What Family Assistance is available for me?
Having a family is expensive. Fortunately, the Australian Federal Government realises this and has introduced a range of assistance programs to help each family to bear the costs of raising children. From tax benefits and childcare subsidies, to regular payments to help with family budgeting, the measures are in place to help you out. All you need to do is to work out which assistance programs you’re eligible for, and how to access the help you need.
We’ve put together a little overview of family assistance programs, with a short explanation of each. For more details, visit www.humanservices.gov.au.
The Baby Bonus
Paid to families following the birth (including stillbirth) or adoption of a child. You’ll find more details about the Baby Bonus here.
Paid Parental Leave
Designed to provide working mothers – and the initial primary carers of adopted children – with access to up to 18 weeks leave, paid at the national minimum wage (currently $589.40 a week – June 2012). You’ll find more details about Paid Parental Leave here.
Family Tax Benefit
There are two parts to the Family Tax Benefit payment, which is a payment to help with the costs of raising dependent children.
- Part A: this is the primary payment paid to a parent/guardian to help offset the costs of raising dependent children. To receive the payment you must have dependent children and meet the residency requirements. The amount of Family Tax Benefit Part A that you receive depends on your family income and the number and age of your dependents. Payments can be made in fortnightly instalments, or as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year.
If you are eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A, you may also be eligible for other benefits such as the Large Family Supplement, Multiple Birth Allowance, Rent Assistance and a Health Care Card. (See below.)
- Part B: this is extra assistance for sole parent families and other families with one main income. To be eligible, you must have dependent children, meet the residency requirements and be either a two-parent family with one main income (eg, one parent stays at home to care for children) or be a single parent family (note that if you share the care of your child or children with your former partner, there are special rules regarding Family Tax Benefit Part B).
The amount of Family Tax Benefit Part B that you are paid will depend on your family’s income and the age of your youngest dependent. You may also be eligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part B supplement, which is paid at the end of the financial year.
Other family payments
- Large Family Supplement is an extra payment to families with three or more children. It is paid on top of Family Tax Benefit Part A.
- Multiple Birth Allowance is an extra payment to help those who have multiple births (3 or more babies). It is paid on top of Family Tax Benefit Part A.
- Rent Assistance is offered to those who receive more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A and pay a minimum amount of rent to private landlords.
- Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for a Health Care Card. For example, those who are entitled to receive the maximum Family Tax Benefit Part A payment in fortnightly instalments. Check the Family Assistance website to see if you are eligible for these and other benefits.
Australian childcare subsidies
As discussed in our cost of childcare article (link to cost of childcare article), childcare fees are not regulated and can be very expensive, depending on the area in which you live. The Federal Government offers subsidies to help offset these costs for parents. Some of the subsidies available include:
Child Care Benefit (CCB)
- Paid as a lump sum at the end of the financial year, or to the registered or approved childcare provider as reduced fees through the year.
- Payments are based on your family’s annual income. CCB rates reduce on a sliding scale, depending on income and the number of children in care – families who are eligible for CCB but who receive zero payment due to high come may still receive CCR (see below).
Child Care Rebate (CCR)
- You can claim 50 per cent of your out-of-pocket expenses (total childcare fees minus any CCB subsidy) for approved childcare, up to a maximum of $7500 per year.
- CCR is not currently means tested.
Visit Centrelink’s Rate Estimator to get an idea of any entitlements you may have, but use these as a guide only. Make an appointment to visit your local Centrelink or Department of Human Services centre for a true picture of the family assistance benefits available for your family.