Rural and Remote
Education Inquiry Briefing Paper
Youth Allowance replaces
a number of payments, including Youth Training Allowance, Newstart and
Sickness Allowance for people under 21, AUSTUDY for people under 25 and
Family Allowance for some secondary students. This means that young people
who are studying, training or looking for work will receive the same amount
of income support.
Youth Allowance is
for young people who are:
- studying full-time
and aged 16-24
- aged 18-20 and
looking for work full-time, combining part-time study and looking for
work, doing other approved activities (including voluntary work), or
who are ill
- studying full-time
and were getting Youth Allowance before turning 25 and are still doing
the same course
- 15 years old and
have reached school leaving age and are considered to be independent
- ie: a homeless young person.
Youth Allowance is
subject to a personal income and assets test as well as a parental means
test. Youth Allowance rates depend on whether the recipient is single,
has children, lives at home or needs to live away from home.
and remote students
The following information
will highlight those aspects of Youth Allowance that are particularly
relevant to students in rural and remote Australia.
parental means test
The parental means
test looks at the parents income, assets and actual means to measure whether
the parents are capable of financially supporting the student. The Parental
Means Test does not apply if the parents are entitled to some form of
government income support or if the student qualifies as independent.
A student is considered
independent if he/she:
- has/had a dependent
- is/has been married
- is/has lived in
a de facto relationship for at least one year
- has worked full-time
for at least 30 hours per week for at least 18 months since leaving
- has worked part-time
for at least 15 hours per week for at least two years since leaving
- earned at least
$13,767 over 18 months since leaving school
- is a refugee,
ward of the state, orphan or homeless
- is 25 or more
and a full-time student
- has parents who
cannot exercise their responsibilities or it is unreasonable to live
Personal Income and Assets Test
The Personal Income
and Assets Test applies whether the student is independent or not. It
is based on how much the student earns a fortnight. A full-time student
can earn $230 gross a fortnight without affecting Youth Allowance. If
the student earns between $230 and $310 per fortnight each $1 over $230
will reduce Youth Allowance by 50c in the dollar. Income above $310 per
fortnight reducesYouth Allowance by 70c in the dollar.
For the actual Youth
Allowance rates refer to: www.youthallowance.centrelink.gov.au/howmuch.htm.
Extra benefits are
paid to people who have to pay private rent or who live in remote areas.
Away from home
rate - If the student is dependent on the parents but has to live
away from home while he/she is studying, the student may qualify for the
Away from Home Rate of Youth Allowance. The Away from Home Rate can be
up to $120 higher per fortnight than the Living at Home Rate.
- Rent Assistance may be available if the student has to live away from
home to study. How much the student can get depends on whether he/she
is single, has children and the sort of accommodation the student is in,
ie: sharing a house, renting alone, or paying board or lodging. The Rent
Assistance is between $6 and $75 per fortnight.
Remote Area Allowance
- An additional allowance is available if the student lives in a remote
area. Information about the 'special" zones is available from Centrelink.
To find out more
about Youth Allowance visit Centrelink's
The WA Youth Affairs
Conference held at Fairbridge Farm in May 1999 adopted the following
recommendations about the common Youth Allowance.
- This conference
supports changes to the Youth Allowance to allow for geographical costs
such as high rentals and transport costs in isolated areas.
- Level of parental
support to young people who receive a means tested Youth Allowance payment
to be set at the same level as a young person would receive if they
were receiving the payment directly.
- Common Youth Allowance
rates to be based on need, rather than age.
- Youth Allowance
rates to be the same as equivalent adult rates.
- Establish a Youth
Allowance special needs category for marginalised young people in collaboration
with relevant community agencies.
- Higher income
threshold for young people on Youth Allowance to increase incentives
- Recommend initiatives
such as youth service units to be expanded to all Centrelink offices.
The inquiry has received
a number of submissions which refer to Austudy. Austudy is now subsumed
within the common Youth Allowance. Barbara L Schultz from Cowell in South
a farming family in a marginal area. It has been necessary for our children
to go to boarding school (Port Lincoln) for years 11 and 12, as the local
school only offered Open Access College, remote education. Following that
we have so far supported the children in a total; of 14 years of tertiary
education. We are ineligible for Austudy assistance due to the farm assets.
However we can see that the answer is not necessarily removal of the assets
"We do not want
handouts. Justice and equality in access to education will only be reached
when all students who must live away from home for the purpose of education
are given the difference in cost, between living at home - and away.
"If city students
do not receive financial assistance from Austudy, they may live at home
and attend a tertiary institution "around the corner". If the rural
family cannot pass the Assets or Income test, the student receives nothing,
and the family must then pay to board the student in the city to access
education. You cannot get just the "away" portion of the Austudy Allowance."
Dale Price from Glencoe,
also in South Australia, submitted:
taxpayers are particularly disadvantaged in terms of tertiary support
programs. On the surface they earn too much to qualify for support but
in reality earn insufficient income to support family members to attend
tertiary institutions. All rural families face extra costs e.g. accommodation
etc. not faced by metropolitan families. A rural support payment should
be available to all families who have family members attending tertiary
institutions. This will redress the rural metropolitan inequity and those
with the ability to write down income."
in Boulia Qld, 4 October 1999:
of assets does not take into account the high costs associated with living
in a remote area. For people on remote properties, this includes the huge
interest payments they have to make."
Public meeting in
Bairnsdale Vic, 11 November 1999:
just put us right on the limit (for Youth Allowance) so that we are unable
to get any assistance for our daughter's tertiary education in Melbourne.
Several years ago - when it was still Austudy - and we were a declared
drought area, Centrelink was initially unaware of their own regulation
that in drought conditions certain parts of the assets test would be overlooked.
That enabled us to get Austudy for a short period of time. With the change
to Youth Allowance we've found that that allowance for drought-affected
areas has been deleted. Both of us have to find off-farm work now to support
our daughter at Uni."
What is your experience
with the common Youth Allowance scheme?
- If you have ever
applied for Youth Allowance, please tell us about your experience.
- Were you successful?
- If not, what was
- Do you think parental
means test rules are appropriate and fair?
- Do you think the
rates of allowance are adequate?
- What are the actual
costs of supporting an isolated student in education?
Please e-mail email@example.com
Or post your comments
Rural and Remote
GPO Box 5218
SYDNEY NSW 1042
updated 2 December 2001.