3.2.5.85 YA Concessional Workforce Independence Criteria for Regional Students

Self-supporting through paid employment

A young person whose family home is in a location categorised under the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure published by the ABS as inner regional Australia, outer regional Australia, remote Australia or very remote Australia, (or whose family home is on Norfolk Island), may also be considered independent for YA purposes if they have supported themselves through paid work consisting of:

  • part-time employment of at least 15 hours per week for at least 2 years since the person last left secondary school (see Note 1 below), OR
  • a period or periods of employment over a 14-month period since the person last left secondary school, with cumulative earnings totalling at least 75% of Wage Level A of the National Training Wage schedule included in a modern award or that maximum rate as varied or replaced by Fair Work Australia (see Note 2 below).

Note 1: In relation to the 15 hours work over 2 years criterion:

  • the person must have worked 15 hours every week over consecutive weeks for a continuous 2-year period,
  • periods of paid leave in relation to employment may be counted as paid work hours for the purpose of this criterion, and
  • the 2-year period can commence any time after the person last left secondary school.

Note 2: In relation to the paid work in a 14-month period with cumulative earnings criterion:

  • the appropriate rate of Wage Level A of the National Training Wage schedule (1.1.N.12) included in a modern award is the rate that applied when the period/s of employment began,
  • a period of 14 months must have elapsed since the young person last left secondary school,
  • the employment period/s must have occurred since the person last left school, and
  • a person does not need to be in employment for the whole 14-month period. Rather, they are required to have engaged in employment at one or more times during the 14-month period, and to have accumulated the required amount of 'cumulative earnings' from this employment.

The person can be considered independent under one of these criteria if:

  • the person is required to live away from home (3.2.6), and
  • the person is undertaking full-time study (3.2.7), and
  • the person's combined parental income is less than the parental income threshold.

Example: Kate left school on 30 November 2016 and commenced working on 10 February 2017. Her family home is classified as being in an inner regional area and her parents earn less than the parental income threshold. She moves away from home to study in 2018 as the university is more than 90 minutes from her family home. She first applies for YA on 1 February 2018 in which time she has earned $25,565 from her casual job. The appropriate wage from the National Training Wage schedule to use is $32,056 (75% = $24,042) as Kate commenced employment between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017. As Kate has left school over 14 months ago and has earned 75% of the relevant National Training Wage schedule rate in a 14-month period, she can be considered independent under the self-supporting criteria.

Parental income threshold

A young person is only eligible to qualify as independent under the 'concessional workforce independence criteria for regional students' if their combined parental income is under the parental income threshold.

The parental income threshold is $160,000 plus $10,000 for each 'additional child'. This means the threshold is:

  • $170,000 for families with 2 children,
  • $180,000 for families with 3 children,
  • $190,000 for families with 4 children, and so on.

For the purpose of calculating the parental income threshold any person aged under 22 with a 'parent' in common with the YA claimant/recipient is counted as an additional child, unless they are:

  • in state care,
  • receiving YA or DSP as independent where it is unreasonable for them to live at home (UTLAH) (3.2.5.30),
  • living away from the family home and are a member of a YA Couple (1.1.M.130),
  • living away from the family home and have their own child (a natural child, adoptive child or relationship child who is wholly or substantially dependent on them or their partner).

All other children in the family aged under 22 are counted. This is regardless of whether the child is employed, unemployed, studying, or whether they live at home, away from home or are overseas.

Example: Ludwig has 2 brothers, Joseph and Karl, and one sister Brideen all aged under 22. They all have the same parents. Joseph aged 21 is overseas backpacking. Karl aged 15 lives at home. Brideen aged 18 is married but still lives at home with her own newborn baby. For the purpose of calculating the parental income threshold Joseph, Karl and Brideen are all considered to be children in the family, therefore the parental income threshold is:

  • $190,000
  • Made up of: $160,000 + $10,000 (Joseph) + $10,000 (Karl) + $10,000 (Brideen)

Example: Olivia has 2 brothers, Mike and Steve, and one sister Karissa all aged under 22. They all have the same parents. Mike aged 21 is married and lives away from home. Steve aged 15 is in state care. Karissa aged 18 lives away from home and is studying. For the purpose of calculating the parental income threshold only Karissa is counted as a child in the family, but Mike and Steve are not counted as children in the family as Mike is living away from the family home and is married (and therefore is a member of a YA couple) and Steve is in state care. Therefore the parental income threshold is:

  • $170,000
  • Made up of: $160,000 + $10,000 (Karissa)

For the purpose of determining who is an additional child both the child and the YA claimant/recipient must have a parent in common. That parent must be a parent whose income would be assessed for the parental income test. For a definition of whose income is assessed under the parental income test see 4.2.8.10 under the heading 'Determining whose income to include in the parental income test'.

Act reference: SSAct section 5(1)-'parent'

Determining the year in which parental income is assessed

The year in which parental income is assessed for the purpose of the threshold is either:

  • the tax year that ended immediately before the 14-month (or 2-year) self-supporting period began, OR
  • the appropriate tax year (1.1.A.170).

The tax year to be used is that which will be most beneficial to the YA applicant, taking into account any changes in their parental income and family size. The rules regarding the appropriate tax year are set out at 4.2.8.10 under the heading 'Income assessed under the parental income test'.

The census date for counting how many children there are in the family is usually 30 June of the tax year being used for parental income assessment.

Example: Murphy completed school on 30 November 2017 and worked during his gap year in 2018. He completes his 14-month self-supporting period on 31 January 2019. The tax year that ended immediately before his 14-month self-supporting period began is the 2016-17 tax year which ended on 30 June 2017. The census date for counting children in the family is 30 June 2017 (for the purpose of calculating the parental income threshold for the 2016-17 tax year).

However in particular circumstances, a young person's date of application for independence may be used as the census date. When this is done the year for assessing parental income is the tax year following the base tax year. Using the young person's date of application as the census date is only done when this is more beneficial for the young person.

Example: Sharon completed school on 30 November 2017 and worked during her gap year in 2018. She completes her 14-month self-supporting period on 31 January 2019. The tax year that ended immediately before her 14-month self-supporting period began is the 2016-17 tax year which ended on 30 June 2017. The census date for counting children in her family is 30 June 2017. Sharon commences university on 14 February 2019, and applies for YA as independent from that date.

On 30 June 2017 Sharon was the only child in her family. In the 2016-17 tax year Sharon's combined parental income was $165,000 which is over the $160,000 threshold for a single child family.

However in October 2018 Sharon's mother gave birth to a baby. Sharon asks Centrelink to use the date of her application as the census date for counting children, so that the new baby is counted.

Therefore the parental income threshold is:

  • $170,000
  • Made up of: $160,000 + $10,000 (new baby)

Because the date of application is used as the census date, the year for assessing parental income is the tax year following the base tax year, which is the 2018-19 financial year.

Act reference: SSAct section 1067A(10E)(d) ...in relation to paragraph (10)(b)…, section 1067A(10E)(e) ...in relation to paragraph (10)(d)…

Change of parents during or prior to the self-supporting period

In some circumstances the people who are considered to be the parents of a YA applicant may have changed during or prior to the self-supporting period, or between the self-supporting period and the date of application. When assessing combined parental income for the purpose of the parental income threshold, the person/s who are considered to be the parents of the YA applicant are determined with reference to the census date. That is: the people whose income is assessed are the people who were the young person's parents on the census date that is being used. This may be different for each of the relevant tax years if the parents have changed.

Tax year used Census date
The last tax year that ended immediately before the 14-month (or 2-year) self supporting period began 30 June of that tax year
Base tax year 30 June of the base tax year
Year after base tax year (when used because it is more beneficial to the YA applicant) Date of application for YA independence
Year after base tax year (when used because the parental income has increased) 30 June of the tax year after the base tax year

Example: Theresa completed school on 30 November 2017 and worked during her gap year in 2018. She completes her 14-month self-supporting period on 31 January 2019. The tax year that ended immediately before her 14-month self-supporting period began is the 2016-17 tax year which ended on 30 June 2017. The census date for counting children in her family is 30 June 2017. Theresa commences university on 14 February 2019, and applies for YA as independent from that date.

Theresa's parents are separated. Theresa lived with her father while completing school in 2017 and then moved to live with her mother during her gap year in 2018.

The tax year before Theresa's self supporting period is the 2016-17 tax year. On the census date for this tax year (30 June 2017) Theresa was living with her father and was the only child. Theresa's father's income is therefore the parental income to be assessed for the 2016-17 tax year. The father's income was $165,000 which is over the $160,000 threshold for a single child family.

Because Theresa applies for YA on 14 February 2019, the base tax year is 2017-18. On the census date for the base tax year (30 June 2018) Theresa was living with her mother and was the only child. Theresa's mother's income is therefore the parental income to be assessed for the 2017-18 tax year. The mother's income was $145,000 which is under the $160,000 threshold for a single child family.

Because it is beneficial to her application, Theresa's parental income can be assessed using the base tax year. Using this means Theresa will have parental income under the threshold.

Act reference: SSAct section 1067A(10) to (10L) People who are self-supporting

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.N.12 National Training Wage schedule rate (YA, DSP)

Paid employment

The following activities may be considered paid employment for the purposes of assessing the self-supporting criterion for independence for YA and DSP:

  • periods of paid leave,
  • periods of unpaid leave due to employer shutdown that are outside the control of the young person (e.g. mandatory Christmas shutdown),
  • periods engaged in a full-time apprenticeship or traineeship,
  • periods of overseas employment,
  • periods of receiving workers compensation while the person is able to demonstrate that they are still connected to their employment.

Act reference: SSAct section 1067A(10) People who are self-supporting

Last reviewed: 2 January 2019