3.2.6.40 Away from home rate of YA & bypassing local schools

Cannot bypass local schools out of choice

To be approved for the away from home rate of YA and to bypass a local school, a student must demonstrate a need to live away from home for the purposes of their education and/or employment prospects.

If a school in a local area provides subject choices and appropriate educational standards for a student to obtain these academic outcomes, then approval for the away from home rate should not be granted. It should be presumed that a local government school does provide the appropriate educational standards.

A range of factors may influence a student's choice of school (e.g. family connections, social/ethnic composition, quality or standard of education provided, range of subjects offered and delivery methods, availability of a scholarship, etc.). However, a student's mere preference, by itself, to bypass a local school is NOT sufficient to demonstrate a need to live away from home for the purposes of the person's education and/or employment prospects. The Act does not specify that the goal is to help the student attain their preferred employment opportunity or to maximise their individual potential but to be successful in finding employment.

Example: Where the local area provides reasonable access to an appropriate government school, but the student simply chooses or prefers to attend another school outside their local area, then the young person would NOT qualify for the away from home rate for the purposes of YA, as their personal choice by itself, does not demonstrate that they need to live away from home for the purposes of their education and/or employment prospects. An appropriate government school would be any that offers tuition in the student's grade or year. Local area is considered to be anywhere that can be reached without excessive travel time (1.1.E.150).

Act reference: SSAct section 1067D(1)(c)(i) When a person is taken to be required to live away from home

Policy reference: Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision Drum and Secretary, Department of Social Services (Social services second review) (2018) AATA 742

Factors demonstrating a need to live away from home for education and/or employment prospects

In deciding whether a student has demonstrated a need to bypass a local school, consideration should be given, but not limited, to the following factors:

  • the compelling nature of the student's circumstances and the degree of control/choice the student has over their circumstances
  • the availability, or otherwise, of suitable local school alternatives to meet the education and/or employment needs of the student, having regard to any special talents/career interests the student has
  • the extent to which attendance at a non-local school will positively impact on the student's education and/or employment prospects in a way not available at a local school.

Circumstances that may be considered to demonstrate a need to live away from home for education and/or employment prospects may include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • The student has special abilities/talents whose educational needs are not able to be met by the local school (see separate section below for more guidance).
  • The student has specific career interests and needs to attend a non-local school to study special subjects that will benefit their education and employment prospects, as the local school does not offer such subjects (see separate section below for more guidance).
  • The student has been excluded or suspended from the local government school and there is no other government school in the local area for the student to attend.
  • The student's parents have moved from one area to another resulting in the student not being able to study the same subjects for the purpose of completing required curriculum for their year 12 certificate and/or tertiary entrance requirements, and there is no other local school that offers the same subjects.
  • The student attends a non-local school because the syllabus and teaching arrangements are specifically geared to cater for the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and where the first language of most children attending the school is not English.
    • Example: A school with a syllabus incorporating bilingual classes.
  • The state/territory education authority agrees that the local school is inappropriate for a student or group of students, because it does not meet their educational needs.
    • Example: The school does not provide adequate facilities to permit students to gain a year 12 certificate and/or tertiary entrance score or the student is subject to extreme bullying.
  • The CEO or delegate of the state/territory education authority supports the bypassing by an individual student, and where the reasons are consistent with the aims of YA.

Students with special talents and/or special career interests

Where a student can demonstrate that they need to live away from home and bypass a local school as it will be beneficial for their educational and/or employment prospects, then they may be assessed as eligible for the away from home rate of YA. Consideration in such cases should be given to the special abilities of the student and whether their needs can be met by the local school. The student should provide, where possible, evidence that their educational and/or employment prospects will be better met by study at the non-local institution. This evidence may take the form of statements from school principals, teachers, or others acting in an official role with the school. In addition to the support statements from school principals, teachers, or others acting in an official role with the school, evidence is also required to indicate that the particular subject/s for which the student has a special career interest is/are undertaken as part the young person's year 12-certificate and/or tertiary entrance curriculum. The intent of this policy is to encourage the development of young people with special talents whose educational needs are not met by their local secondary institution.

Example 1: John is a secondary student studying year 12 and living in rural NSW. He has elected to study at a secondary school other than his local secondary school as the school is offering a tertiary agricultural studies component as part of its year 12 curriculum. John claims that studying at his chosen school will enhance his employability as he has a keen interest in employment in the agricultural field, is from a rural area and has a deep affinity with the land. Supporting documentation has been provided in the form of statements from John's school principal and teachers. John's preferred place of study is more than 90 minutes from his home address.

John would be seen as eligible to bypass his local secondary school and qualify for the away from home rate of YA as the curriculum available at the non-local school would enhance the student's employability.

Example 2: Zoe has a high intellect and is a very gifted dancer; she lives in Canberra. Her local secondary school provides for all her basic education needs however does not provide facilities or an educational focus for her major talent, dance. Zoe wishes to bypass her local secondary school in order to attend the Victorian School of Ballet to progress her recognised talent. Zoe's school principal, teachers and members of the arts community (who have connections with the school) have provided statements identifying that attendance at the non-local school will be beneficial in the development of Zoe's special talent.

Zoe would be eligible to bypass her secondary school as she has been able to demonstrate that it would be beneficial to her education and/or employment prospects. As she would have to move to another state to attend, she would qualify for the away from home rate of YA.

Last reviewed: 6 May 2019