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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Income and Welfare >> FaCS - Payments for families with children

On 3 July 2000, the Commonwealth Government launched the Family Assistance Office (FAO) to provide integrated payments, services and assistance to Australian families. The FAO offers families more choice by enabling them to deal with a single agency and one set of rules in over 560 locations around Australia. A Family Assistance Office has been set up in all Centrelink Customer Service Centres, Medicare Offices and Australian Tax Office (ATO) access offices and enquiry sites to deliver the Government's payments for families.

The Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) has overall responsibility for the FAO.


Family Tax Benefit

The reforms to family assistance from 1 July 2000 reduced ten different family payments and tax rebates to just two (Family Tax Benefit, Parts A and B) and introduced a consistent way of determining customers' entitlements. In addition, rates were increased and the income test was made more generous.

Family Tax Benefit Part A provides assistance to help families with the cost of raising children. It is paid to families with dependent children up to the age of 21, and/or older children between the ages of 21 to 24 years 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 aged under five years. It is paid to families for children up to the age of 16, and for children aged between 16 and 18 years who are studying full-time.

Both payments are administered by the FAO and are available either as fortnightly payments through Centrelink, or as a lump sum or reduced tax instalment deductions through the tax system.

Table 7.23 shows the number of family recipients of Family Tax Benefit at 30 June 2001 and the number of children involved.

7.23 RECIPIENTS OF FAMILY TAX BENEFIT AND RELATED PAYMENTS(a)

Families
no.
Children
no.

Family Tax Benefit Part A
Maximum rate (with income support payment)
509,785
962,202
Maximum rate (without income support payment)
127,231
243,831
Broken rate
406,105
874,747
Base rate
725,392
1,333,047
Below base rate
31,193
68,463
Total
1,799,706
3,482,290
Family Tax Benefit Part B
Maximum rate (for sole parents)
559,359
951,225
Maximum rate (for couples)
289,965
622,654
Broken rate (for couples)
331,716
702,254
Total
1,181,040
2,276,133
Maternity Allowance(b)
210,120
214,355
Maternity Immunisation Allowance(b)
203,939
207,547
Double Orphan Pension
1,242
1,630

(a) Number of recipients at 30 June 2001 unless subject to footnote (b).
(b) The number of customers who received a payment at any time during the financial year 2000-01.
Source: Department of Family and Community Services.


Child Support Scheme

The Child Support Scheme is a joint FaCS and Attorney-General's Department scheme, administered by the Child Support Agency (CSA).

The Child Support Scheme aims to improve financial support for children of separated parents by obtaining contributions from paying parents for the support of their children, in accordance with their capacity to pay. People may choose to collect child support privately, or have it collected by the CSA. Parents are required to take reasonable steps to obtain child support if they wish to receive Family Tax Benefit Part A at more than the basic rate.

In 2000-01, the total amount of child support transferred between parents was $1,400m, which benefited over one million children.


Maternity Allowance

Maternity Allowance is a one-off lump sum amount paid at around the time of the birth of a child to help meet the costs associated with the birth. To qualify for Maternity Allowance, a woman must be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A within thirteen weeks of the child being born. In the case of adopted children, claimants must be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A within thirteen weeks of the child being entrusted into their care, and the child must be under 26 weeks old at the date of the placement.

From 1 July 2001, the rate of Maternity Allowance was $780.00. In the case of multiple births, Maternity Allowance is paid for each child.

Table 7.23 shows the number of recipients of Maternity Allowance at any time in 2000-01 and the number of children involved.


Maternity Immunisation Allowance

Maternity Immunisation Allowance is a one-off lump sum paid for children who have been fully immunised before their second birthday. A child can be exempt from the immunisation requirements for medical reasons, or if a parent or guardian conscientiously objects. Claimants must have been paid Maternity Allowance for the child or be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A when the child meets the immunisation or exemption requirements. From 1 July 2001, the rate of Maternity Immunisation Allowance was $208.00.

