In Australia, the Federal Government offers a number of payments to parents and families — some are one-off payments following the birth of a child while others are ongoing payments to support families or help with the cost of child care.
It can be pretty confusing trying to get your head around the many payments available.
You then have to work out whether you are eligible for them and if so, how much you are likely to receive.
Here is our quick guide to Government family benefit payments in Australia. Hope it helps!
Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement
This payment was introduced after the Baby Bonus was scrapped in March 2014. It is paid following the birth or adoption of a child.
To be eligible for newborn payments you must:
- have a baby or adopt a child on or after March 1, 2014
- be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A
- not be receiving Parental Leave Pay for the same child
The Newborn Upfront Payment is a lump sum of $550 (amount correct as of February 2019). It is not taxable and it is paid for each child that comes into your care.
The Newborn Supplement depends on your income and how many children you have. The maximum amount is $1649.83 for your first child and $550.55 for subsequent children (amount correct as of February 2019).
How you receive your Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement depends on how you choose to receive Family Tax Benefit Part A — eg. fortnightly or as a lump sum at the end of the financial year.
Parental Leave Pay
Eligible parents can receive up to 18 weeks of pay at the minimum wage — to help them take time off work following the birth or adoption of a baby.
To be eligible for Parental Leave Pay you must:
- be the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child
- have worked 10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of your child, and
330 hours in that 10 month period (just more than one day a week) with no more than an 8-week gap between two consecutive working days
- meet the Paid Parental Leave income test
- be on leave or not working from the time you become your child’s primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period
Parental Leave Pay is currently $719.35 a week before tax for a maximum of 18 weeks (amount correct as of February 2019). It is a taxable payment – which means it may affect your existing family assistance entitlements, child support arrangements and tax obligations. Parental Leave Pay can be paid by your employer or directly from the government.
You do not need to be working full time to be eligible for Parental Leave Pay.
The scheme provides you with Parental Leave Pay but does not give you an entitlement to leave. You need to work out your maternity leave entitlements with your employer — try to give them at least 10 weeks’ notice.
Dad and Partner Pay
Dads or partners may be eligible for two weeks of government-funded pay after the birth of a new baby or the adoption of a child.
To be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay you must:
- provide care for a newborn or recently adopted child
- meet an income test
- have worked at least 10 of the 13 months before the date your Dad and Partner Pay period starts, and 330 hours in that 10 month period (just more than a day a week) with no more than an 8 week gap between two consecutive working days
- be on unpaid leave or not working while getting the payment
- make a claim within 52 weeks of the child’s birth or adoption
Dad and Partner Pay is $719.35 a week before tax (correct as of February 2019). The government pays the money into your bank account in one installment after your child is born and your claim is finalised.
There is an exception to the work test if a premature birth prevented you from meeting it.
Dad and Partner Pay does not change your leave entitlements. Check with your boss as to what leave you’re entitled to — if you’ve worked for them for at least 12 months, you should be entitled to unpaid parental leave under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Family Tax Benefit
This ongoing payment is to help with the cost of raising children. It has two parts — Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B.
To be eligible for Family Tax Benefit you must:
- have a dependent child or secondary student aged under 20 not receiving a pension, payment, or benefit such as Youth Allowance
- provide care for the child for at least 35 per cent of the time
- meet an income test
Family Tax Benefit Part A is paid for each child. The amount you get is based on your family’s income, the number of children you have and how old they are.
You may be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A if you have a dependent child who is:
- aged 0-15 years
- aged 16–19 years, paid until the end of the calendar year in which they turn 19, and undertaking full-time education or training in an approved course leading towards a Year 12 or equivalent qualification with an acceptable study load, or has been granted an exemption from education or training requirements
You should contact the Family Assistance Office to find out exactly how much your family will receive in Family Tax Benefit Part A. You will need to estimate your income — if you’re close to the cut-off amount then it might be best to wait until the end of the financial year once your actual is known. You’ll then receive a lump sum payment.
Family Tax Benefit Part B is an extra payment for single parents, non-parent carers and couples with one main income — where one parent stays at home to care for a child full-time or only earns a small income. This payment is income tested.
You may be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part B if:
- you are part of a couple and you care for a dependent child aged 12 years or younger at least 35 per cent of the time.
- you are a single parent, grandparent carer or great-grand parent carer and you care for a child at least 35 per cent of the time and that child is either: 1. younger than 16 years of age or 2. a dependent full-time secondary student up until the end of the calendar year in which they turn 18
You cannot receive Family Tax Benefit Part B while you’re receiving Parental Leave Pay.
Child Care Subsidy
The Child Care Subsidy helps parents with costs for approved child care. The subsidy is paid directly to the child care service provider.
To be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy you must:
- care for a child 13 years or younger (and not in secondary school, unless an exemption applies)
- use an approved child care service
- be responsible for paying the child care fees
- meet residency and immunisation requirements
A family’s level of subsidy is determined by three things:
- combined family income.
- an activity test.
- the type of service being accessed.
The Combined Family Income is how the government determines how much of your child care costs it will cover. The lower the family income, the higher the percentage they will cover.
To receive the Child Care Subsidy families must meet an activity test. The number of subsided hours you’re able to access will depend on the number of hours you work each fortnight. Both parents must meet the activity test – and in circumstances where one parent works less than the other, the subsidy will be based on the parent who works the least. Families earning $66,958 or less (amount correct as of February 2019) a year can access up to 24 hours of care a fortnight without having to meet the ‘activity test’.
There is a cap on the hourly rate that the government will subsidise. The cap is different depending on the type of service.
- For centre-based day care (long day care and occasional care) the cap is $11.77 an hour*
- For Family Day Care the cap is $10.90 an hour*
- For Outside School Hours care (before, after and vacation care) the cap is $10.29 an hour*
- For in-home care the cap is $32 per family*
* amounts correct as of February 2018
The Schoolkids Bonus was phased out in 2016.
Parenting Payment is an income support payment for parents or guardians to help with the cost of raising children.
To be eligible for Parenting Payment you must:
- single and care for a child under 8, or
- have a partner and care for a child under 6
- meet an income and assets test
Only one parent or guardian can receive the payment and the amount of Parenting Payment you get depends on the income and assets of both you and your partner (if you have one).
If you qualify for Parenting Payment, you may also be entitled to other payments and services, such as:
- Clean Energy Advance
- Energy Supplement
- Health Care Card
- Helping Young Parents
- Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance
- Telephone Allowance
This article is intended as a general guide to Government family benefit payments in Australia. To check your eligibility based on your own circumstances contact the Department of Human Services.
Image credit: leaf/123RF Stock Photo