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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 ccurently have a 9 month old baby boy, but I’m also pregnant and due to give birth any time between the 13th of January and the 13th of February, I have applied for my family tax benefit payments but when I tried to apply for parenting maybe for new bub it says I cant apply for it because I’m already being payed, I thought I had to make claims for both family tax benefit and parenting payment, so do I only do the claim for 1 and not the other and if I cant make a claim for parenting payment what happens with my parenting payment for my new bub when he is born ?

    • Hi Samantha! Congrats on your pregnancy. How wonderful to have two kids so close. They will be great friends I’m sure.

      I’m a bit confused by your question though. So are you already receiving Family Tax Benefits? And you want to apply for parenting payment? I would have thought you would be able to (provided you are eligible for parenting payment) but I have had no personal experience with this payment and I’m not sure of exactly how it works.

      Just rereading your question though – are you already receiving a parenting payment for your first child? Perhaps you cannot apply again because you don’t really apply per child. If you’re already getting it now then perhaps when your 2nd child is born you can inform them and the rate may change (although I’m not sure of this). But I don’t think this is a payment that you apply for again when another child is born.

      If you’re receiving Family Tax A you will probably be eligible for the Newborn Supplement and Upfront payment which is a bit extra in your FTA to help pay for costs involved in a new child.

      You might be best having a chat with some of the parents in our forum. They might be better able to answer your questions regarding Parenting Payment. Here’s a link to the family finances section: http://www.bubhub.com.au/community/forums/forumdisplay.php?157-Family-Finances

      All the best xx

  2. Hi,

    I am an Australian Citizen and expecting my first baby in March 2017. I am working full time for 3 years & my wife is a housewife. I am not sure whether I can get parental leave pay if I take unpaid leave for 4 weeks by centrelink.

    I fulfill the criteria for the work test, but not sure whether I or my wife will be eligible for parental leave or not. My workplace mentioned that all parental leave is unpaid. According to them, upon the birth of your child, your leave can start from the date of birth of your child.

    If you will be taking leave to care for your wife and child, you can take this after the birth of your child, unpaid, and must be taken within 12 months following the birth of your child. You can take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave from the date of birth of your child.

    You may be eligible for paid partner/dad pay from Centrelink. This is 2 weeks of payments directly to you (not through CADDS Group) and will be paid at the nominated Centrelink rate (which is often different to your employment rate of pay).

    Please advise.

    Regards,
    MK

    • Hi Mike!

      Congrats on your upcoming arrival! Hope everything is going well for you and your wife.

      Your workplace is correct. You are entitled to take Parental Leave – this is an entitlement under Fair Work Australia. Some companies DO offer some payment to help fund this time off but sounds like yours isn’t one of them unfortunately.

      The government offers Parental Leave Pay but only for the main carer of the child. In your case this is your wife. And as she hasn’t been working then she would not be eligible to receive this payment. Parental Leave Pay can be transferred to another person but only in the case where the first primary carer was eligible and the second person was to take over as primary carer of the baby. So again, not in your situation.

      You can however apply for Dad and Partner Pay which is two weeks at the minimum wage. Currently $672.60 per week before tax. Perhaps you could take some annual leave days as well to help pay for the rest of your time off?

      Also, check your wife’s eligibility for Family Tax Benefits. Depending on the family income she could be eligible for both Family Tax A and Family Tax B. There is a newborn upfront payment (once-off amount of $532) if you are eligible and a supplement which is dependent on your income and paid over 13 weeks. The maximum amount is just less than $1600 over the 13 weeks (but it decreases according to how much you earn).

      Hope this all helps a bit. Come back if you have further questions,

      Take care xx

  3. hello, i would like to ask . i am a new mum now. we had our first baby last september 2,2016. i am not yet an australian citizen, i am still waiting for the decision of my application…
    what benefits can we have from the government where my husband who is an australian citizen is the only one who earns a living for us? thanks for replying…

    • Hi Jean,

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your new baby!

