Expert Opinion Panel
Jason Bryce – Business & Finance Specialist
The ultimate guide to Australian single mum Centrelink benefits & more
UPDATED: 2 February 2022
Centrelink, State Government, Welfare Agencies, Charities, Banks and more…
Single mother guide to assistance
These agencies can assist you with money when you’re a single mum:
Child Support Agency
Crisis agencies / charities
What Centrelink benefits am I entitled to?
First rule of Centrelink is don’t go to Centrelink.
You have heard the stories about lines and wait times. Only go to Centrelink if something goes wrong. Very wrong. Or Centrelink asks you to attend.
Get online. Get the app, link Centrelink to your mygov account. If you really need assistance, sit down and call Centrelink and be prepared to wait.
What Centrelink benefits can single parents get?
The main pensions and benefits available for single mums are:
Family Tax Benefits
Parents who are eligible for one or more of these payments can also get rent assistance and some other supplementary payments to top up their income.
How much is Parenting Payment for Single Parents?
The base rate of Parenting Payment Single is currently $862.10, per fortnight, including the pension supplement of $24.70.
You will also get the Energy Supplement of $12.00 per fortnight.
The maximum rate of rent assistance is now $142.80 per fortnight and that is payable when you pay at least $318 per fortnight in rent. You will get a part payment of rent assistance if your rent is over $127.60 per fortnight.
Payment rates are indexed up according to inflation every March and September.
How much is Jobseeker for single parents?
Single mums whose children are all over the age of 8 are not eligible for Parenting Payment but may qualify for JobSeeker. That comes with terms and conditions – like looking for a job and attending JobActive appointments.
The base rate of JobSeeker for single parents is now $676.80per fortnight.
Homeschooling & Foster Carers exemptions
You can get the higher $862.10 per fortnight rate if you are:
How much is Family Tax Benefits for single parents?
Family Tax Benefits come in two variations – Family Tax Benefits Part A and Part B.
Family Tax Benefit Part A
Eligibility for FTB Part A is based on your household income. The amount you get depends on the number and age of your children. Millions of Aussie families qualify for FTB Part A.
FTB Part B is just for one-income households, so many single parents qualify for this additional payment as well.
The maximum rate of Family Tax benefit Part A is now $191.24 for a child 0 to 12 years and $248.78 for a child 13 to 19 years. Children aged 16 – 19 must be studying for you collect FTB Part A.
The Family Tax Part A end-of-financial-year supplement for the 2021-22 financial year, is up to $788.40 for each eligible child, up from $781.10 last financial year. This is used to balance your payments against your income from work.
Family Tax Benefit Part B
Family Tax Benefit Part B is not paid per child, it is one payment for the family, based on your income. The maximum rate of FTB Part B is:
$158.34 per fortnight when your youngest child is under 6. When your youngest turns six, the max rate of FTB Part B falls to $110.60.
The FTB Part B supplement is up to $383.25 per family for the last financial year.
How much are child-care benefits for single parents?
Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate are no longer available. They have been replaced with a payment called the Child Care Subsidy.
Child Care Subsidy is based on your income, the hours you work and an hourly rate cap on child care costs. To work out how much you might be able to get to offset the costs involved in child care, you need to use the Centrelink Payment and Service Finder.
What is ParentsNext?
ParentsNext is a controversial program for single parents with children under the age of 6. It is about training, helping you plan for the future and preparing for work when your children get to school age.
Single mums, of any age, who are selected for ParentsNext,need to report fortnightly or risk losing their Parenting Payment or Newstart benefits. You may have to attend interviews, meetings, complete programs and training to receive your benefits on time.
Read our parents next hack sheet for tips.
What are the ParentsNext eligibility rules?
Centrelink may refer you to take part in ParentsNext if:
Plus one of the following must also apply:
If you have to take part, Centrelink will send you a letter and make an appointment for you with a provider.
Child Support Agency
The Child Support Agency exists to support single mothers (mostly) by mediating payments between ex-partners. Don’t be scared of it.
If you are not getting money from the other parent of your kids, get online or call CSA. You can also link CSA to your mygov account.
You can ask CSA to collect child support for you. CSA will then ask you for the details of where your ex works. CSA can contact their employer and take child support from their pay.
You can also register with CSA then choose private collection. That means you are telling CSA that your ex is paying you directly. If you partner fails to do so, you can easily report that to CSA.
Centrelink Crisis Payment
If you are eligible for one of Centrelink’s payments, you may also be eligible for a special crisis payment in the event of a major life upheaval. The crisis payment will be equal to one week’s pay of Newstart or Parenting Payment.
Crisis agencies and charities
Charities like the Salvation Army, Anglicare, Mission Australia and Foodbank can help single mums in need. Reach out to these services near you and don’t suffer in silence at home alone. Check out these resources, charities and assistance programs for mums (and others) in crisis.
Women’s Legal Services
You may be able to access free legal assistance. Commonwealth and state governments fund women’s legal services, family violence legal services and legal aid. You can find legal services near you here.
Banks domestic violence & single mum support
Before 2016, banks regularly effectively helped abusive husbands continue the abuse of mothers by withholding money, making closing joint accounts very difficult and being completely inflexible about joint debts.
Now things have changed and all banks are required to help you.
“Domestic violence is a serious community issue and banks have a role to assist customers who may be impacted financially,” said Diane Tate from the Australian Bankers Association in 2016.
“Customers affected by domestic violence can experience abuse of their finances,” said Diane, “It’s important that banks do everything possible to minimise the burden on these customers.
“To help with this, the ABA has developed new guidelines. For example, taking care to keep the customer’s contact details private from a joint-account holder, providing copies of documents free of charge, and referring customers to organisations that offer specialist domestic violence support.”
Escaping Domestic Violence
“Banks don’t need legal evidence of domestic violence, such as an Apprehended Violence Order, to be able to offer assistance to customers,” said Diane Tate.
So yes! Your bank can help you, when your relationship breaks down and later to help get you finances sorted and separated from your ex’s money and accounts.
And while the banks don’t advertise the fact heavily, at least some are handing out cold hard cash to mums escaping troubled home environments.
Commonwealth Bank domestic violence crisis payments
Commonwealth Bank won’t confirm officially but some single mothers are reporting they received $600 in crisis payments when they left their husband. Commonwealth Bank customers can check out the assistance they might be able to receive and have a look at Commbank’s checklist for divorce.
Westpac Bank domestic violence emergency cash
Westpac have put a lot of effort into compiling information and resources for separating parents, especially mums. Westpac can also provide emergency cash for victims of family violence escaping the home.
ANZ Bank separating parents advice
NAB single mum assistance
NAB is also ready to assist separating mums.
The information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Jason is an expert business, finance and consumer issues journalist specialising in personal finance, debt, consumer issues and banking, Jason is now based in Melbourne and works as a journalist . Previously Jason has worked for ABC TV, News Ltd and plenty of magazines and online publishers. You can keep up to date with the latest Centrelink news and information at Jason’s Facebook page, Centrelink News or his website www.jasonbryce.com.au.
Jason is a proud single dad of three children. Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonBryce.