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Guide to government family benefit payments

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COVID-19: Families who receive Parenting Payment will be eligible for the temporary fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement. After September 25 this amount will reduce to $250 a fortnight. For more information visit our Coronavirus Information Hub.

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 $570 (amount correct as of August 2020). 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 $1709.89 for your first child and $570.57 for subsequent children (amount correct as of August 2020).

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 a 12-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.
  • meet residency rules and be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and generally have served a two-year waiting period if you’re a newly arrived migrant.

Parental Leave Pay is currently $753.90 a week before tax for a maximum of 18 weeks (amount correct as of August 2020). 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.

READ: More information about Parental Leave Pay and the eligibility criteria

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 a 12-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 $753.90 a week before tax (correct as of August 2020). 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 parental leave (unpaid) 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 $69,390 or less (amount correct as of August 2020) 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 $12.20 an hour*
  • For Family Day Care the cap is $11.30 an hour*
  • For Outside School Hours care (before, after and vacation care) the cap is $10.67 an hour*
  • For in-home care the cap is $33.17 per family*

* amounts correct as of August 2020

Schoolkids Bonus

The Schoolkids Bonus was phased out in 2016.

Parenting Payment

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

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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

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372 comments so far -

  1. Hello,
    i am expecting my baby on 24 sept 2020. wondering if i can claim newborn parental leave payment from centrelink. as i have worked full time with my co. from last 3 years. but cant meet work test requirements in terms of days, but can fulfil hourly requirements by centrelink. as i was stuck overseas for more then 5 months in last 9 months of pregnancy due to border closure. and no commercial flights available to fly back in australia. as i was pregnant was scared to travel with this deadly disease.
    so wondering if there is exemption on this situation, so i can get parental leave from centrelink?

    • Hi Pooja!

      Congrats on your pregnancy and thanks for your question.

      If you have worked for three years you do not need to meet any ‘day’ requirements. You just need to have worked for 10 out of the 13 months prior to you baby’s due date and 330 hours within those 10 months.

      However you’re not able to have a break of more than 12 weeks between two working days so if you’ve missed that much work you’d usually not meet the work test. I haven’t heard of their being an exception for this type of situation but I’d certainly check this with Centrelink if I was you, just to be sure.

      If you were working overseas during that five months you might still meet the work test. I would check this with Centrelink also.

      All the best!

  2. Hi! I have a 2 year old and am currently pregnant with my 2nd. I didn’t claim the newborn payment or supplement with my 1st so what I’m wondering is will I get the maximum amount for my 2nd baby as it is my first claim or will it still be the lesser amount as I already have a child, regardless that I didn’t claim for her?
    Thanks

    • Hi Zoey!

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy.

      I’m afraid that my understanding is that you’ll receive the amount for subsequent children regardless of whether you claimed for your first child or not. I think they’re basing it on the idea that firstborns require more initial outlay for baby items etc.

      If you’re eligible for Family Tax A and therefore the newborn supplement and upfront payment you should receive:
      The Newborn Upfront Payment: a lump sum of $570 (correct as of July 2020).

    • The Newborn Supplement amount depends on your income and how many children you have. The maximum amount is $1709.89 or your first child or a maximum of $570.57 for subsequent children (amounts correct as of July 2020).

      Hope this helps! All the best!

  3. Hello,

    We are expecting our first baby in January 2021.My partner has been a student and has just recently finished her degree and will be hoping to pick up some relief teaching casual positions in the next few months.
    I’m wondering if my partner will be eligible for for parental leave pay but im struggling to understand the system.

    if she isn’t eligible for parental leave could you help and advise us of what we might be eligible for as a family

    thanks for reading

    • Hi John! Congratulations! A very exciting time ahead.

      To answer your question, if your partner has been studying full-time and not been working at all, she will not be eligible for the government’s Parental Leave Pay. If she has been working part time she might be eligible if she meets the criteria. There’s more information on that criteria in this article: https://www.bubhub.com.au/hubbub-blog/paid-parental-leave-pay-australia/

      If she hasn’t been working at all then a few months of relief teaching will not be enough to meet the criteria. As it has to be at least 10 months of work within the 13 months prior to the baby’s due date.

      You should also look at Family Tax Benefits – its based on your combined income.
      If you don’t receive Parental Leave Pay you’ll get a little bit extra when the baby is born through Family Tax Benefits – it’s called the Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement.

      If you’re very low-income earners your wife may be eligible for Parenting Payment.

      If your employer doesn’t offer you paid leave you might be eligible for two weeks of Dad & Partner pay.

      Hope this helps. It is still wise to chat to centrelink, but at least this will give you a little idea on what you might ask about.

      All the best!

  4. Hey, im a soon to be dad, my partner is Canadian and pregnant and is on temporary visa at the moment, we are in the process of applying for a partner visa, my question is if i am an Australian citizen if i will be eligible for any government help/benefits when the baby arrives, I believe she wont be entitled to anything as she wont be approved for her partner visa anytime soon. any help is appreciated thanks.

    • Hi Edward.

      Thanks for your question and congratulations!! Exciting times ahead.

      If I were you I would look into your eligibility for Dad and Partner Pay. This is two weeks of pay at the minimum wage for dads and partners, so they can take some time off after the baby is born (this is time off that their employer would not be able to provide paid leave for).

      You would not be eligible for Parental Leave Pay, as your partner would have to be eligible in order to transfer it over to you.

      And I am not sure if your family would be eligible for Family Tax Benefits either as it would be paid to your wife. But I would check this out if I were you just in case. I am not completely sure about this one.

      I hope that helps! If you have further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

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