      Firstly you don’t have to be an Australian citizen to access benefits but you DO have to be an Australian resident, living in Australia. You may be eligible for Family Tax Benefits if you fall under any of the below criteria:

      – 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

      But it also depends a lot on what your husband’s income is. There are quite a few criteria so you would really need to chat to someone at Centrelink to know for sure.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

      All the best xx

  4. Hi I’m 15 and pregnant, stopped going to school till after I have my child next year in January. I’m not with my child’s father. I’m still living at home & I’ve been looking for a job but no one wants to hire me, my parents don’t earn enough money to support my child also, I was wondering what kind of payments I’d be able to get for me to support my child.

  5. Hey 🙂 im just wondering how my payments will be affected when my baby arrives later this year.
    I already have a 3 year old, and currently receive single parenting payment, and family tax benefits A and B.
    Will the parenting payment change? Or just the family tax benefit?
    Also, in the news today they said that Turnbull will cut the baby bonus, does that mean i wont receive it, or is there a cut off date?
    Thanks for your time and for helping with this info, its a bummer i feel ashamed to ask on Facebook forums.
    Xx

    • Hi Bliss! Congrats on your pregnancy.

      I am afraid I don’t know much about Parenting Payment. If you are already receiving the maximum amount (which is $738.50 – including the Pension Supplement – a fortnight) then that amount won’t increase when you have another child. What will increase however is the amount of money you’re allowed to earn per fortnight before your payment is reduced.

      Your income must be no more than $188.60, plus $24.60 for each additional child, per fortnight to get the maximum payment. Income over this amount reduces your payment by 40 cents in the dollar.

      To answer your other question about the ‘baby bonus’ – that was a payment that the Government was planning to bring in. But now they won’t be bringing it in. So really, nothing has changed. If you’re eligible for Family Tax A then you should be eligible for the Newborn Upfront Payment and Supplement.

      It is a bummer that you feel ashamed to ask on FB but I get that it isn’t very private, so I totally understand. I wouldn’t be comfortable talking about my finances on FB either.

      However, we do have a forum here and you can ask questions anonymously. It might be a good idea to ask your parenting payment question there too as there are probably many members who would know more about it than I would.

      Hope I’ve been of some help though. All the best xx

  6. Hi everyone,
    My wife and I are expecting twin boys in November this year. My wife is eligible for paid parental leave for only 1 baby and has already put that claim in with Centrelink so that it’s ready to go. Can we claim anything for our other baby? Can we claim the PPL for one and the newborn upfront payment & newborn supplement for the other? Will this be the full amount or the red end amount for a ‘second’ baby. If so how do I go about this? Any help, advice and a point in the right direction would be great. Thanks!

    • Hi Wally! How exciting! Hope things are all going well.

      The good news is that you can claim the Newborn Upfront Payment and the Newborn Supplement as well as the Parental Leave Pay when you have twins. And from what I have read it is at the full amount. Here’s what I saw on their site:
      If you have a multiple birth, including twins, you may receive the following for each child:

      Newborn Upfront Payment, as a lump sum of $532, and
      Newborn Supplement, at a maximum rate of $1,595.23 if you are eligible for the whole 13 weeks, even if you already have other children

      This also applies if you are adopting more than 1 child as part of the same adoption process, or if 2 or more children younger than 1 year of age come into your or your partner’s care as part of the same process.

      If you are also eligible for Parental Leave Pay, you may receive Parental Leave Pay for 1 child and Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement for other children.

      There are other criteria you need to meet (including an income test) and if you’re eligible for the Newborn Supplement etc you will also be eligible for Family Tax Benefit A (and perhaps B too). All worth checking out.

      I’m not exactly sure of the process at the moment. When your babies are born you’ll complete your application for the Parental Leave Pay and add your babies to Medicare etc. You may also be assessed for Family Tax Benefits then. But you might have to ask them to make sure.

      Also if you take unpaid leave yourself after your boys are born you may also be eligible for two weeks of Dad and Partner Pay to help fund this time off.