Table 7.23 shows the number of recipients of Maternity Immunisation Allowance at any time in 2000-01 and the number of children involved.


Child Care Benefit

Child Care Benefit (CCB) helps families with the cost of child care by subsidising the cost of child care across a range of income levels, with financial assistance proportionately higher for lower income families.

Eligible families using approved child care services can choose how to receive their CCB. 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.


Double Orphan Pension

The Double Orphan Pension (DOP) is a non-means-tested payment for children whose parents or adoptive parents are both deceased. It is also payable where at least one parent is deceased and the child cannot have contact with the other parent (e.g. because that parent is a long term prisoner or their whereabouts are unknown). The payment can also be made to refugee children under certain circumstances.

From 1 July 2001, the rate of Double Orphan Pension was $41.10 per fortnight.

Table 7.23 shows the number of recipients of Double Orphan Pension at 30 June 2001 and the number of children involved.


Parenting Payment

The Parenting Payment was introduced in March 1998, incorporating the previous Sole Parent Pension and Parenting Allowance. It provides income support to people who are the primary carer of a dependent child. The payment has two streams:
  • Parenting Payment (single) which is payable to lone parents; and
  • Parenting Payment (partnered) which is payable to one of the parents in a couple.
Prior to 1 July 2000, Parenting Payment (partnered) included a component known as Basic Parenting Payment. This was income tested only on the income of the recipient, and was not assets tested. From 1 July 2000, this component of the payment was subsumed by Family Tax Benefit Part B.

To qualify for the Parenting Payment, a person must:
  • care for a dependent child or children aged under 16 years; and
  • have income and assets under certain amounts.
Table 7.24 shows the number of recipients of Parenting Payment (Single) at June 2001 and at corresponding points in the preceding three years. Table 7.25 provides corresponding information for the recipients of Parenting Payment (Partnered).

7.24 RECIPIENTS OF PARENTING PAYMENT (SINGLE)(a)

Units
June 1998
June 1999
June 2000
June 2001

Age group (years)
Under 20
no.
10,478
10,676
10,943
10,580
20-29
no.
114,570
116,760
118,655
121,752
30-39
no.
155,740
159,497
163,634
175,359
40-49
no.
80,626
86,298
91,142
102,277
50-59
no.
10,435
11,258
12,383
14,005
60 and over
no.
437
453
557
643
Males
no.
25,546
27,128
28,463
32,429
Females
no.
346,740
357,814
368,851
392,187
Persons
no.
372,286
384,942
397,314
424,616
Total payments in financial year ending 30 June
$’000
3,079,547
3,266,957
3,407,804
3,855,241

(a) Expenditure from 1998-99 onwards is reported on an accrual basis.

Source: Department of Family and Community Services.

7.25 RECIPIENTS OF PARENTING PAYMENT (PARTNERED)(a)

Units
June 1998
June 1999
June 2000
June 2001(b)

Non-benefit Parenting Allowance
no.
407,345
394,966
377,648
. .
Benefit Parenting Allowance
no.
238,386
227,988
218,189
214,721
Total
no.
645,731
622,321
595,837
214,721
Total payments in financial year ending 30 June
$’000
2,152,752
2,135,987
2,086,426
1,465,095

(a) Expenditure from 1998-99 onwards is reported on an accrual basis.
(b) 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.


Pensioner Education Supplement

The Pensioner Education Supplement (PES) aims to assist pensioners with the costs associated with study. It is available to both full-time students and those approved to undertake at least 25% of a full-time study load. PES is a non-taxable, non-income and assets-tested payment of $62.40 or $31.20 per fortnight (depending on study load or payment type), available to certain FaCS and Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) pensioners who undertake study. At 30 June 2001, there were 45,478 pensioners receiving PES.


Education Entry Payment

Customers who receive PES are eligible for a once a year Education Entry Payment (EdEP) of $208.00. This is an additional amount to help with the cost of study. Certain other income support recipients undertaking approved study, who are not eligible for PES, may be eligible for an EdEP. A total of 78,226 customers received an EdEP during 2000-01.

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