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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003   
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Contents >> Income and Welfare >> Income support programs: Dept. Family & Community Services(FaCS)

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 helps people with the cost of raising dependent children. It is paid to families with children up to 21 years and young people between 21 and 24 who are studying full-time (and not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment).

Family Tax Benefit Part B provides extra assistance for families with only one main income earner, particularly those with children under five. It is paid to families for children up to the age of 16 and children aged between 16 and 18 years who are studying full-time.

During 2001-02, Family Tax Benefit Part A was paid to 1.8 million families to provide support for 3.5 million children, and Family Tax Benefit Part B was paid to 1.2 million families to provide support for 2.3 million children.

Both payments are administered by the Family Assistance Office and are available as a direct payment from Centrelink, either fortnightly or as a lump sum, or via tax instalment deductions or an end of year lump sum payment through the tax system. Both payments are subject to income tests. Some Family Tax Benefit 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.

Maternity Allowance is a one-off lump sum paid at around the time of the birth of a baby, designed to help meet the costs associated with the birth. Claimants must be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A. There is also a Maternity Immunisation one-off payment. To be eligible for this, claimants must have been paid Maternity Allowance or be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Double Orphan Pension is a not means tested and is a payment for children with at least one deceased parent, who cannot have contact with the other parent (for example, because that parent is a long-term prisoner or their whereabouts is unknown).

Table 7.9 shows the number of recipients and expenditure for Family Assistance.


7.9 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR FAMILY ASSISTANCE(a)

Units
2000-01
2001-02

Family Tax Benefit
Centrelink
Recipients(b)
Part A - fortnightly instalments
no.
1,801,285
1,795,355
Part B - fortnightly instalments
no.
1,181,069
1,199,233
Lump sum payments(c)
no.
n.a.
40,319
Total payments (Part A and Part B)
$'000
10,076,463
10,927,703
Australian Taxation Office
Recipients(b)
Paid by tax instalment deduction or on assessment
no.
n.a.
80,326
Reconciliation credits
no.
n.a.
n.a.
Payments
Paid by tax instalment deduction or on assessment(d)
$'000
(e)11,000
171,380
Reconciliation credits(d)
$'000
n.a.
164,570
Maternity Allowance
Recipients
no.
210,120
212,237
Payments
$'000
217,899
216,887
Maternity Immunisation Allowance
Recipients
no.
203,939
206,803
Payments(f)
$'000
n.a.
n.a.
Double Orphan Pension
Recipients
no.
1,242
1,207
Payments
$'000
1,977
1,976

(a) Refers to total payments in the year ending 30 June.
(b) Recipients who claimed assistance using more than one payment method for the year are included in each category.
(c) Includes recipients of Family Tax Benefits reconciliation credits.
(d) Data are presented on an accruals accounting basis. Most Australian Taxation Office payments of Family Tax Benefit are paid on assessment of taxation returns. Thus, most payments made in 2001-02 relate to the taxpayer's entitlements for the previous financial year.
(e) Estimated.
(f) Separate expenditure figures are not available for Maternity Allowance and Maternity Immunisation Allowance.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services; Department of the Treasury.


Youth and Student Support

Youth and student support policy is aimed at promoting a family orientation in developing youth policy. It is formulated to help low- to middle-income families by providing income support for young people undertaking education or training or seeking work. The policy is also trying to develop new partnership arrangements within and across levels of government and with community organisations to support innovations in youth and family support arrangements around young people’s transitions to independence and adulthood.

Youth Allowance is the main income support payment for people aged 16-20 years actively seeking employment and for full-time students 16-24 years old. It is subject to an individual income and assets test and a parental income and assets test. A person may be exempt from the parental test if they meet the Youth Allowance independence criteria. In addition a person must undertake approved activities that may include full-time study or a combination of activities such as job search, work for the dole, literacy and numeracy courses, part-time education, part-time employment and voluntary work. People on Youth Allowance may be required to undertake Mutual Obligation activities.

