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

Services Australia will refer a person to 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 is eligible to participate.

A parent can approach a ParentsNext provider or Services Australia directly and choose to participate if they are :

  • 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.

Parents that choose to participate are not required to meet mutual obligation requirements. Accordingly, participants will not face compliance action under the targeted compliance framework.

ParentsNext provider appointments

Participants are encouraged 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. An EPP is a participation plan for ParentsNext participants for the purposes of the SS Act and SS(Admin) Act. 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
  • explain that they will not face compliance action if they do not attend appointments or activities.

At subsequent quarterly contacts, ParentsNext providers assist participants to review their goals and update their participation plan, taking into account any change in circumstances. Providers will discuss engagement in their activity and check whether a new activity is needed.

If an eligible participant fails to attend an appointment, no compliance action will be taken.

Mutual obligation requirements

From 5 May 2023, participants can choose whether to participate in ParentsNext. This means that participants will not face payment suspensions or financial penalties for not meeting participation requirements.

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

The participation plan should assist participants to work towards their employment or education goal/s.

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

Suitable activities to address non-vocational barriers may include but are not limited to:

  • accessing housing support services
  • mental health and wellbeing services
  • attendance at medical or health appointments or activities
  • transport and licence assistance

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 participants must meet Participants are encouraged to engage in the course/activity they agree to in their participation plan. Participants do not have to report their attendance at activities to a provider or Services Australia.

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

Exiting ParentsNext

Eligible 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.

Or, a Provider can exit eligible ParentsNext participants when:

  • they commence in Workforce Australia, Transition to Work, DES or Self-Employment Assistance
  • do not attend 2 consecutive appointments.

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