3.1.16 Payability during the Green Army Programme

Description - Green Army Programme

The Green Army Programme (1.1.G.67) is a voluntary environmental action programme for eligible young people aged between 17-24 years old to support local environmental and heritage conservation projects across Australia. The Green Army Programme is delivered by Green Army service providers contracted by the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Teams consisting of 9 participants and one team supervisor will carry out Green Army projects lasting between 20 and 26 weeks. Participants will generally participate on a full-time basis for 30 hours per week, although participation on a part-time basis (15-29 hours per week) may be available in limited circumstances.

Participants in the Green Army Programme will generally receive a green army allowance (1.1.G.66) ranging between $608.40 per fortnight to $987.00 per fortnight, depending on a participant's age and educational level. These rates are as at 1 July 2014 and will be indexed annually by the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Green Army team supervisors will not receive the green army allowance. Supervisors will be employed by the Green Army service provider and paid a wage under the applicable award.

Payability of income support during Green Army

A person cannot receive income support payments and the green army allowance at the same time. Full-time Green Army participants will automatically receive the green army allowance. If a participant commences receiving the green army allowance, their social security pension or benefit will cease to be payable from date the person is first entitled to receive the green army allowance. This will usually be the date they commence their project in the Green Army Programme.

Note: The above does not apply to Green Army team supervisors. Green Army team supervisors are employees receiving a wage and will be treated the same as any other income support recipient commencing full-time work. A team supervisor's wages are assessed as employment income and working credit, income free area and taper rates, and the employment income nil rate period will apply as relevant to their income support payment.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'green army allowance', section 38H Non-payment of social security benefit or social security pension if person receiving green army allowance

Suspension, restoration & cancellation arrangements during Green Army

Specific suspension, restoration and cancellation arrangements apply to Green Army participants whose social security pension or benefit ceases to be payable because they are receiving the green army allowance.

Where a person commences receiving the green army allowance, their income support payment (including any add-ons paid as part of their payment) will be suspended for the duration that they are receiving the green army allowance plus an additional 4 weeks after they cease receiving the green army allowance. The maximum possible suspension period is 30 weeks. The date of effect for suspension is the first day on which the person is entitled to receive the green army allowance and on which income support ceases to be payable.

Green Army participants whose payments are suspended are able to have their payments restored if they cease receiving green army allowance and notify Centrelink of this fact within 4 weeks. The date of effect for resumption of payment is the date that the person notifies Centrelink that they are no longer receiving green army allowance, or the date they cease to receive green army allowance, whichever is the later.

If recipients do not notify Centrelink to have their payments resumed within 4 weeks of ceasing to receive the green army allowance, payments will be cancelled. The date of effect for the cancellation is the date on which payment was suspended.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 80(1) Cancellation or suspension determination, section 85 Resumption of payment after cancellation or suspension, section 110 Date of effect of favourable determination, section 118(2C) If an adverse determination is made to give effect to section 38H of the 1991 Act…, section 118(11) If (a) a person's social security payment is suspended…

Part-time Green Army participants

In limited circumstances, eligible participants may be able to undertake the Green Army Programme on a part-time basis. Part-time participants will be able to elect either to remain on their income support payment or to receive a pro-rata green army allowance.

Part-time participants who choose to remain on income support will be paid an APWS of $20.80 per fortnight, provided they meet the eligibility requirements for the supplement. The APWS is taxable, but is exempt from the income test.

Where a part-time participant elects to receive the green army allowance, their income support payment will cease to be payable and they will be subject to the same suspension, restoration and cancellation rules as full-time participants (see above).

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.8.18 APWS - Qualification & Payability, 3.2.9.85 Suitable Activity - Green Army Programme

Eligibility for concession cards during Green Army

Eligibility for an automatically-issued concession card is directly linked to the receipt of a qualifying income support payment. Green Army participants who have their income support payment suspended due to receiving the green army allowance (see above) will cease to be eligible for any associated concession card. These Green Army participants may be eligible for a LIC if they meet the LIC income test.

Part-time Green Army participants who elect to remain on income support will remain entitled to any concession card associated with their payment type as per the general qualification rules for concession cards.

Green Army supervisors who go onto an employment income nil rate period or lose their social security pension or benefit due to employment income may be able to retain their PCC or HCC for an extended period following the cessation of their payment.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.9.1.10 Qualification for HCC - Automatic Issue, 3.9.1.20 Qualification for LIC, 3.9.2.30 PCC due to Employment

Income test arrangements for green army allowance.

Income testing of the green army allowance is not relevant for the Green Army participant as income support is not payable to participants while they are receiving the green army allowance. However, where the participant has a partner on income support, the green army allowance is assessable under the income test for the purposes of calculating the partner's rate of payment. Different rules apply when assessing the green army allowance, depending on whether the partner is receiving a pension or an allowance.

For the purposes of the income test for the partner of the participant, the green army allowance is ordinary income but is NOT employment income. This is because it is not income from remunerative work undertaken by the person as an employee in an employer or employee relationship (Green Army participants are not considered employees of the Commonwealth or employees of their Green Army service provider).

Act reference: SSAct section 8 Income test definitions, section 38J Certain participants in Green Army Programme are not workers or employees under Commonwealth laws

Partner income testing of green army allowance - partner is a pensioner

Green army allowance up to a particular threshold is disregarded as ordinary income under the income test for pensions. Only the amount of the participant's green army allowance that exceeds the threshold is assessed as ordinary income when calculating the rate of their partner's pension under the income test.

The threshold amounts are set at the basic rate of NSA (if partner is 22 years or older) or YA (if partner is below 22 years) applicable in the partner's circumstances. The threshold amounts increase in March and September (for NSA) or January (for YA) each year in line with indexation of these MBRs.

Using rates as at 1 July 2014, the threshold amounts are:

  • Aged 22 years or older, partnered - $460.90,
  • Aged under 22 years, partnered no children - $414.40,
  • Aged under 22 years, partnered with children - $455.00,
  • For current rates, see 5.1.8.20 Common Benefit Rates and 5.1.1.20 YA - Current Rates.

Example: Partner income testing of green army allowance - partner is a pensioner. (All rates and thresholds are as at 1 July 2014.)

Circumstances Explanation
Rebecca is 23 and receives green army allowance of $987 per fortnight. Her partner Alex is receiving DSP. Green army allowance is $987.00. The applicable threshold is $460.90 per fortnight.
The 'excess' amount of green army allowance is $526.10 per fortnight. $987.00 − $460.90 = $526.10
The excess amount is added to any other income the couple has. 50% of the couple's joint income is attributed to Alex and assessed under the DSP income test.

Couple's joint income is $526.10.

$526.10 × 0.5 = $263.05

Alex's assessable income is $263.05.

Income above the income free area reduces the rate of the Alex's pension by 50 cents in the dollar.

The partnered income free area is $142.00.

$263.05 − $142.00 = $121.05

$121.05 × 0.5 = $60.52

Rebecca's green army allowance will reduce Alex's pension by $60.52 per fortnight.  

Note: Pensions are calculated under the income test as an annual rate - a fortnight rate calculation has been used above as an example only.

Act reference: SSAct section 38K Income test for person's social security pension if green army allowance payable to person's partner

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.2.1.10 Pensions income test & limits

Partner income testing of green army allowance - partner is an allowee

If the Green Army participant's partner is receiving an allowance, there is no threshold amount that is disregarded as ordinary income. The full amount of green army allowance is assessed as ordinary income when calculating the partner's rate of allowance. This amount is assessed under the partner income test rules that apply to allowance payments.

Example: Partner income testing of green army allowance - partner is an allowee. (All rates and thresholds are as at 1 July 2014.)

Circumstances Explanation
Akmal is 20 and receives green army allowance of $987 per fortnight. His partner Maya is receiving PPP. Akmal's income from green army allowance is $987.00.
Under the partner income test, Akmal's income has no impact up to the partner income free area. Partner income free area is $920.00 (as Akmal is aged 20 and would otherwise qualify for YA).
Income above the partner income free area reduces the rate of Maya's PPP by 60 cents in the dollar.

$987.00 − $920.00 = $67.00

$67.00 × 0.6 = $40.20

Akmal's green army allowance will reduce Maya's PPP by $40.20 per fortnight.  

Policy reference: SS Guide 4.2.2 Benefits Income Test & Limits, 4.2.4.20 PPP Income & Assets Tests & Limits

Last reviewed: 1 July 2014