122,458
Wives and widowsno.
119,887
114,011
108,598
103,110
Totalno.
267,504
252,751
239,317
225,568
Total expenditure(c)$'000
2,802,200
2,830,518
2,816,425
2,824,208

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Eligibility on these grounds ceased on 2 November 1978.
(c) Includes associated allowances.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


OTHER COMMUNITY SUPPORT PROGRAMS

In addition to the direct monetary support provided to individuals, governments also support the community through the provision of services, either directly or by subsidising the activities of third parties. These services are provided by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and local governments. The main services that the Australian Government has responsibility for are described in the remainder of this section.

National Strategy for an Ageing Australia

Recognising the significant implications of population ageing across a number of public policy areas, the Australian Government has developed the National Strategy for an Ageing Australia. It provides a framework to address current issues facing older people and to prepare for the ageing of Australia’s population over the next 50 years.

The main themes of the National Strategy are:

  • retirement income - pensions and superannuation
  • a changing workforce - employment for mature age workers
  • attitude, lifestyle and community support issues - housing, transport, lifelong learning and volunteering
  • healthy ageing - health promotion, maintaining health and wellbeing through physical, mental and social activity
  • world-class health and aged care.

Aged care programs

Aged care programs support healthy ageing for older Australians, provide quality, cost-effective care for frail older people, and give support to their carers. Australia’s aged care programs include residential care and community care, as well as a range of associated programs.

Assessment for aged care

Using a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach, Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) assess people’s care needs and their eligibility for residential aged care and some community aged care services. Clients’ medical, physical, social, psychological and restorative care needs are assessed before they are referred to the care they need. A person must be assessed as eligible by an ACAT before he or she can receive subsidised residential care, a Community Aged Care Package, an Extended Aged Care at Home Package, or some other forms of flexible care.

In 2005-06 the Australian Government provided $55.6m to state and territory governments for the operation of 115 ACATs throughout Australia.

Care in the community

Home and Community Care (HACC)

The HACC program is a joint initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments. The Australian Government contributes approximately 60% of HACC funding and maintains a broad strategic role. States and territories contribute approximately 40% of program funding and manage the program on a day-to-day basis. Australian Government funding available for HACC in 2005-06 was $857.8m. Total combined Australian, state and territory funding for 2005-06 was $1.409b.

The HACC program aims to provide a comprehensive, coordinated and integrated range of maintenance and support services for frail aged people, people with a disability and their carers. It helps people to be more independent at home and in the community. This enhances their quality of life and may prevent inappropriate admission to long-term residential care.

The HACC program funds care services, including nursing, personal care, domestic assistance, delivered meals, day care, transport, home modification and maintenance, and respite care. These services may delay or prevent the need for residential care.

Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs)

The CACPs provide care in the home for frail older people who have complex care needs requiring care planning and case management. CACPs are tailored to meet the needs of each individual. Services may include personal care assistance, assistance with meals, domestic assistance, and transport to help the person shop or visit a medical practitioner. To be eligible for a CACP, the care recipient must be assessed by an ACAT as requiring low level residential care, have a preference to remain at home, and be able to do so.

Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH)

EACH packages provide care to frail older people who have been assessed by ACAT as eligible for high level residential care, but have expressed a preference to live at home and are able to do so. An EACH package typically provides about 18-22 hours of assistance each week, tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Packages are flexible in content but generally include nursing input, particularly in their design and management. Services provided include clinical care, personal assistance, meal preparation, continence management, assistance with leisure activities, emotional support, therapy services, and home safety and modification. Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia packages, introduced in 2005-06, provide care in the home specifically for people with dementia.

Residential aged care back

The residential aged care program seeks to enhance the quality of life of frail older Australians through a cohesive framework of high quality and cost-effective residential care services.

The Australian Government subsidises the costs for each person in residential aged care. The level of funding depends on the care needs of the resident. Residents can be asked to pay fees and charges, some of which are based on the resident's assets and income.

To receive Australian Government funding, each aged care home must meet specific care and building standards and be accredited by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency.

Transition care

Transition care provides short-term support and active management to help older people complete their recovery process after a hospital stay, before they return home or enter an aged care home. Delivered in collaboration with state and territory governments, transition care can be provided in either a residential or community setting. The first transition care places were allocated in 2004-05, many services began to deliver care in 2005-06 and a total of 2,000 places will be allocated by June 2007.

Other aged care programs

Other aged care programs include the National Respite for Carers Program, Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged, Commonwealth Carelink, Day Therapy Centres, a range of dementia care, education and support programs, and programs to assist in the management of continence and the provision of continence aids. All of these programs are directed towards assisting frail aged people and younger people with a disability to remain in their own homes.