The rate of Youth Allowance is determined on whether the person is single, partnered, if they have children, if they live at home or need to live away from home.

Austudy payment is paid to students 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 ‘long-term income support student’.

There is also a Student Financial Supplement Scheme that gives students the option of increasing their income while studying. Students surrender one dollar of income support for two dollars of fully refundable repayable loan that is repaid on an income contingent basis. The scheme helps remove barriers to participation in education.

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

Table 7.10 shows the number of Youth and Student Support recipients and expenditure by payment type.


7.10 RECIPIENTS AND EXPENDITURE FOR YOUTH AND STUDENT SUPPORT

Units
May 1999
June 2000
June 2001
June 2002

Youth Allowance
Full-time students
no.
303,747
308,883
308,549
308,169
Other
no.
84,156
83,071
86,404
87,327
Total
no.
387,903
391,954
394,953
395,496
Total payments(a)
$'000
1,843,498
2,002,830
2,101,915
2,213,719
Austudy
Recipients
no.
47,170
42,838
41,992
41,007
Total payments(a)
$'000
287,173
253,870
249,258
280,794
Student financial supplement payments(a)
$'000
259,745
290,681
161,510
500,967
Fare allowance payments(a)
$'000
690
569
644
525

(a) Year ending 30 June.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


Child Care Support

Child Care Support policies have been developed to help families to participate in the economic and social life of the community through providing support for child care.

Child Care Benefit (CCB), which replaced Childcare Assistance and the Childcare rebate from 1 July 2000, 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. Families using registered carers (i.e. informal care provided by a friend or neighbour), rather than formal care in an approved service, are eligible for the minimum rate of CCB. This is paid for up to 50 hours per week of work-related child care.

The Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Program helps some people on particular payments from Centrelink (including parents, widows, carers) gain new skills or update existing skills, and improve their chances of gaining employment. JET Child Care provides extra assistance to eligible customers who need help finding suitable affordable child care. Assistance is provided through the JET child care network and is called Child Care for Eligible Parents Undergoing Training.

Table 7.11 shows the number of Child Care Support recipients and expenditure by payment type.


7.11 RECIPIENTS(a) AND EXPENDITURE FOR CHILD CARE SUPPORT

1999
2000
2001
2002
no.
$'000
no.
$'000
no.
$'000
no.
$'000

Child Care Benefit(b)
Approved service
. .
. .
. .
. .
630,156
1,037,137
n.a.
1,315,912
Registered carers
. .
. .
. .
. .
47,236
. .
n.a.
. .
Child Care for Eligible Parents Undergoing Training
5,395
4,599
8,592
11,050
13,276
7,301
(c)18,352
11,067

(a) Number of families.
(b) Families can receive Child Care Benefit for both approved child care and registered care.
(c) Does not include five months of data for NT and seven months of data for ACT.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


Labour Market Assistance

Labour Market Assistance policies are designed to help support people of working age through providing income support to those seeking work or undertaking other activities such as training or community work or caring for children. Most income support payments are subject to a means test, which assesses family income and assets.

There are two main income support payments for Labour Market Assistance: Newstart Allowance (NSA) and Parenting Payment.

NSA is paid to people aged 21-64 years who are unemployed and actively searching for work. They must be willing to undertake suitable paid work, which includes full-time, part-time or casual employment. They may also qualify if undertaking a vocational training course, participating in a labour market program or undertaking other agreed activities.

NSA jobseekers may be asked to undertake Mutual Obligation activities, in addition to their job search, after six months of unemployment and annually thereafter. Mutual Obligation requires people to take part in activities to improve their skills and work habits. It aims to enhance the person’s job prospects and competitiveness in the labour market, promotes involvement in community work and facilitates transition from welfare to employment. From 1 July 2002, Mutual Obligation requirements apply to all job seekers up to 49 years of age.

Parenting Payment is paid to single and partnered low-income parents who are primary carers for children under 16. The policy recognises the important contribution made by parents caring for children at home and aims to avoid parents future choices being limited by long periods out of the workforce.

