Introduction to the income support program
The Australian income support system provides financial assistance to a variety of groups, including families, job seekers, the aged, people with a disability, carers, mature age people, students and Indigenous Australians. Almost two-thirds of Australian families with children or dependants benefit from family assistance and 4.4 million individuals are direct beneficiaries of the FaCS portfolio’s income support payments. Recent and ongoing reforms to the income support system in Australia aim to improve social and economic participation, while retaining a strong and effective safety net for people unable to support themselves.
The main income support payments provided by the Commonwealth for the financial years 1998-99 to 2001-02 are listed in table 7.7. Details of the payments in effect in the 2001-02 financial year, together with associated statistics, are presented in this chapter.
Most allowance types are adjusted once or twice a year in line with movements 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 (MTAWE), ensuring the single pension rate does not fall below 25% of MTAWE. Many income support payments are subject to income, assets and activity tests, to ensure that benefits are targeted to those in greatest need. Details of the rates in effect at 30 June 2002 are listed in table 7.8.
Since September 1997, Centrelink has delivered most income support payments on behalf of FaCS. Centrelink is a statutory agency established to deliver a range of Commonwealth services to the Australian community. It operates under the Commonwealth 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 delivers the Service Pension to eligible veterans and their families.
Numbers of income support customers referred to in this chapter generally relate to June of the reference year. These numbers are taken from extracts of administrative data as close to 30 June as possible. However, the dates of extracts can vary between payment types. All financial data refer to the full financial year.
7.7 INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS(a)
|Family Tax Payment(b)|
|Family Tax Benefit(b)|
|Double Orphan Pension |
|Youth and student support|
|Student Financial Supplement|
|Child care support|
|Child Care Benefit(d)|
|Child Care Cash Rebate(d)|
|Child Care for eligible parents undergoing training(e)|
|Labour market assistance|
|Mature Age Allowance|
|Pensioner Education Supplement|
|Support for people with a disability|
|Disability Support Pension|
|Wife Pension (DSP)|
|Support for carers|
|Support for the aged|
|Aged Persons Savings Bonus|
|One-off Payment to Seniors|
|Self Funded Retirees' Supplementary Bonus|
|Widow Class B Pension|
|Wife Pension (age)|
|Total Special Appropriations(g)|
|(a) Outlays on Pensions, Allowances and Family Tax Benefits include expenditure on Rent Assistance. Details of Rent Assistance are included in 'Chapter 8, Housing'.|
(b) Family tax benefit replaced Family Allowance and Family Tax Payment on 1 July 2000.
(c) Maternity Allowance includes Maternity Immunisation Allowance.
(d) Child Care Benefit commenced on 1 July 2000 and incorporated the Child Care Cash Rebate.
(e) Not included in the Special Appropriations total as they are Other Administered Expenses.
(f) 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.
(g) Components do not add to total as some minor allowances and appropriation adjustments are excluded. Payments under the 'State Grants Housing Act 1971' (Cwlth) are included in the total.
Source: Department of Family and Community Services.
7.8 MAXIMUM RATES FOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS - As at 30 June 2002
|Age Pension Savings Bonus|
|Single or partnered, no children|
|Single, with children|
|Partnered, with children|
|Child Care Benefit|
|Non-school age child|
|School age child|
|Non-school age child|
|School age child|
|Disability Support Pension(a)|
|Double Orphan Pension(a)|
|Education Entry Payment(e)|
|Family Tax Benefit Part A(a)|
|For each dependent child|
|Aged under 13 years|
|Aged 13-15 years|
|Aged 16-17 years|
|Aged 18-24 years|
|Family Tax Benefit Part B(a)|
|Age of youngest child|
|Aged under 5 years|
|Aged 5-15 years|
|Aged 16-18 years and full-time students|
|Maternity Allowance One-off lump sum, per birth|
|Maternity Immunisation Allowance One-off lump sum|
|Aged 21 or over, no children|
|Aged 21 or over, with children|
|Aged 60 or over, after 9 months|
|Pensioner Education Supplement(a)|
|At least 50% study load|
|At least 25% study load|
|Student Financial Supplement Scheme|
|Maximum loan, per year|
|Single, no children|
|Aged under 18 years, at home|
|Aged 18 years and over, at home|
|Away from home|
|Single with children|
|Partnered with no children|
|Partnered with children|
|(a) Per fortnight.|
(c) Per fortnight for a maximum of seven fortnights.
(d) Per hour.
Note: 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 and for Special Payment Generally as for Newstart/Youth Allowance.