Places and funding

Aged care places are allocated in proportion to the number of people aged 70 years and older. At 30 June 2006, there were 105.8 operational aged care places per 1,000 Australians aged 70 years and over. Table 7.21 shows the number of operational aged care places at 30 June in each of the years 2002 to 2006.


7.21 OPERATIONAL AGED CARE PLACES(a)
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006

Residential care
146,002
150,786
156,056
161,165
165,782
Community care(b)
26,403
27,850
29,779
32,588
38,492
Transition care
. .
. .
. .
. .
595
Total
172,405
178,636
185,835
193,753
204,869

(a) As at June; includes flexible care places attributed as residential or community care.
(b) Includes Community Aged Care Packages and, from 2004, Extended Aged Care at Home Packages.
Source: Department of Health and Ageing.


Younger people with disabilities in residential aged care

The Helping Younger People in Residential Aged Care program was announced by the Council of Australian Governments on 10 February 2006 as part of a $1.1b package of reforms to Australia's health system.

The new $244m program commenced in July 2006 (subject to the signing of the bilateral agreements) with funding of up to $122m coming from the Australian Government and up to $122m coming from state and territory governments.

The program is being developed jointly with state and territory governments and the Australian Governments through bilateral agreements.

Once implemented, responsibility for the day-to-day management of the program will rest with state and territory governments while the Australian Government will retain an ongoing monitoring role.

Australian Government expenditure on residential aged care is shown in table 7.22.


7.22 AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE ON RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE

Residential care (recurrent)(a)

Capital grants

2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

NSW
1,543.0
1,620.7
1,749.3
1,849.8
4.5
3.1
6.9
11.9
Vic.
1,046.9
1,122.9
1,237.2
1,316.8
3.6
5.2
5.1
9.7
Qld
774.7
819.0
903.0
953.7
4.2
4.2
7.8
8.1
SA
347.8
454.4
505.8
550.3
3.9
2.1
4.0
1.8
WA
417.6
369.7
414.0
441.1
2.6
0.6
1.4
2.2
Tas.
125.1
129.8
140.7
147.2
3.8
2.1
1.3
6.5
NT
36.1
14.8
15.9
17.7
0.7
. .
2.1
0.5
ACT
19.1
44.1
48.0
51.6
0.1
. .
. .
. .
Aust.(b)
4,310.3
4,592.1
5,021.5
5,333.6
23.3
17.3
28.6
40.7

(a) To enable comparison between years, these figures exclude a 'one-off' payment of $3,500 per resident ($518.7m) in 2003-04 and a $1,000 per resident payment ($152.0m) in 2004-05.
(b) Includes expenditure by the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, in accrual terms. Actual expenditures may change slightly due to late claims and adjustments.
Source: Department of Health and Ageing.


Table 7.23 shows Australian Government expenditure on selected other aged care programs.


7.23 EXPENDITURE FOR SELECTED AGED CARE PROGRAMS

2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
$'000
$'000
$'000
$'000

Community care programs
Home and Community Care(a)
674.1
732.8
791.9
857.8
Community Aged Care Packages
287.9
308.6
327.8
356.6
Extended Aged Care at Home(b)
10.4
15.4
33.3
66.5
Other aged care programs
Aged Care Assessment
40.5
47.1
51.6
55.6
Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged
2.6
2.7
2.7
2.7
National Respite for Carers Program
92.0
99.7
99.3
138.7
Commonwealth Carelink Centres
12.1
13.9
13.9
16.4
Dementia Specific Programs(c)
7.7
8.8
9.7
22.9
Day Therapy Centres
31
31.6
32.5
33.2
National Continence Management Strategy
4.8
8.7
5.5
3.5

(a) State and territory governments also contribute to Home and Community Care funding; combined expenditure in 2005-06 was $1,409m.
(b) 2005-06 includes Extended Care at Home (Dementia) packages.
(c) Excludes national dementia initiatives funded under the National Respite for Carers Program.
Source: Department of Health and Ageing.


Family assistance and community support

The Stronger Families and Communities Strategy is an Australian Government initiative giving families, their children and communities the opportunity to build a better future. The Strategy has an appropriation of nearly $500m (for the period 2004-09) and builds on the achievements of the first Strategy (2000-04).

The renewed Strategy has a specific early childhood focus and has been aligned with four key areas identified in the developing National Agenda for Early Childhood (the National Agenda) - healthy young families with young children; early learning and care; supporting families and parenting; and child-friendly communities. The National Agenda is a policy framework to guide current and future activity across Australia which supports optimal child development during the first eight years of a child's life, including before birth. The National Agenda promotes early intervention and prevention as an important strategy for improving the life chances of all children, including addressing underlying social and economic factors that affect children's lives.

The strategy comprises four initiatives:
  • Communities for Children - $142m over five years
  • Early Childhood - Invest to Grow - $70m over four years
  • Local Answers and Volunteer Small Equipment Grants - $151m over five years
  • Choice and Flexibility in Child Care - $125m over four years.

Local Answers funds the Volunteer Small Equipment Grants initiative.

A longitudinal study of child health and development is also funded by the Strategy.

The Early Childhood Programs include both the Responding Early Assisting Children (REACh) Program and the Indigenous Children Program (ICP). REACh and ICP are early intervention and prevention measures working towards meeting the Australian Government's objective of supporting families and children in disadvantaged communities, to provide positive experiences for children in their early years. The Early Childhood Programs are funded on a continuing basis. Funding for 2006-07 is approximately $10.8m.

Youth support

There are a range of youth and community support programs to help disadvantaged young people to improve their level of engagement and to overcome barriers to participation with their families and the community including:
  • Strengthening and Supporting Families Coping with Illicit Drug Use
  • Reconnect
  • New Arrived Youth Support Services
  • Mentor Marketplace
  • YouthLinx
  • Transition to Independent Living Allowance.

Other initiatives to help create opportunities for and promote the engagement and greater participation of young people in community activities include the National Youth Roundtable, the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Group and National Youth Week.

Youth programs and initiatives aim to raise the profile and positive image of young people in the community. This is largely done through research on families and young people to inform policy and program development, and liaison between Australian Government agencies to help improve services for young people on a range of issues affecting them including mental health, education and work.

Child support

The Child Support Agency (CSA) is the agency that manages the assessment, collection and enforcement of child support liabilities. It aims to ensure that parents continue to financially support their children after separation, according to their capacity to do so. Parents may transfer their assessed liability privately, or have it collected and transferred through CSA.

The total amount transferred between parents in 2004-05 was $2.38b, an increase of $190m over the previous financial year. This includes child support assessed by CSA and transferred directly between parents, as well as child support assessed and collected by CSA. In addition, Child Support associated with parents who elect to transfer payments privately amounted to approximately $1.5b in 2004-05.

Housing support

Housing support policies are in place to assist low and moderate income householders to access appropriate affordable housing, and provide supporting initiatives to assist homeless people. Housing assistance programs are discussed further in the Housing chapter.

Volunteering

Volunteering is an essential part of the Australian Government’s objective to promote social and economic participation, and to strengthen connections within communities. The Australian Government supports volunteering through a number of programs such as:
  • the Volunteer Small Equipment Grants (administered by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA))
  • the Volunteer Management Program which funds 26 Volunteer Resource Centres throughout Australia (administered by FaCSIA)
  • the Voluntary Work Initiative (administered by DEWR).

Retirement planning assistance

The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI) is an independent body funded by the Australian Government to provide the public with free information on financial investments, financial industry services and saving for retirement. NICRI can assist customers to provide for their retirement and to make the investment choices that are best for them.

The Financial Information Service (FIS) provided by specialist Centrelink officers, is an education and information service available to everyone in the community. FIS is independent, free and confidential, and helps people make informed decisions about investment and financial issues for their current and future financial needs.

The Australian Government produces a range of booklets which provide practical and easy-to-read information on topics such as investment options, accommodation choices, and government programs and services to assist seniors and those planning for retirement.

Working age assistance

The Australian's Working Together initiative provides assistance to people of workforce age including job seekers, parents, people with disabilities, the unemployed, mature-age people and Indigenous Australians. Initiatives include a Working Credit to encourage people on income support to take up full-time, part-time or irregular casual work; Training Credits; the Language, Literacy and Numeracy supplement; more places in employment services; and initiatives to assist Indigenous Australians.

Other programs include the Personal Support Program and JET. The Government also funds Personal advisors who provide extra help to a range of eligible customers including those at a high risk of long-term dependency on income support.

Many of these initiatives will be superseded by the Australian Government's Welfare to Work measures announced in the 2005-06 Budget that took effect from 1 July 2006.

Support for people with disability

The Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement provides the national framework for the provision of government support to services for people with disability. Under the three agreements signed so far (the first in 1991), state and territory governments have responsibility for the planning, policy setting and management of accommodation support, community support, community access and respite care services for people with disability. The Australian Government has similar responsibilities for specialised employment assistance. Both levels of government are responsible for support for advocacy and print disability services.

The Disability Employment Assistance Program provides funding under the Disability Services Act 1986 (Cwlth) for services that help people with disabilities to find employment. The target group is people who have an intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological or physical impairment that is likely to be permanent and results in the need for ongoing support in employment.

