18.104.22.168 ParentsNext summary & participation requirements (PP)
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
- exemptions from participation requirements
- reasonable excuse, and
- exiting ParentsNext.
Background & objectives
ParentsNext operates nationally, across all non-remote employment regions to help parents of young children 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 under 6 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, one 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, one 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.
DHS 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 one 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 (ongoing 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) programme
- Adult Migrant English Program
- work preparation activities
- jobactive, NEIS, Regional Employment Trials Program, Vocational Training and Education Centres or 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
Exemptions (for compulsory participants)
Participation exemptions are available to compulsory participants experiencing circumstances that make it unreasonable for them to meet their participation requirements. Participants with an exemption are not required to meet their requirements during the exemption period. Both DHS and ParentsNext providers are able to grant exemptions.
DHS is able to grant exemptions for the following reasons:
- major personal crisis (which for ParentsNext also includes incapacity due to serious illness, pregnancy-related issues, or other temporary medical incapacity under the same criteria as that exemption type for participants in other employment services (see 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199))
- major personal disruption to a participant's home
- domestic violence, and
- temporary confinement due to pregnancy/birth of a child (this exemption is granted 6 weeks prior to and 6 months after the expected due date of a child's birth).
ParentsNext providers are able to grant exemptions for the following reasons:
- major personal crisis
- major personal disruption to a participant's home
- personal circumstances including, bereavement, community service order, domestic violence or relationship breakdown, declared natural disaster, jury duty and approved overseas absence
- temporary confinement due to pregnancy/birth of a child
- temporary medical incapacity*
- temporary incapacity due to serious illness
- caring responsibilities
- if the participant is an active and registered foster carer
- if the participant is providing home schooling for one or more of the children or secondary pupil children for whom they are the principal carer or main supporter
- if the participant is providing or suitably assisting and supervising distance education for one or more of the children for whom they are the principal carer, or secondary pupil children for whom they are the main supporter
- if the participant is caring for a large family (i.e. is the principal carer or main supporter parent of 4 or more children aged 18 or under)
- if the participant is a relative but not a parent of a child and the child is living with the PP recipient in accordance with a family law order
- if the participant is a relative but not a parent of a child and the child is living with the PP recipient in accordance with a document prepared or accepted by a state or territory authority that has responsibility for the wellbeing of children, or
- other special family circumstances.
* A participant may be granted a temporary medical incapacity exemption where they are have an illness, injury or other temporary medical condition preventing them from working or undertaking another appropriate activity for 8 or more hours per week. An exemption can be granted if the participant provides a medical certificate stating the:
- medical practitioner's diagnosis
- medical practitioner's prognosis
- participant is incapacitated for work, and
- period for which the participant is incapacitated.
Exemptions do not apply to circumstances wholly or predominately attributable to a participant's misuse of alcohol or drugs.
Parents with an exemption are not required to sign a participation plan, attend appointments with a ParentsNext provider or undertake compulsory activities.
Parents with an exemption may elect to receive services from their provider on a voluntary basis.
Note: Some exemptions MUST be applied, while others MAY be applied, if the compulsory participant meets the conditions for the particular exemption.
Act reference: SSAct Part 2.10 Division 3A Participation exemptions, section 501A PP Employment Pathway Plan-terms
Policy reference: SS Guide 188.8.131.52 Mutual Obligation Requirements Exemption - Temporary Incapacity (PP), 184.108.40.206 Mutual obligation requirements exemption - pregnancy (PP), 220.127.116.11 Mutual Obligation Requirements Exemption - Special Circumstances (PP), 18.104.22.1680 Mutual obligation requirements exemption in special family circumstances - automatic (PP), 22.214.171.1240 Mutual Obligation Requirements Exemption in Special Family Circumstances - Case-by-Case (PP)
Compliance (for compulsory participants)
A compulsory participant's payment may be affected if they fail to:
- attend ParentsNext provider appointments as notified by the ParentsNext provider
- sign a participation plan, or
- undertake the compulsory activity agreed in their participation plan.
If a parent fails to undertake any of these requirements without a valid reason, they will be subject to action under the targeted compliance framework (see 3.1.14). This will involve either a suspension, reduction or cancellation of their income support payment, depending on which zone (green, warning, penalty) they are in under the targeted compliance framework.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act Part 3 Division 3AA Compliance with participation payment obligations …
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.