Other payments for Labour Market Assistance include: Mature Age Allowance, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Bereavement Allowance and Special Benefit. Mature Age Allowance, Partner Allowance and Widow Allowance all recognise the labour market difficulties faced by some older unemployed people who have no recent workforce experience. Bereavement Allowance is a short-term payment for recently widowed people without dependent children, payable for up to 14 weeks. Special Benefit provides assistance to people in severe financial need and for whom no other pension, allowance or other support is available.

Pensioner Education Supplement, Education Entry Payment and Employment Entry Payment provide supplementary financial assistance to help with the costs of taking up study and entering the work force.

Table 7.12 shows the number of Labour Market Assistance recipients by expenditure and payment type.


7.12 LABOUR MARKET ASSISTANCE

Units
May 1999
June 2000
June 2001
June 2002

Newstart Allowance
Short-term (less than 12 months)
Males
no.
171,764
143,659
165,451
146,965
Females
no.
77,469
62,695
67,460
60,094
Persons
no.
249,233
206,554
232,911
207,059
Long-term (12 months and over)
Males
no.
273,366
247,366
222,548
222,789
Females
no.
106,290
98,959
85,545
94,024
Persons
no.
379,656
346,325
308,093
316,813
Total payments(a)
$'000
5,370,669
4,954,450
4,918,349
5,078,220
Parenting Payment
Single
Males
no.
(b)27,128
28,463
32,429
33,889
Females
no.
(b)357,814
368,851
392,187
402,750
Persons
no.
(b)384,942
397,314
424,616
436,639
Total payments(a)
$'000
3,266,957
3,407,804
3,861,774
4,145,834
Partnered(c)
Persons
no.
(b)622,321
595,837
214,721
201,585
Total payments(a)
$'000
2,135,987
2,086,426
1,463,907
1,425,884
Mature Age Allowance
Recipients
no.
47,360
42,106
39,296
39,906
Total payments(a)
$'000
401,698
367,250
352,596
364,210
Partner Allowance
Recipients
no.
81,804
89,580
92,438
100,833
Total payments(a)
$'000
590,185
646,460
728,679
817,599
Widow Allowance
Recipients
no.
27,822
32,982
36,908
40,910
Total payments(a)
$'000
227,289
270,825
324,919
389,550
Special Benefit
Recipients
no.
11,808
10,971
12,495
12,811
Total payments(a)
$'000
99,585
98,704
114,778
119,811
Bereavement Allowance
Recipients
no.
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
Total payments(a)
$'000
734
782
719
813
Pensioner Education Supplement
Recipients
no.
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
Total payments(a)
$'000
44,601
49,571
58,248
65,784

(a) Ending 30 June.
(b) Numbers for Parenting Payments are for June 1999.
(c) From 1 July 2000 the basic component of Parenting Payment (partnered) was incorporated into Family Tax Benefit. As a result 375,233 customers were transferred from Parenting Payment (partnered) to Family Tax Benefit Part B.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


Support for people with a disability

The policy to support people with disabilities is designed to promote independence and self-reliance through the provision of rehabilitation services, specialist employment services and other services for people with a disability. It also aims to help support people with a disability with limited means through the provision of income support.

Disability Support Pension (DSP) is the main form of income support for people with a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment resulting in an inability to work for at least 30 hours per week at award wages, or be retrained for work, for at least two years. DSP is income and assets tested. However, the permanently blind are exempt from the income 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 $85.30 per fortnight. Youth rates are not subject to parental income or assets tests.

From September 2002, the Better Assessment and Early Intervention Australians Working Together measure provides for an increased focus on the assessment of work capacity for people who are ill, injured or have a disability and on the early identification of interventions, such as rehabilitation and employment assistance, to help people maximise their economic and social participation.

