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Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

Rural and Remote

Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

Youth Allowance


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

    at home.


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:



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

- 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



and evidence received

The WA Youth Affairs

Conference held at Fairbridge Farm in May 1999 adopted the following

recommendations about the common Youth Allowance.

  1. This conference

    supports changes to the Youth Allowance to allow for geographical costs

    such as high rentals and transport costs in isolated areas.

  2. 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.

  3. Common Youth Allowance

    rates to be based on need, rather than age.

  4. Youth Allowance

    rates to be the same as equivalent adult rates.

  5. Establish a Youth

    Allowance special needs category for marginalised young people in collaboration

    with relevant community agencies.

  6. Higher income

    threshold for young people on Youth Allowance to increase incentives

    to work.

  7. 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

Australia wrote:

"We are

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:

"Rural PAYE

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."

Community meeting

in Boulia Qld, 4 October 1999:

"Means testing

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:

"Our assets

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?

  1. If you have ever

    applied for Youth Allowance, please tell us about your experience.

  2. Were you successful?
  3. If not, what was

    the reason?

  4. Do you think parental

    means test rules are appropriate and fair?

  5. Do you think the

    rates of allowance are adequate?

  6. What are the actual

    costs of supporting an isolated student in education?

Please e-mail

Or post your comments


Rural and Remote

Education Inquiry

GPO Box 5218



updated 2 December 2001.