From 20 September 2023, the eligibility for Parenting Payment Single is being extended to when the youngest child turns 14. This eligibility increase followed a prolonged campaign from community groups, including SSRV, concerned that being moved onto a lower payment was contributing to families experiencing poverty. Single mother advocacy groups also argued that single mothers are not unemployed, they are performing unpaid work.
For many single parents receiving Centrelink payments, a child’s impending eighth birthday has been a cause of anxiety, with the knowledge that they would be moved off Parenting Payment Single (PPS) and onto JobSeeker Payment, at a rate of $204 less per fortnight. Many of our clients have reported that this drop in income has caused them financial stress and made it challenging to balance work and family responsibilities.
It’s anticipated that the changes to PPS eligibility will benefit around 57,000 people, 52,000 of whom are women. The change to PPS will increase the maximum basic rate of payment for eligible parents, from $745.20 per fortnight on JobSeeker Payment to $922.10 per fortnight on PPS.
In the lead up to the Federal Election, SSRV also supported a campaign by the Council of Single Mothers and their Children to end the ParentsNext program. The scheme, introduced in 2018, required parenting payment recipients to attend job agencies and participate in prescribed activities in order to keep their welfare payments. The program was continually criticised by community and welfare organisations and also faced criticism from the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Women’s Equality Taskforce, and the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.
From 5 May 2023, compulsory participation in ParentsNext has been paused and the Government has announced intention to abolish the program altogether from 1 July 2024. Parents can volunteer to participate in ParentsNext up until 1 July 2024, but it is not compulsory in order to receive PPS.
Transitioning from JobSeeker to Parenting Payment Single
So how will the transition to the new PPS eligibility requirements work?
The Department of Services Australia has provided guidance on the transition from JobSeeker Payment to PPS, which will take effect on 20 September 2023:
- Individuals who become eligible for PPS and are currently receiving JobSeeker Payment should be automatically transferred by Centrelink to PPS from 20 September 2023. No action is required for these individuals, and they should not have to lodge a new application. This includes those who had been previously transferred from PPS to Jobseeker Payment due to the age of their youngest child surpassing eight years old.
- Impacted individuals can expect to receive a letter in mid-August 2023 outlining this process. There is also planned online communications and social media messaging.
- Individuals receiving PPS whose youngest qualifying child turns 8 between now and 19 September 2023 will need to transfer to JobSeeker Payment until 20 September 2023. These individuals should receive an online task 28 days before their child turn 8 to facilitate the transfer process. They should then be automatically transferred to PPS from 20 September 2023.
- If an individual’s JobSeeker Payment is suspended come 20 September 2023 (for example, for failing to meet mutual obligations) they will not automatically be transferred to PPS on 20 September 2023. The reason for the suspension will need to be addressed first. If the individual is not entitled to JobSeeker Payment at 20 September 2023, they will need to lodge a new claim for PPS.
You find more information here:
If you, or your client, is transferring from Jobseeker Payment to PPS in September 2023, we recommend keeping a close eye on your Centrelink payments and MyGov account to ensure the transfer does occur automatically, or to pick up any issues that do arise.
Centrelink payments, eligibility and the use of technology can be complicated. It is likely that some individuals will expect the transfer to occur automatically for them, but in practice there may be an issue which they need to identify and resolve.
If your Jobseeker Payment is suspended or cancelled leading up to or on 20 September 2023, we recommend taking an active role in ensuring your transfer to PPS takes place. It is likely that you will experience issues with an automatic transfer. We recommend you speak with a Centrelink officer and ensure you know what is happening in your Centrelink account. This will assist you to identify and address any issues and minimise the risk of missing out on payments.
SSRV can assist if you, or your client, experiences issues with the PPS transfer that you are unable to resolve quickly with Centrelink. SSRV is an independent community legal centre, as such we don’t have access to Centrelink systems. We can, however, talk you through the processes available to resolve your dispute with Centrelink, and give you advice on your rights of review.