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Guide to government family benefit payments

Young Australian family sitting outside their home

NOTE: Australia has a new child care package. In 2018, the Child Care Subsidy replaced the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. Read our article on the Australian Government’s New Child Care Package and how it affects you.

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.

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 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

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

——————————————————————

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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340 comments so far -

  1. Hello,
    I am a full time uni student and married, my husband is the only worker, apparently his low wages have to be enough to cover us ! i was rejected at centrelink for any payment, i am worried once we fall pregnant we have no entitlements ? we are both 26, and he earns under $60,000 pa, is my husband entitled to parental pay, since i have no income?.. this is all so confusing to me 🙁

    • Hi! Sorry to hear this is stressing you out at the moment! Stress isn’t what you need if you’re trying to fall pregnant.

      Now, without knowing the full circumstances but based on your partner’s income I am sure you’d be entitled to Family Tax Benefits once you have children. You will have to check with Centrelink of course because they need to know more about your individual circumstances.

      If you’re eligible for Family Tax Benefit A, then you are eligible to receive a newborn supplement as well when you have a new baby.

      If you aren’t working then I’m afraid you won’t be eligible for Parental Leave Pay. And your husband would only be eligible for the Parental Leave Pay if he took leave to be the primary carer of your child. He should be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay though – if he takes time off work to spend with you and baby after the birth (this is two weeks of pay at minimum wage).

      So rest assured. There is assistance for people in your situation. Once you fall pregnant you can start to investigate this further – chat to centrelink about your particular circumstances and begin the application process.

      Hope this helps.

      Take care xx

  2. I’ve heard that the paid parental scheme ends at 30 June 2016, is this true?
    My baby is due later in the year, will there still be a paid maternity leave scheme then?

  3. Hi there.
    I have a question.
    So my brother (13yo) has just come in to my care from nz. I was wondering if there is any benefits (family tax ect) I may be able to claim for him well in my care?
    Thank you

    • Hi Mish. Thanks for your question. You may be able to claim for your brother – definitely worth your while investigating further. To claim Family Tax Benefits you don’t have to be a biological parent – you just have to be the carer of a dependent child. Of course there are other criteria – such as income tests etc. Contact centrelink so they can check your individual circumstances. All the best xx

  4. Hi All,
    I hope you can help me with my question.
    I am in the middle of the process to complete my parental leave payment Claim online.
    my partner and I are saving to buy a property. If we show on the claim our savings money. would I still be eligible for my parental leave payment and leave?
    Thank you very much!

    • Hi Rafa, Thanks for your question. I am not sure of the answer myself. It has been a while since I filled out that form. Do they ask the question of how much money you have in the bank? My understanding is that the only financial criteria is the taxable income of the person claiming parental leave. If that is the case then it shouldn’t matter if you have savings in the bank.

      If you’d like to ask this question of someone who’s filled out the form more recently – it might be best to ask on our forum. Here’s a link specifically for questions to do with Maternity leave and paid parental leave: http://www.bubhub.com.au/community/forums/forumdisplay.php?148-Maternity-Leave

      Hope you get some answers. All the best xx

  5. Hi there.
    Thank you fot your article.
    I have a question to ask. Is there any chance I could still get Parental leave pay when I don’t meet the 10 months working criteria? I was made redundant and went for recruitment agency help, but was not lucky for 3 months. Now, I found a job and after working for 2 weeks I realized I am pregnat. I am very happy about that but woud be even happier to know I’ll get some support once the magic will happen.
    Thank you very much for your answer.

    • Hi guys
      I was just wondering if i could still take paid parental leave even though i havnt worked at the same company for more than 10 months i have worked as a casual with 3 different agencies during the last 10 months and i have worked more than 330 hours but will i still be aligable to recieve the 18 week payment or not ? I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and not working right now

      • Hi!

        Congrats on your pregnancy. Fortunately for you the work test does not stipulate that you must work in the same job. Here is a rundown of the criteria:
        You do not need to be working full time to be eligible for Parental Leave Pay. You may meet the work test even if you:

        are a part time, casual, or a seasonal worker
        are a contractor or self employed
        work in a family business
        have multiple employers
        have recently changed jobs, or
        have worked overseas

        So I’d be apply if I were you. All the best xx

    • Hi Eve, Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy. I am not 100 per cent sure of the answer and of your personal circumstances so you do need to check this info with centrelink. I would say that it would be worth your while to still apply. The 10 months criteria is actually “10 out of the past 13 months” so it is possible that you’ve done 10 months in the past 13. I’m not sure how much it matters that there was a three-month gap though. As the criteria does actually say this:

      To meet the work test for Parental Leave Pay you must have worked for at least:

      10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of your child, and
      330 hours in that 10 month period, which is just over 1 day a week, and had no more than an 8 week gap between 2 consecutive working days

      So that 8-week gap might be the issue. Still worth checking of course though. All the best xx

  6. Hey there,
    I am now permanently here in Australia with my Australian partner, i am on my bridging defacto visa at the moment waiting for approval which should be very soon.
    I am 3 months pregnant, work fulltime, and i am curious what benefits i could get for maternity leave from the government, because i am working for an agency which is considered casual, so no maternity at my job unfortunately.
    i just don’t want to struggle the first few months of giving birth because of money.

    • Hi June! Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy. There are a number of criteria you’d have to meet before knowing exactly if you’d be eligible for Paid Parental Leave – like you need to have worked 10 out of the 13 months prior to the baby’s birth for example. But the good news is that you don’t have to be an Australian Citizen. The residency requirements are listed as this:

      To be eligible for Parental Leave Pay you must satisfy residence requirements. When your child is born or comes into your primary care you must be living in Australia and:

      – have Australian citizenship
      – hold a permanent visa
      – hold a special category visa, or
      – hold a certain temporary visa type for example a Partner Provisional or Temporary Protection visa – if you hold a certain temporary visa, please read about payments paid while outside Australia

      You can read more about all the criteria here: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/parental-leave-pay

      You might want to also investigate whether your partner is eligible for Dad and Partner Pay and if you can receive Family Tax A and/B.

      All the best xx

  7. Hi guys, So I have 2 kids ages 1 and 3. I just found out I should have been recieving parenting payment but I never have. I didnt realise this. I have been recieving family tax part a and b but not parenting. is there anything I can do about this to get back dated at all?

  8. Hello everyone,
    Our family income is around $70000 per year and have a 4 year old kid. And receiving benefit from centreline of about $44 a fortnight. Is this all we are eligible to receive, is there any other benefit we may be eligible for??

    • Hi ratz. Thanks for your comment. I would say that at this stage, if you’re receiving a payment then centrelink has most likely assessed you for all you’re eligible for. If you use child care you’d could check your eligibility for the Child Care payments. If you have a newborn baby you would need to be assessed again – you’d be eligible for a newborn payment or paid parental leave (depending on your work situation) as well as Dad and partner pay. You’d then be eligible for a higher amount of Family Tax Benefit as well. If you’re still wondering it can’t hurt to ask Centrelink. They also have a Payment Finder on their site you might find helpful https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/payment-finder/?p=15000000000000000000000000

      Hope this helps!

  9. Hi everyone
    I was just wondering if anyone else has been through this.
    I work 3 days a week and I’m on single parents pension which I get around $462 or something a fortnight for one child, I’m about to have my second baby start of July I was just wondering once you go on leave at work does your payments go up and stay up because I’m taking 12 months off and I’m not just talking about the 18 weeks leave
    Cheers girls

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