The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.R.20 Reference period


For PLP purposes a person is determined to be a primary carer of a child on a day by looking at care arrangements during the person's 'reference period'. The person is the primary carer of a child if the child is in the person's care in that period and the person meets the child's physical needs more than anyone else in that period.

A person's 'reference period' for the purposes for determining whether they are the primary carer of a child can be one or more days. It could span the person's PPL period (, or for a claim for PLP on a flexible PPL day, the reference period can last for just one day.

Example: The reference period for a PLP primary claimant who is a birth mother, is from the date of birth to the end of their PPL period, and any flexible PPL days that are claimed.

Centrelink can determine a reference period that lasts for a number of flexible PPL days (1.1.F.70). For example, this might occur if the person had a continuous PPL period (1.1.C.147). In that case, Centrelink could determine that the person's reference period for the purpose of determining whether a claimant had primary care was the whole of the continuous flexible period. In that case, the question of whether the person had primary care for the child on a particular day would be answered by looking at the reference period, not the day in isolation.

Example: Eliza claims a 12-week PPL period plus a 6 week continuous flexible period. On a day during that continuous flexible period, Eliza's mum is sick, so Eliza arranges to leave her child with her husband for that day so that she can care for her mum. Because Centrelink defined Eliza's reference period to span a number of flexible PPL days, the fact Eliza does not meet the child's physical needs on one particular day during her continuous flexible period does not disqualify her from being eligible on that day.

For DAPP purposes, a DAPP claimant is determined to be caring for a child by looking at care arrangements during the claimant's 'reference period'. The claimant is caring for the child if the child is in the DAPP claimant's care in that period.

The reference period is the period that is determined by Centrelink for the purposes of making a payability determination on the person's PLP or DAPP claim.

The reference period for a DAPP claimant is the DAPP period.

Act reference: PPLAct section 6 The Dictionary, section 47 When a person is the primary carer of a child, section 115CL(2) A DAPP claimant's reference period is …

Policy reference: PPL Guide 2.2.5 Who is a primary carer for PLP?, PPL period, 1.1.C.147 Continuous PPL period, 1.1.F.70 Flexible PPL day

Last reviewed: