The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Healthy Start for School exemptions (FTB)


If an individual or their partner receives an income support payment on any day that the individual is also receiving FTB Part A, and they have an FTB child that turns 4 in that income year, an age-appropriate health check must be undertaken, or an appropriate exemption must be granted, or the FTB child rate may be reduced for each day during an FTB child rate reduction period (1.1.F.58).

Exemptions include:

  • general exemptions
  • special circumstances exemption, and
  • death of an FTB individual or FTB child.

General exemptions - children taken to meet the health check requirement

Certain children will be taken to meet the health check requirement if they are in a class of children specified in a determination made by the Minister.

The Minister has specified the following classes of children:

  • From 2018-19 onwards, a child who qualifies their carer for CP, CA or a HCC (because the carer is qualified for CA for the child, either alone or with another care receiver) at any time from the beginning of the income year in which the child turned 4 to the day before the child turns 5 (or a later day determined by Centrelink which can be no later than the child's sixth birthday).
  • From 2018-19 onwards, a child assessed by a medical practitioner as having a severe disability or severe medical condition and who has undergone, during the period beginning the day the child turns 3 and ending the day before the child turns 5 (or a later day determined by Centrelink which can be no later than the child's sixth birthday), a health assessment suitable to their needs conducted by a suitably qualified health professional.

Act reference: FAAct section 61A(9) Legislative instrument

Family Tax Benefit (Meeting the Health Check Requirement) Determination 2018

Special circumstances exemption

If special circumstances exist in relation to the FTB individual or their partner (or both) that make it inappropriate to arrange a health check for the child, an exemption from the requirement for the individual to arrange the health check for their child may be granted at the discretion of Centrelink. Special circumstance exemptions may be granted on or after the day the child turned 5, provided that Centrelink has been made aware of the circumstances before the child turned 5.

In deciding whether a special circumstances exemption applies, the particular facts of each case need to be considered. This exemption should only be granted in unusual and unexpected situations.

Factors that may give rise to a special circumstances exemption include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • the individual's medical circumstances
  • issues of isolation and/or remoteness, relating to difficulties in accessing doctors/nurses or other medical practitioners to conduct health assessments, for example, where access is only available through the flying doctor service and used for emergencies only.

It will usually be a combination of factors rather than a single factor that makes the circumstances unusual, unforeseen or exceptional to warrant a special circumstances exemption and circumstances must be considered on a case by case basis. Below is an example of a situation where a special circumstances exemption should not be applied.

Example: Cecelia lives on a remote cattle station in NT and receives FTB Part A for her child who is turning 4 in the 2018-19 income year. The nearest medical facility is several hundred kilometres away. The Royal Flying Doctor service provides remote medical services on-line and by radio and provides a visiting service at least twice a year, as well as in emergency situations. After receiving her letter informing her of the health check requirement, Cecelia requests a special circumstances exemption on the basis that she will have to wait until the next available opportunity to organise a physical check for her child, which could be several months away and she does not want to be put in danger of an FTB child rate reduction.

Based on these facts, this would not constitute special circumstances. Even if Cecelia cannot get her child's health checked some time during the 2018-19 income year, she still has up until her child turns 5 to get the health check completed and to notify Centrelink. Cecelia has an obligation to ensure the health check is completed for her child or the FTB child rate may be reduced for each day during an FTB child rate reduction period.

Death of the FTB individual or FTB child

For income years prior to 2018-19, if the FTB individual dies either during the income year in which the child turns 4, or within the subsequent year after the year in which the child turned 4, an exemption will apply. For income years 2018-19 onwards, if the child dies during the income year in which the child turns 4 or before their fifth birthday or any later days determined by Centrelink, an exemption will apply. If the child dies during an FTB child rate reduction period for the child, a rate reduction for failing to meet the health check requirement will no longer apply in relation to that child.

Example: Joshua receives FTB for his daughter Gertrude who turns 4 in the 2017-18 income year. Joshua dies in the 2018-19 income year. Special circumstances will apply as Joshua dies within the first 12 months that Gertrude turned 4.

Example: Jade receives FTB for her son Bobby who turns 4 in the 2018-19 income year. Bobby dies prior to his fifth birthday which means special circumstances will apply.

However, as the special circumstances exemption applies to the individual, the health check requirement will still apply in relation to the child following a change of care that occurs within the income year the child turns 4, when the new carer meets the criteria to be subject to the requirement.

Act reference: FAAct section 61A(1)(d)(iv) Reduction in FTB child rate unless the health check requirement satisfied, section 61D Death of an FTB child

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