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.

3.11.11 ParentsNext


This topic provides an overview of ParentsNext (1.1.P.57) including:

  • background and objectives
  • eligibility criteria
  • appointments
  • mutual obligation requirements
  • suitable activities, and
  • exiting ParentsNext.

Background & objectives

ParentsNext operates nationally, across all non-remote employment regions to help parents and carers of young children receiving PP to plan and prepare for employment before their youngest child starts school.

The 3 main 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.

Participants are connected to a wide range of services, which can include pre-employment training, mentoring, work experience and job opportunities.

Eligibility criteria

Compulsory participants

It is compulsory for a person to participate in ParentsNext if they:

  • reside in a Workforce Australia Employment Region
  • have been in receipt of PP (partnered or single) continuously for the last 6 months
  • have a youngest child who is at least 9 months and under 6 years of age
  • have not reported any income or hours worked in employment in the previous 6 months
  • are under 55 years of age, and
    • are under 22 years of age and have not completed the final year of school (or equivalent level of education)
    • are 22 years of age or older and have not completed the final year of school (or equivalent level of education), and have been receiving income support continuously for more than 2 years, or
    • have completed their final year of school and have been receiving income support continuously for more than 4 years.

Services Australia assesses whether a parent meets the criteria for a compulsory participant.

Voluntary participants

To volunteer for ParentsNext a parent must:

  • be in receipt of PP
  • have a youngest child aged under 6 years old
  • reside in a Workforce Australia Employment Region, and
  • not be participating in another employment program.

Voluntary participants are not required to meet mutual obligation requirements. Accordingly, voluntary participants are not subject to the targeted compliance framework under the SSAct.

ParentsNext provider appointments

Both voluntary and compulsory participants are required to attend regular appointments with their ParentsNext provider. Participants are required to have an initial 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 participant'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 participant 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 participants to review their goals and update their participation plan, taking into account any change in circumstances. For compulsory participants, providers must confirm they 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. Mutual obligation requirements and the targeted compliance framework under the SSAct are outlined below.

Mutual obligation requirements (compulsory participants only)

Compulsory participants have mutual obligation 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 participant's individual circumstances and capacity to comply with agreed activities; they cannot include unsuitable or unreasonable requirements. Participants 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 at 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: SS(Admin)Act section 40A Requirement to enter into employment pathway plans, section 40F Employment pathway plan matters

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 only 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 participant and their ParentsNext provider.

ParentsNext providers must work closely with each participant 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 but are not limited to:

  • 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 but are not limited to:

  • 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
  • Workforce Australia - Self-Employment Assistance as part of the NEIS
  • Vocational Training and Education Centres (VTECs), and
  • Workforce Australia - 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 participant is expected to attend for 3 hours twice a week until the course is completed.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 40F Employment pathway plan matters, section 40G Employment pathway plans-examples of requirements

Exiting ParentsNext

Compulsory participants

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
  • they turn 55 years of age
  • their PP is cancelled, or
  • they relocate outside the Workforce Australia Employment Regions.

Voluntary participants

Voluntary participants can remain in ParentsNext until:

  • they commence in Workforce Australia, Transition to Work, DES or Self-Employment Assistance
  • their youngest PP child turns 6 years of age
  • their PP is cancelled, or
  • they relocate outside the Workforce Australia Employment Regions.

Last reviewed: