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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.
7.23 RECIPIENTS OF FAMILY TAX BENEFIT AND RELATED PAYMENTS(a)
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 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.
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:
To qualify for the Parenting Payment, a person must:
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.