126.96.36.199 CCS - activity test - general
The activity test is one of the 3 factors that will determine an individual's (1.1.I.90) level of CCS (the others being the family's combined annual ATI (1.1.A.20) and the applicable hourly rate cap (1.1.H.20) depending on the type of child care service (1.1.A.90) used).
This topic includes:
- hours of recognised activity
- ACCS & the CCS activity test
- recognised activities for CCS activity test
- reporting hours of activity
- hours of activity do not need to coincide with child care hours
- combining activities
- reasonable travel time
- starting paid work or increasing hours of paid work
- casual or irregular work
- evidentiary requirements
- change in activity.
Hours of recognised activity
To be entitled (1.1.E.30) to subsidised care, an individual must either meet the activity test, or be exempt. If the individual is not exempt from the activity test, the number of hours of subsidised care the individual will be entitled to per fortnight will be determined by the amount of recognised activity the individual, and their partner (1.1.P.30) if they have one, undertakes in a CCS fortnight (1.1.C.10). Unless otherwise specified, the activity test result applies to all children in the family.
In single parent families, the sole parent (1.1.P.10) must meet the activity test or have an exemption.
In 2 parent families, each parent must meet the activity test or have an exemption. The parent with the lowest activity test result will determine the hours of subsidised care for the family.
The following table shows the number of subsidised hours of approved child care an individual is entitled to receive in a CCS fortnight based on their hours of recognised activity:
|Activity test step
|Hours of recognised activity per fortnight
|Maximum number of hours of subsidised child care per CCS fortnight
Less than 8 hours
0 hours if ATI is above $80,000
24 hours if ATI is $80,000 or below
|8 hours to 16 hours
|More than 16 hours to 48 hours
|More than 48 hours
Families with combined annual ATI of $80,000* or less who do not meet or who are not exempt from the activity test will be entitled to 24 hours of subsidised care per fortnight under the Child Care Safety Net.
From July 2023, families will get at least 36 subsidised hours of early childhood education and care per fortnight for each Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child in their care.
*Figure relates to the 2023-24 income year and will be indexed by the CPI at the commencement of each financial year (to take effect on 10 July 2023 for CCS and ACCS purposes).
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 2 clause 12 Recognised activity result
Policy reference: FA Guide 3.5.5 CCS & ACCS - exceptional circumstances
ACCS & the CCS activity test
Individuals who are eligible for ACCS (child wellbeing), ACCS (temporary financial hardship) and ACCS (grandparent) are exempt from the CCS activity test. Individuals on these payments will automatically be entitled to up to 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight.
Individuals will still be required to provide information on their activity:
- to determine the number of subsidised hours for children not covered by ACCS, or
- in case they need to access CCS once their certificate or determination finishes.
If an individual has been receiving ACCS (child wellbeing) for 6 months or more they will be exempt from the activity test for a further 18 months for the child, once ACCS (child wellbeing) has ceased.
Individuals eligible for the ACCS (transition to work) are subject to the CCS activity test.
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 2 clause 11 Individual's activity test result, clause 15 Child wellbeing result
Policy reference: FA Guide 188.8.131.52 ACCS (transition to work) - activity test, 184.108.40.206 ACCS (child wellbeing) - certificates, 220.127.116.11 ACCS (child wellbeing) - determinations, 18.104.22.168 ACCS (temporary financial hardship) - determinations
Recognised activities for CCS activity test
The following activities are recognised for the CCS activity test:
|What are recognised activities?
|Approved course of education or study
Training to improve work skills and/or employment prospects
|Unpaid voluntary work
|Unpaid work experience or unpaid internship
|Unpaid work for a family business owned by an immediate family member
Each of the following is considered a member of the individual's immediate family:
Each of the following is a child of the other person:
Actively looking for work
Actively setting up a business that has not yet started to operate
If an individual undertakes another type of activity (not listed above) that would maintain or improve work skills or employment prospects (or both), they can make an application to Centrelink to have these hours of activity recognised for the purpose of the CCS activity test.
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 2 clause 12(2) What is recognised activity
CCSMinRules Part 3 Division 3 Recognised activities
SSAct section 5(1)-'adopted child', section 1207A-'child'
Policy reference: FA Guide 22.214.171.124 CCS - other recognised activities
Reporting hours of activity
The following paragraphs explain how individuals should report the number of hours of recognised activity they are participating in each fortnight.
Hours of activity do not need to coincide with child care hours
When declaring activity hours for CCS, the activity hours do not need to coincide with child care hours. For example, an individual undertaking work on the weekends will be entitled to CCS during the week.
Individuals can combine recognised activities and the individual's activity test result is determined by counting all the hours of recognised activities undertaken in a fortnight.
Example: Jane does paid work for 12 hours per fortnight, volunteers at her child's school reading to children for 6 hours per fortnight, and does unpaid work in her family's business for 8 hours per fortnight. Jane's activity would be a combined total of 26 hours per fortnight, which would entitle her to 72 hours of subsidised approved child care per fortnight (step 2 of the activity test).
Reasonable travel time
To support the various distances families need to travel for child care, individuals can include reasonable travel time when declaring their hours of activity. This is the time taken travelling from the approved child care service to the place where they do the activity and travel from this place back to the child care service.
Travel time where the child is in the care of the individual should not be included when reporting hours of activity; this means:
- travel from home to the child care service to drop the child off, and
- travel time from the service to home or other locations after collecting the child.
To inform consideration of reasonable travel time, individuals should consider how long it takes to reach their place of work or other activity directly from the child care service, and vice versa. Travel time can include travel via a car, bicycle, public transport and/or walking where appropriate.
If the place of work or other activity varies day to day, individuals should take this into account when estimating total travel time on a fortnightly basis.
