11.1.14.40 Exemptions from Income Management for People with under School-age Children

Introduction

Only a designated principal carer may qualify for a responsible parenting category exemption. To qualify for a responsible parenting category exemption, all the dependants of a principal carer must meet the conditions below, or satisfy the conditions of 11.1.14.50 for school-aged children. However, if a child is a dependant of more than one person, for the purpose of this exemption, the child should generally be considered the dependant of the principal carer.

People with one or more children under compulsory school age may qualify for a responsible parenting category exemption where each child is:

  • participating in the required number and kind of activities set out below.

The person must have also demonstrated they were not financially vulnerable during the previous 12 months (11.1.14.30).

Activities for under school-aged children

If a dependent child is under compulsory school age the child must be participating in the required number and kind of activities specified in a legislative instrument by the Minister (see below). The activities must relate to either health and/or engagement.

Group 1: Health

Requirements are that:

  • the child is immunised in accordance with the age appropriate early childhood immunisation schedule or has an approved catch up vaccination schedule in accordance with FAAct section 6 (see FA Guide 1.1.I.10). or:
    • a child has an exemption based on medical grounds, or
    • a child has natural immunity, or
    • a particular vaccine is unavailable, or
    • the Secretary has determined that the child meets the immunisation requirements.
  • the child has received regular child health and development checks as set out in the personal health and immunisation record as published by the Northern Territory Government. The personal health and immunisation record requires health checks at the age of:
    • up to 10 days,
    • 4 weeks,
    • 2 months,
    • 6 - 8 months,
    • 12 months,
    • 18 months,
    • 2 years 6 months,
    • 3 - 4 years.
  • the child is participating in a program of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy or other approved therapy, as evidenced by documentation from a THP (1.1.T.170, see 'Definition: CA & CP (child)') (participation in this case means reasonable participation, as assessed by the THP).

Evidence can be obtained from health clinics, maternal and child health services, doctors and specialists. Evidence may include:

  • the personal health and immunisation record,
  • the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families Healthcare Details - Exemptions from income management form,
  • a letter from a health professional,
  • a statement from Medicare Australia, or
  • other appropriate information, subject to the delegate's consideration.

The person may subsequently apply for an exemption by providing evidence that the child has had immunisations (including catch up immunisations where required) relevant to the current age of the child, and the child has received all required health and development checks in the previous 12 months.

Evidence of an immunisation does not equal evidence of a health and development check. Separate evidence must be obtained for each health requirement.

Group 2: Engagement

Requirements are that the child is participating in:

  • approved child care for at least 8 hours per week. Approved child care is child care that has been approved by the government for CCS. The following are approved:
    • centre-based day care,
    • family day care,
    • outside school hours care,
    • in home care.
  • playgroup,
  • a crèche,
  • kinder-gym,
  • other age appropriate socialisation, learning, or physical activities' category, or
  • primary school (this is intended to cover children who are still under compulsory school age, but are enrolled in/attending school).

For formal activities such as preschool and child care, suitable evidence may be a letter from the service provider stating the child is enrolled and attending the activity regularly.

For informal activities such as kinder gym, crèche and playgroups verbal confirmation from the person seeking the exemption is generally sufficient.

Participation in approved child care can be confirmed by Centrelink by matching CCS records.

If suitable evidence cannot be obtained, as a last resort, the delegate may take steps to confirm that requirements have been met, such as contacting the providers by phone.

Number & type of activities required

The requirements for parents seeking an exemption from income management are as follows:

  • for children aged under 36 months, at least 2 activities from the health group,
  • for children between 36 months and 48 months, at least 2 activities from the health group and one activity from the engagement group,
  • for children aged 48 months and over (who are below compulsory school age):
    • 2 activities from the health group, and
    • regular participation in preschool OR 2 activities from the engagement group. The 2 activities cannot be from the one requirement, i.e. from the 'other age appropriate socialisation, learning or physical activities' category for children aged 48 months and over (who are below compulsory school age), who are enrolled in and attending school, exemption criteria may also be met from 11.1.14.50.

Special circumstances

In cases where a child under compulsory school age has significant disabilities or medical issues and is not able to participate in the engagement activities, then 3 activities from the health activities would be sufficient, due to the difficulty of finding appropriately supported social activities. Evidence of significant disabilities would be provided to Centrelink in the form of a practitioner's certificate.

Example 1: Pearl is in receipt of PPS and is being income managed under the Long-term Welfare Payment Recipient Measure. Pearl has a 2 year old son, Jackson. She applies for an exemption from income management and the delegate determines that she is not financially vulnerable. Pearl provides Jackson's personal health and immunisation record, which has a record of Jackson's regular health and development checks at the local clinic. It also has a record of Jackson's immunisations. Based on this information, Pearl is granted an exemption from income management.

Example 2: Wendy is in receipt of PPP and is being income managed under the Disengaged Youth Measure. Wendy has a 3 year old daughter named Skye. Wendy applies for an exemption from income management and the delegate determines she is not financially vulnerable. Wendy has made sure Skye is up-to-date with her immunisations and health and development checks and this information is recorded in her personal health and immunisation record. Wendy reports to Centrelink that she has been taking Skye to a regular, informal playgroup twice a week that has been set up by a group of young mothers who meet in the park for several hours while their children play together. Based on this information Wendy is granted an exemption from income management.

Example 3: Kurt is receiving PPS and is being income managed under the Long Term Welfare Payment Recipient Measure. Kurt is the dependent carer for 2 children, Troy (aged 15 months) and Barnaby (aged 1 month). Kurt has applied for an exemption from income management and the delegate determines that he is not financially vulnerable. Barnaby is up-to-date with his immunisations and health and development checks but Troy is not. Troy has received all age appropriate immunisations but has not received all required health and development checks in the previous 12 months. Troy received a 4 month and 12 month health and development check but missed the 6 - 8 month health and development check. In this situation Kurt is not granted an exemption from income management. When Kurt reapplies for an exemption 6 months later, he is able to demonstrate that Troy, who is now 21 months, has received all age appropriate health checks from the previous 12 months. Barnaby is still up-to-date with his health and development checks and immunisations. Based on this information Kurt is granted an exemption.

Example 4: Victor is receiving PPS and is being income managed under the Long-term Welfare Payment Recipient Measure. Victor has 2 children, Sherry (aged 14) and Owen (aged 3). Victor has applied for an exemption from income management and the delegate determines that he is not financially vulnerable. Victor is able to demonstrate that Owen has had all required health and development checks and immunisations and reports that he is also attending kinder gym once a week. Sherry has been truanting from school and has 10 unauthorised absences in the previous school term according to her school report. Based on this information Victor is not granted an exemption.

Purpose of requiring health, development & engagement activities

There is no legal requirement for children under school age to attend preschool, child care or other early learning activities, and many children do not attend formal activities while still infants. While it is not compulsory to send children to school, preschool or child care, there is evidence that children benefit from social interactions prior to formal schooling and associated parental engagement.

Increased attendance by children in quality early childhood education and care is associated with increased participation in education, positive social behaviours in school and later life, higher educational achievement and often higher returns on investment than remedial interventions later in life.

Medical check-ups are also not compulsory, but are highly recommended and can be considered an indicator of responsible, engaged parenting.

The purpose of requiring engagement in certain activities is not to enforce mandatory requirements but rather to promote additional activities and efforts for children.

Note: The context of a dependent child of another person reflects as the principal carer.

Last reviewed: 20 September 2018