Pic source: uow.edu.au
“For decades farming families have experienced unfairness in having their farm counted as an asset in their assessment for Youth Allowance. The Family Assets Test and the Family Actual Means Test, from January 1 2016, will be removed from the Youth Allowance Personal Test. This will give rural and regional families better opportunities to support their children from school to further study,” Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, said.
“This is great news for rural and regional Australians who are faced with higher costs when their children are studying or training because they have to move away from home. These changes are particularly timely given many young people are sitting exams and deciding preferences over coming weeks.”
Following its passage through the Senate, the changes under the Social Services Legislation Amendment (more Generous Means Testing for Youth Payments) Bill 2015 will apply to certain families with dependent children receiving youth payments.
“It is envisioned that this will be a positive outcome for 1200 families in assisting them to overcome the financial barriers in attending university,” Senator McKenzie said.
“This will also allow families with dependent children in Victoria to qualify for Youth Allowance for the first time and access average annual payments of more than $7,000 a year. Families with dependent children will receive Youth Allowance for the first time and existing students will see an increase in Victoria by up to $2,000 a year.
“This decision is consistent with an examination of issues by an interdepartmental committee (IDC) on access to higher education for regional and remote students. Two of the IDC’s key preliminary findings highlight the significant financial barriers rural and regional students face in accessing higher education. The passage of the bill through the Senate is a first step in addressing the issue identified.”
From July 1 2016, the government will also be changing Youth Allowance parental income testing arrangements to include all Family Tax Benefit children in the family pool. The current test only includes dependent children over 16.
This will result in:
• Some working families in Victoria with dependent children in both the Family Tax Benefit and Youth Allowance payment systems to be eligible for an average increase in payment of $43 per fortnight ($1,118 per annum).
• Some Victorian families who currently miss out on Youth Allowance payments due to higher taper rates will be eligible for an average payment of around $50 per fortnight ($1,300 per annum).
“Simplifying the parental means tests will provide additional assistance for working families in regional Victoria to support their children making the transition from school to further study,” Senator McKenzie said.
“These changes will boost the number of families we assist, the level of that assistance, encouraging more young people into study to build their careers, develop economic opportunities and to contribute to our economy.”