Example: Nadia is a single parent who lives in Western Sydney and works 7 hours a day in a financial services office near the Sydney CBD. Nadia's son Jason attends a CBDC service close to the family home. After she drops Jason at the service, it takes Nadia one hour to drive directly to her workplace and one hour to return. Nadia bases her activity estimate on 9 hours per day - 7 hours of work and 2 hours of travel.
Example: Kate works as a beauty therapist for 6 hours a day in Canberra. Her son Cale attends a CBDC service near the family home. After dropping off her son at the service, Kate has a 30 minute drive to the salon. After finishing her shift, she goes to the gym for an hour-long workout before returning to the service to collect her son. Kate's activity estimate of 7 hours per day includes her hours of work and her 30 minute travel time to and from the service - 6 hours of work and one hour of travel. Kate's travel time estimate, however, cannot include her hour at the gym.
Starting paid work or increasing hours of paid work
Individuals starting paid work or increasing their hours of paid work, may have this change in activity recognised from the beginning of the CCS fortnight before the CCS fortnight when work actually commences, or hours of paid work increase.
Depending on how far into a CCS fortnight the individual begins or increases their hours of paid work, their new activity test result could be applied for at least 14 days, or up to 28 days, before the actual day they commence their new work arrangements.
To benefit from this rule, individuals must notify Centrelink as soon as possible when they know they are starting a job or increasing their hours of paid work.
This rule applies to individuals starting or increasing hours of paid work only and cannot be applied to other recognised activities. For activities other than paid work, individuals notifying Centrelink of a change in their activity will have their new activity test result apply from the beginning of the next CCS fortnight.
Paid work that varies unpredictably
An individual whose hours of paid work vary unpredictably from fortnight to fortnight (such as those in casual employment) can estimate the highest number of hours they expect to work in a single fortnight over a 3‑month period. This estimate will be used to determine their hours of subsidised approved child care per fortnight. Estimating hours on this basis will not be needed by workers with a consistent number of fortnightly hours (who will be required to report their actual hours of activity), and this approach can only be applied to report unpredictable hours of paid work (not for other types of recognised activity).
Example: Suzie is a single parent working at a supermarket. Her hours per fortnight can vary from 15 (2 shifts per fortnight) to 45 (6 shifts per fortnight). Occasionally she can also be called in to work at short notice for extra shifts if they are short staffed on the day.
Suzie's working hours across 6 fortnights range from 15 hours to 45 hours per fortnight - this would ordinarily give her an activity test result of 36 hours or 72 hours respectively, depending on the hours she worked in that fortnight.
To support her estimated maximum hours of paid work with access to sufficient hours of subsidised approved child care, Suzie would declare an estimate of 45 hours of paid work per fortnight and would be entitled to 72 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight (step 2 of the activity test).
Example: Milli works 2 casual jobs in the fast food industry. Her total hours can vary significantly across fortnights - in some fortnights she may not work at all, while in others she can be assigned up to 5 four hour shifts.
Milli's working hours across 6 fortnights range from 0 hours to 20 hours per fortnight - this would ordinarily give her an activity test result of zero (unless she was entitled to 24 hours of subsidised care under the Child Care Safety Net) or 72 hours respectively, depending on the hours she worked in that fortnight.
To support her estimated maximum hours of paid work with access to sufficient hours of subsidised approved child care, Milli would declare an estimate of 20 hours of paid work per fortnight and would be entitled to 72 hours of subsidised child care in each fortnight (step 2 of the activity test).
Individuals who estimate activity in this way will need to notify Centrelink of a change where their level of activity, estimated over 3 months, would cause them to move to another step of the activity test. This would include, for example, where the individual stopped working altogether or where the basis of their 3‑month estimate has changed and needs to be updated. In the first example, if Suzie moved to a permanent arrangement of two 7.5 hour shifts per fortnight (15 hours of paid work per fortnight), she should notify Centrelink as this would result in her moving to step 1 of the activity test, and being entitled to 36 hours of subsidised care per fortnight. In the second example, if Milli stopped working, she should notify Centrelink as this would result in her potentially not meeting the activity test, depending on what other recognised activities she is undertaking, or activity test exemptions she may be eligible for.
Individuals self-declare activity to Centrelink and generally evidence is not required at the time of claim or when updating their activity information. Centrelink will ask some individuals to provide evidence as part of their normal random spot checks.
Evidence could include, a copy of a payslip or a letter from the organisation where the individual is a volunteer.
Change in activity
When an individual (or their partner) experiences a change in activity that would affect their entitlement, for example, that would mean they move from one step of the activity test to the next, they are required to notify Centrelink as soon as possible.
If an individual reports a change in activity in advance of the change occurring, the new activity test result will take effect from the beginning of the CCS fortnight after the change occurred.
If the individual reports a change in activity after the change occurred, the change will take effect from the beginning of the CCS fortnight after the change was notified.
If the change in activity test result is beneficial to the individual (for example, it caused the individual to be entitled to more hours of subsidised care per fortnight) a review will be conducted, but the higher result will only be applied for a maximum of 28 days prior to the change being reported to Centrelink.
If the change is not beneficial to the individual (for example, it caused them to be entitled to fewer hours of subsidised care per fortnight) a review will be conducted, and the lower result will be applied as far back as the change occurred. That is, if the individual reports the change 6 months late they may incur a debt in relation to payments already calculated and made on the basis that they had access to more hours of subsidised care than they were in fact entitled to, for that whole period.
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 2 clause 12(7) Changes in the number of hours of recognised activity
FA(Admin)Act section 67FB Notice of change of circumstances: individuals, section 105C Review of entitlement to be paid CCS or ACCS-taking account of changes of circumstances etc.
Policy reference: FA Guide 126.96.36.199 CCS & ACCS - change in activity/income