This topic provides an overview of ParentsNext (1.1.P.57) including:
- background and objectives
- eligibility criteria
- compulsory participants
- voluntary participants
- participation requirements
- suitable activities, and
- exiting ParentsNext.
Background & objectives
ParentsNext operates nationally, across all non-remote employment regions to help parents of young children receiving PP to plan and prepare for employment.
The 3 broad objectives of ParentsNext are to:
- target early intervention assistance to parents at risk of long-term welfare dependency
- help parents identify their education and employment related goals and participate in activities that help them achieve their goals, and
- connect parents to local services that can help them address any barriers to employment.
The program is delivered in 2 streams - an intensive stream in 30 locations, and a targeted stream in remaining non-remote areas. Both streams provide parents with connections to a wide range of services, which could include pre-employment training, mentoring, work experience and job opportunities.
ParentsNext assists PP recipients with a youngest child aged between 6 months and under 6 years of age who have not reported earnings from employment in the past 6 months. The eligibility criteria for ParentsNext varies between streams, with broader criteria for the intensive stream.
A compulsory participant is one who is required to participate in ParentsNext. A person will be required to participate if they meet all of the following criteria:
- has been in receipt of PP (partnered or single) for at least 6 months continuously
- has a youngest child aged under 6 years
- has no reported earnings from employment in the previous 6 months
AND meet at least ONE of the following stream criteria:
- for those residing in an intensive stream location, 1 of the following
- is an early school leaver - aged under 22 years and has not completed the final year of secondary school, or an equivalent level of education (Certification III qualification or above), and with a youngest child at least 6 months of age
- has a youngest child aged at least 5 years, OR
- is eligible for ParentsNext based on a JSCI assessment with a youngest child at least 6 months of age.
- for those residing in a targeted stream location, 1 of the following
- is an early school leaver - aged under 22 years and has not completed the final year of secondary school, or an equivalent level of education (Certificate III qualification or above), and with a youngest child at least 1 year of age
- has a youngest child at least 5 years of age and is part of a jobless family, this is where a family has no reported employment earnings in the previous 6 months. For PP (partnered) recipients this includes the declared earnings of their partner, OR
- is eligible for ParentsNext based on a JSCI assessment, with a youngest child at least 3 years of age.
Services Australia assesses whether a parent meets the criteria for a compulsory participant.
To volunteer for ParentsNext a parent must be in receipt of PP, have a child aged under 6 years and reside in an intensive stream location.
Voluntary participants are not legally required to meet participation requirements. Accordingly, voluntary participants are not subject to the targeted compliance framework under the SSAct.
Act reference: SSAct section 500(1)(ca) … in a case where the person is in a class of persons …
ParentsNext is available nationally with the intensive stream delivered in 30 locations. The 30 intensive stream locations are:
- NSW: Bankstown, Wyong, Shellharbour, Dubbo, Sydney‑Central, Mid Coast, Orange, North Coast, Tamworth
- NT: Darwin-Palmerston, Alice Springs
- SA: Playford, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta & Whyalla
- Qld: Cairns, Logan, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Mackay, Townsville
- WA: Kwinana, Perth-South, Perth-East, Geraldton and Broome
- Tas.: Burnie and Brighton
- Vic.: Greater Shepparton, Hume and Mildura.
ParentsNext provider appointments
Both voluntary and compulsory participants are required to attend regular appointments with their ParentsNext provider. Parents are required to attend an initial face-to-face appointment with their provider and then regular, at a minimum, quarterly contacts.
At the initial appointment, providers:
- outline the objectives of ParentsNext
- explain what ParentsNext will deliver
- conduct a JSCI assessment (if required)
- discuss the parent's long-term and short-term education and employment related goals and identify a pathway to achieve the goals, taking into consideration individual and family circumstances
- start negotiating an EPP (known as a participation plan for ParentsNext) which includes a compulsory activity for compulsory participants. The participation plan must be presented to the parent within 4 weeks of the initial appointment
- identify suitable and available activities and services in the local area and refer if appropriate
- for compulsory participants, explain their obligations under the social security law and the consequences of not meeting these obligations.
At subsequent quarterly contacts, ParentsNext providers assist parents to review their goals and update their participation plan, taking into account any change in circumstances. For compulsory participants, providers must confirm that parents are actively engaged in their compulsory activity and check whether a new compulsory activity is needed.
If voluntary participants fail to attend 2 consecutive appointments, they will be exited from ParentsNext (see Exiting ParentsNext). If a compulsory participant fails to attend an appointment, the targeted compliance framework will apply. Participation requirements and the targeted compliance framework under the SSAct are outlined below.
Participation requirements (compulsory participants only)
Compulsory participants have participation requirements, which include attending appointments with a provider, signing a participation plan (EPP) and undertaking an agreed activity that assists them plan and prepare for employment.
Participation plans are individually tailored and take into account each parent's individual circumstances and capacity to comply with agreed activities; they cannot include unsuitable or unreasonable requirements. Parents cannot be required to participate in a job search activity but they can choose to do so.
ParentsNext providers are responsible for negotiating participation plans with participants. The plans are developed and presented to the participant in the 4-week period following their initial appointment. The participant must sign the plan within 10 business days of receiving it. Participation plans can be renegotiated and updated any time to reflect changes to a participant's circumstances.
If a participant's unforeseen circumstances prevent them from complying with 1 or more activities in their plan they must contact their provider to reschedule the activity or renegotiate their plan.
Act reference: SSAct section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plan-terms
Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.P.71 Participation plan (ParentsNext)
Suitable activities (compulsory participants only)
The participation plan for compulsory participants must include at least ONE compulsory activity (unless the most appropriate activity can be recorded as voluntary, e.g. drug and alcohol assistance) that assists them to work towards their employment or education goal. Additional voluntary activities may be included in a plan, if agreed between a parent and their ParentsNext provider.
ParentsNext providers must work closely with each parent to determine the most appropriate activity/ies for their participation plan. Providers must consider each participant's preferences and goals, and their personal and family circumstances.
Suitable pre-vocational activities may include:
- confidence building courses
- personal development or presentation skills
- financial management
- attendance at medical or health related appointments or activities (medical appointments or treatment can only be recorded as a voluntary activity in the participation plan).
Suitable vocational preparation activities may include:
- training or education activities, for example, TAFE, secondary school, adult education courses
- part-time work
- voluntary work
- Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program
- Adult Migrant English Program
- work preparation activities
- jobactive, NEIS, Regional Employment Trials Program, Vocational Training and Education Centres (VTECs), and Transition to Work.
There is no minimum hourly participation requirement that compulsory participants must meet. However, participants are expected to fulfil the hourly requirements of the course/activity they agree to in their participation plan. For example, if a participant's compulsory activity is to attend a TAFE course for 3 hours twice a week, the parent is expected to attend for 3 hours twice a week until the course is completed.
Act reference: SSAct section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plan-terms
Compulsory participants will exit ParentsNext when:
- they are in stable employment (as determined by their ParentsNext provider)
- their youngest PP child turns 6 years of age
- their PP is cancelled
- they relocate outside the ParentsNext locations
- they move from an intensive stream location to a targeted stream location and do not meet the targeted stream eligibility, OR
- they are in the targeted stream and give birth to a new child.
Voluntary participants can remain in ParentsNext until:
- they no longer reside in a ParentsNext intensive stream location
- they commence in jobactive, Transition to Work, DES or NEIS
- their youngest PP child turns 6 years of age, OR
- their PP is cancelled.