Support for people with disabilities is also provided through rehabilitation services to improve function and independence in people with a disability so they can gain or retain suitable employment, or live independently. In addition, assistance is provided through the following programs:
  • the Postal Concessions for the Blind Program
  • the Print Disability Services Program
  • the National Disability Advocacy Program
  • the Auslan Interpreter Booking and Payment Service, and
  • National Disability Conference Funding.

Support for carers

The 2004-05 Budget provided $72.5m over four years for additional services for older parent carers of people with disability, subject to matching by state and territory governments. The additional respite for older carers measure is implemented through bilateral agreements with state and territory governments under the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement.

From January 2005, young carers have been able to access targeted services, including respite and age appropriate information, referral and advice to help them stay in education while also providing care.

In October 2005, the Australian Government announced a $230.5m package to assist parents wishing to make private financial provisions for the current or future care and accommodation for their son or daughter with severe disability. The major component of the package allows parents and immediate family members, from 20 September 2006, to place up to $500,000 into a trust for the current and future care and accommodation of the person with severe disability without being affected by social security means tests and gifting rules. Other assistance provided in the package includes access to mediation and counselling services for families, financial information kits and more research.

From 1 July 2006, the Government will start to establish a number of new peer support groups specifically aimed at parents of young children with disabilities at a cost of $9m over four years. This will improve outcomes for these parents by giving them the opportunity to socialise with and learn from other people in similar family situations.

Services provided to veterans and members of the ADF and their families

Defence Service Homes (DSH) Scheme

The DSH Scheme provides financial benefits to recognise the contribution of certain men and women who have served Australia in either peacetime or wartime. The benefits include housing loan interest subsidies, comprehensive homeowners insurance cover at competitive rates, and home contents insurance (table 7.24).


7.24 DEFENCE SERVICE HOMES SCHEME

Units
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Subsidised loans
Loans grantedno.
2,936
2,565
1,955
1,856
Loan accounts at 30 Juneno.
51,120
45,755
41,393
37,509
Interest subsidy$m
10.5
9.2
7.5
7.0
Building insurance
Homes insured at 30 Juneno.
104,509
100,022
95,843
91,352

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Military Compensation (MC)

The objective of MC is to ensure that current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), who suffer an injury or disease which is related to service in the ADF, are provided with compensation and rehabilitation benefits and services. The DVA is responsible for providing benefits through the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) (Cwlth) for injuries and diseases related to service prior to 1 July 2004 and through the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) (Cwlth). Table 7.25 summarises activities under these Acts for 2005-06.


7.25 MILITARY COMPENSATION AND REHABILITATION SERVICE, Activities - 2005-06
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)
no.
no.

Total lump sum and incapacity payees for 12 months ended 30 June 2006 (incl. dependent children)
4,756
174
New primary injury claims received
3,492
1,516
New permanent impairment claims received
3,827
146
New rehabilitation referrals received
894
59
New reconsideration requests received
1,271
57
New applications made to the AAT(c)
363
1
All accounts paid (incl. medical household services and attendant care)
110,273
1,709

(a) Benefits paid through the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) (Cwlth).
(b) Benefits paid through the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) (Cwlth).
(c) Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Source: Department of Veterans' Affairs.


Health program

Health-care treatment is provided to people whose disabilities have been accepted by DVA as service-related, and for pulmonary tuberculosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and malignant neoplasia whether they are service-related or not. Vietnam veterans with anxiety and depression and Gulf War veterans with undiagnosable conditions are also eligible for health-care treatment whether the conditions are service-related or not.

In addition, and subject to certain conditions, health-care treatment in Australia is provided to certain veterans of Australia's defence forces for all health conditions. War widow(er)s and certain other dependants of deceased veterans are also entitled to treatment for all conditions.

Other services include:
  • vocational rehabilitation services
  • acute hospital care
  • dental and pharmaceutical assistance
  • transport assistance
  • Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service (VVCS).

The VVCS provides counselling to veterans of all conflicts and their families, as well as working with the ex-service community to promote understanding and acceptance of veterans' problems.

Access to counselling services for rural veterans and their families was greatly improved with the establishment of the Country Outreach Program in 1988, followed soon after by a toll-free 1800 telephone link to all VVCS centres. Table 7.26 shows use of the VVCS.


7.26 VIETNAM VETERANS’ COUNSELLING SERVICE

Type of counsellingUnits
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06

Centre-based consultationvisits
30,210
27,550
23,864
23,400
Group session consultationhours
14,792
13,709
13,140
12,050
Country outreach consultationvisits
36,314
39,518
41,178
38,839

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


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