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 some of these, who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance. Sickness Allowance may be paid to people between 21 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) provides an income for a woman who is a partner of a DSP recipient, is aged below Age Pension age and is not receiving any other payment in her own right. This payment is gradually being phased out, with new grants of Wife Pension ceasing after 30 June 1995.

Table 7.13 shows the number of recipients of support for people with a disability, and expenditure by payment type.


7.13 SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY

Units
June 1999
June 2000
June 2001
June 2002

Disability Support Pension
Males
no.
373,340
382,412
392,354
406,893
Females
no.
204,342
219,981
231,572
252,022
Persons
no.
577,682
602,393
623,926
658,915
Total payments(a)
$'000
4,920,223
5,253,241
5,849,799
6,404,351
Wife Pension (DSP)
Recipients
no.
68,523
59,172
51,225
44,238
Total payments(a)
$'000
534,069
479,205
446,564
401,969
Mobility Allowance
Recipients
no.
31,001
35,154
37,574
41,456
Total payments(a)
$'000
46,137
52,096
59,367
67,852
Sickness Allowance
Recipients
no.
(a)11,181
10,733
10,942
9 522
Total payments(a)
$'000
(a)93,043
83,881
95,554
93,724

(a) Ending 30 June.
(b) 1999 data for Sickness Allowance based on May 1999.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


Support for carers

There are two forms of Commonwealth 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 Payment is subject to income and assets tests and is paid at the same rate as other social security pensions.

Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment that is available to people who provide daily care and attention at home for an adult or child with a disability or severe medical condition. Carer Allowance is not income or assets tested. It can be paid in addition to a social security income support payment.

Table 7.14 shows the number of support for carer recipients and expenditure by payment type.


7.14 SUPPORT FOR CARERS(a)

Units
1999
2000
2001
2002

Carer Payment
Recipients
no.
40,070
47,550
57,190
67,260
Total payments
$'000
307,506
369,723
480,944
595,810
Carer Allowance(a)
Recipients
no.
. .
194,887
246,337
283,753
Total payments
$'000
. .
412,334
533,247
645,722

(a) Year ending 30 June.
(b) 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.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


Support for the aged

Policies relating to support for the aged are designed to help retirees make best use of their own financial resources to maintain their standard of living, and to support the aged with limited means through providing income support. They are also intended to provide information and foster opportunities for older people to participate in the community.

The principal form of support is the Age Pension. Age Pension age for men is 65 and for women is being progressively raised to 65 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 for those born on or after 1 January 1949.

Other payments available for older Australians include Wife Pension and Widow B Pension. 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. The concepts behind these payments have been updated to reflect a more modern society and consequently these payments have been closed to new entrants. From 1 July 1995 for Wife Pension, and from 21 March 1997 for Widow B Pension, payments have been confined to women already receiving the payment on those dates.

The ageing of the Australian population will increase the financial commitment of the Australian economy to support the aged. It is expected that Age Pension expenditure will increase from 3.0% of gross domestic product to 4.6% by 2050.

Table 7.15 shows the number of recipients and expenditure by payment type for support for the aged.


7.15 SUPPORT FOR AGED(a)

Units
1999
2000
2001
2002

Age Pension(b)
Males
no.
634,112
654,557
684,219
710,170
Females
no.
1,081,680
1,075,303
1,101,335
1,100,609
Persons
no.
1,715,792
1,729,860
1,785,554
1,810,779
Total payments(a)
$'000
13,569,056
14,037,940
15,616,477
16,665,653
Widow B Pension
Recipients
no.
10,518
8,892
6,456
5,130
Total payments(a)
$'000
105,694
89,849
84,296
59,787
Wife Pension (Age)(b)
Recipients
no.
32,196
31,406
26,476
23,730
Total payments(a)
$'000
243,433
240,751
233,080
216,160

(a) Year ending 30 June.
(b) Includes the Pension Savings Bonus Scheme from 1 July 1998 (first payments were made in 1999-2000); and amounts paid by the Department of Veterans' Affairs in relation to the Aged Pension, related Wife Pension and Disability Support Pension.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


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