      Hope this helps! All the best xx

  7. The paid parental scheme was a huge help with my first child. I stayed home from work for four months and went back part time at first, working my way back up to full time and got an amazing promotion. I’m about to give birth to my second and found out I’ve just edged over the personal income cap. My husband hardly makes a thing and we have enormous bills. I can’t believe I’m being punished for being successful. If the income cap were family based, it would be so much more fair. As far as I can see, I get absolutely nothing to stay home with my baby while my family spirals into debt, but my husband can stay home no problems. How can this be right? Is there something I’m missing?

    • Hi there! Sorry to hear about your situation. I am afraid that you may not have missed something. The Parental Leave Pay is based on your individual income and it needs to be less than $150,000 in the previous financial year. It is also ‘adjusted taxable income’ (there’s more info on what that is here: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/adjusted-taxable-income).
      You might want to investigate eligibility for the other payments – if you’re not working you might be eligible for Family Tax Benefits. You husband could be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay or even the Parental Leave Pay if you decide you need to return to work.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Take care and all the best with your pregnancy.

  8. Hello, i am 20 weeks pregnant at the momwnt and i am alone living by my self,my moother is suppose to come on the 3rd week of nov.which is near my due date on dec.i just wanted to know since im just getting benefit with centerlink coz, i am not able to qork due to my high risk pregnancy, and i just find out that my mother might not able to come on nov.for a certain reason and if ever i will get a stayout nanny just for couple of hours to help me 2 to 3 times a week will centerlink help me to pay the amount coz as of now its not really enough for what i am getting, and i dont even know where will i look for a nanny that i can trust with and my baby i am 31 and this is my first child.pls help thanks

    • Hi Grace, Sorry I took so long to reply to your message. Sounds like you are really stressing about how you will cope once your baby is born. I hope that you’re talking to your health care provider about your concerns as they may be able to offer suggestions as to where you might be able to access support. Usually midwives do home visits after a baby is born and there are also child health clinics in most areas where you can go for advice, information and support.

      But in answer to your question if you are receiving government benefits now then you will most likely be eligible for Family Tax A and B when your baby arrives as well as the Newborn Supplement – which is a little extra to help pay for the initial costs of having a baby. If you choose you could use this money to pay for a few hours of help.

      Have a look through our directory to find services that can help you before and after your baby is born (including nannies and home help). Here’s the link: http://www.bubhub.com.au/servicesdirectory.php

      All the best xx

  9. Hi, I am a permanent resident and am claiming Family Tax A and B. I know there is a waiting period of 2 years being a permanent resident to claim Parenting Payment, but if I get my citizenship before then will I be able to claim it before the 2 years is up? TIA

    • Hi BennettBoy. Thanks for your question. It is really one that only Centrelink can answer. However by looking at their site I am thinking that you’d still have to wait the 104 weeks. It says that to meet the resident requirement you need to be a resident (whether citizen, permanent resident or SCV holder) for that period of time. My understanding of that is that whatever ‘type’ of resident you are doesn’t change things – you still need to be a resident for that long.
      Please double check with Centrelink of course though. We aren’t familiar with all the circumstances and specifics. All the best xx

  10. Hi we recently got our permanent residency in dec 2015. we have a school going son and a 2 year old daughter. when are we going to be eligible for parenting payments?

    • Hi Remi! I’m just having a look for info on this and I’ve seen the following:

      To be eligible for Parenting Payment you must satisfy residence requirements. You must be an Australian resident and you must:

      have been an Australian resident for a period, or periods, that total 104 weeks, or
      be exempt from this requirement, for example, if you are a refugee or have become a lone parent during your most recent period of Australian residence

      That’s two years, unless you are exempt.

      But that is for the Parenting Payment. I couldn’t see any information regarding a waiting time for Family Tax Benefits. If you don’t already claim these perhaps it is worth investigating.

      To be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B, you must satisfy residence requirements. You must be living in Australia and either:

      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

      Your child must also meet the residence requirements or be living with you and you must continue to meet the residence requirements for as long as you get this payment.

      Hope this helps xx

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