There are a lot of great educational benefits to homeschooling your child or teenager – but did you know that there are extra Centrelink benefits too?
There are many reasons why families may wish to homeschool their children, but often single mums mistakenly believe they can’t afford to choose to homeschool their children.
The fact is, many single dads and mums are able to afford to homeschool their children because the government will support low income families to do so via standard Centrelink benefits.
In addition, there are some further Centrelink support options available to low income families who homeschool or distance educate.
Government support for Homeschooling parents
Low income and single parent families, grandparents or carers who are already receiving the Centrelink benefits Jobseeker (Newstart) and Parenting Payment Single – Parents Next are able to notify Centrelink of their Distance Education or homeschooling child in order to obtain some extra Centrelink benefits.
Homeschooling parents on Jobseeker receive a higher rate
Homeschooling single mums receiving the Centrelink Jobseeker (Newstart) benefit will actually receive a higher rate of payment. The higher rate equals the same amount paid for Parenting Payment Single.
This higher payment rate can make a big difference to the budget and improving the living standards of those single parent families.
The parent’s social security payment is still named Jobseeker or Parenting Payment Single, however it now has the additional Centrelink classification of Home Educator or special benefit.
Centrelink specifically state this including the current rate on their table here as:
Single principal carer with an exemption from mutual obligation requirements EITHER:
- because of caring for large family or foster child/ren, OR
- who is a home or distance educator of child/ren in their care.
The current rate stated is $880.20 as at August 2022.
Use this information in your call or visit to Centrelink- many Centrelink staff members are unaware it exists.
Homeschooling parents receive Centrelink Mutual Obligation Exemptions
Home education is also a valid exemption from Mutual Obligation Requirements.
Registered homeschooling parents are granted an exemption of Centrelink job seeking activities such as fulfilling their Mutual Obligations (work for the Dole) or other compulsory Centrelink work training programs such as Parents Next in order that they can be at home to supervise their homeschooling children.
Despite this waiver of Mutual Obligation Requirements, parents are still required to report any income fortnightly as per usual – even if zero dollars income applies.
Reporting in the case of Home Educators is basically a tick-box exercise done online via the Centrelink App or MyGov website in order to trigger payment.
You will be required to do an Exemption Renewal each year. This has been an in-person 5 minute visit to the Centrelink offices in the past, however it is now changing over to an online renewal system through MyGov. You will receive a message prompt from Centrelink to do this.
Jobseeker benefits are suspended if you travel overseas
Just an extra note that even if you are on the Homeschool Centrelink benefit, it is still regarded as Jobseeker. Therefore unlike Parenting Payment single, your Jobseeker payments will stop from the date you leave Australia on holiday or for a trip. It will automatically reactivate upon your return.
You should notify Centrelink of your overseas travel in advance by logging in to your MyGov account and clicking on Centrelink to report your travel plan dates – this doesn’t work on the Centrelink app.
There is a maximum period you can be away for before permanently loosing your payments. See the Centrelink website for the current policy.
Proof of Homeschooling
Centrelink require proof of Homeschooling or Distance Educating to qualify to receive the exemption from Mutual Obligation Requirements, and also to access the higher benefit rate in the case of Jobseeker recipients. This is satisfied by uploading a digital copy of the child’s Homeschooling Certificate via the Centrelink app or MyGov account.
It’s important to note that parents will need to have received the actual Homeschooling Certificate in order to apply for the status of Home Educator, and once commenced it will only apply to the period of time the child’s Homeschooling Certificate covers.
Once the initial homeschooling or distance education application has commenced and the certificate has been uploaded, parents should follow up and call Centrelink to notify them that it has been uploaded and request the Homeschooling Exemption be applied. Centrelink will then assess everything to grant the exemption, if applicable.
Often Centrelink staff aren’t even aware that the Home Educator exemption reason exists, so parents may need to persevere with explaining that they are now home schooling and wish to have Home Educator and any applicable exemptions and rate changes reflected in their Centrelink payments.
As part of the ongoing Home Educator process, parents will be required to attend an annual review appointment in person at their local Human Services or Centrelink office. This is a procedural Centrelink appointment for the purpose of confirming that they are intending to continue to homeschool their child, and to ensure that all paperwork is current, and in order.
Centrelink Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme (AIC)
The Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme (AIC) is an extra government payment of around $4000 per year for home education. It is not taxable, and does not impact child support, Centrelink income reporting or the Family Tax Benefit Part A or Part B.
In order to qualify for the AIC – Distance Education Allowance – homeschooling children will need to meet certain criteria.
Basic AIC criteria includes for a child to be of primary to high school age and to meet one of the following criteria:
- be geographically isolated
- have a disability or special education need
- have no reasonable access to a government school
Falling under the category “special education need”, it is possible for homeschooling children undertaking distance education or home schooling approved by a state or territory education authority (or TAFE institution) to qualify for the AIC payment.
Special education qualifying reasons can include children suffering from physical or mental heath problems such as anxiety or excess fear of school due to bulling, etc. where it would seriously disadvantage their education to attend the local government school.
As part of the application process to substantiate such claims in order to access the AIC scheme, parents will be asked to provide written proof from the child’s GP or medical specialist.
To find out more or apply for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme, go to the official government website here. or phone them on 132 318.
How do I register my child for Homeschooling?
Homeschooling registration requirements can vary greatly between Australian states. Go to your state government education authority website to find out the procedure for your state.
To learn how parents can apply and homeschool or distance educate their kids in Australia, read the step-by-step Australian beginner’s homeschooling guide here.