Assistance from the Australian Government

Tertiary Education

Commonwealth Supported Places

The government supports domestic students undertaking higher education by funding Commonwealth Supported Places (previously called ‘HECS’ places). These places are subsidised by the government so that students only have to pay ‘student contribution’ amounts for their units of study. Although Commonwealth Supported Places are mainly offered at undergraduate level at public universities, they are also available in some fields at postgraduate level and at some private higher education providers.

Students who do not have access to a Commonwealth Supported Place will generally be required to pay full fees, which are set by the relevant provider. While fee-paying places are not subsidised, the government offers the FEE-HELP or VET FEE-HELP loan schemes to assist eligible fee-paying students to pay their tuition fees. Fee-paying places are mainly offered at private education providers and at postgraduate level at universities.

Higher Education Loan Program

The HELP scheme offers a suite of loans for different types of study. The scheme provides income-contingent loans to eligible higher education and vocational education students to assist with tuition costs.

HELP loans are not available to pay for items like equipment, textbooks or other items specified in the 'Additional costs' section.

HECS-HELP assists eligible higher education students enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place to pay their student contribution amounts. Under HECS-HELP, eligible students can use a loan or receive a discount for up-front student contribution payments of $500 or more. There is no limit on the amount of HECS-HELP an eligible person can use.

OS-HELP assists eligible students enrolled in a Commonwealth Supported Place to undertake some of their undergraduate studies overseas. Eligible students are only entitled to two OS-HELP loans over their lifetime.

FEE-HELP is available to assist eligible higher education students enrolled in a fee-paying place at an approved FEE-HELP provider to pay their tuition fees. There is a limit on the amount of FEE-HELP a person can use over their lifetime. This is known as the FEE-HELP limit, and is the same limit that applies to VET FEE-HELP.

VET FEE-HELP assists eligible students undertaking certain Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications at diploma and advanced diploma level, at an approved VET FEE-HELP provider, to pay for their tuition fees. Students in some subsided places in Victoria and South Australia are also able to access VET FEE-HELP. Providers in other states and territories will be able to start offering VET FEE-HELP for subsidised courses during 2013 and 2014. The Commonwealth is also working with jurisdictions to implement a trial of the extension of VET FEE-HELP to certain nominated certificate IV qualifications, which commenced in South Australia and Victoria in 2013.

Some universities and higher education providers also charge a student services and amenities fee to higher education students. SA-HELP is available to assist eligible students to pay this fee.

More information regarding Commonwealth Supported Places, eligibility criteria for HELP loans and a list of approved FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP providers is available from the Study Assist website at http://studyassist.gov.au or by calling the Department of Industry student enquiry line on 1800 020 108.

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Australian Government Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services is responsible for the development of service delivery policy and provides access to social, health and other payments and services. It was created on 26 October 2004 as part of the Finance and Administration portfolio. The Human Services Legislation Amendment Act 2011 integrated the services of Medicare Australia, Centrelink and CRS Australia on 1 July 2011 into the Department of Human Services.

The Department of Human Services delivers a wide range of services to the Australian community to assist people to work towards becoming self-sufficient through study and training, while supporting those in need. The Department of Human Services refers eligible customers to employment service providers (who can assist with apprenticeships and training courses), Department of Human Services specialist officers and other departments and agencies as appropriate.

Young people, in particular, should consider longer-term prospects in terms of career goals and continuing with full-time study, with either a vocational or tertiary institution, to achieve these goals.

The following information is a general guide to the options and payments available through the Department of Human Services if you are planning to continue your study or training.

For more information, visit your local Department of Human Services Service Centre, phone 13 24 90 or visit the website at www.humanservices.gov.au. To speak to the Department of Human Services in your language, phone 13 12 02. You can find the locations of Department of Human Services Service Centres in the Useful addresses section.

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Financial assistance

Youth Allowance

Youth Allowance provides financial help for young people who are studying full time, undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship, training, looking for work or who are sick.

You may be able to get Youth Allowance if you are:

  • 18 to 24 years old and studying full time
  • 16 to 24 years old and undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship
  • 16 to 21 years old and looking for full-time work or undertaking approved activities.

If you do not have a Year 12 Certificate or equivalent qualification (certificate II or above), you will have to undertake study or training in order to qualify for Youth Allowance.

Residency requirements and parental means tests also apply.

You may be eligible for Youth Allowance if you are 16 to 17 years old and undertaking full-time secondary study if:

  • you need to live away from home in order to study; or
  • you are considered independent for Youth Allowance.

For more information about Youth Allowance, visit www.humanservices.gov.au, call 13 24 90 or visit your local Centrelink service centre.

ABSTUDY

ABSTUDY helps Indigenous secondary or tertiary students remain at school, go on to further study or undertake an Australian Apprenticeship. For more information about ABSTUDY, you can visit your local Centrelink Service Centre, call 1800 132 317 or visit www.humanservices.gov.au

Austudy

Austudy provides financial help for full-time students and Australian Apprentices. You may be eligible for Austudy if you are aged 25 or over.

You must be:

  • studying full time in an approved course at an approved educational institution; or
  • undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship or traineeship.

Applying for Youth Allowance and Austudy

You need to lodge your claim for Youth Allowance or Austudy online. You should submit your claim 13 weeks before you start studying to ensure you are paid from the earliest possible date. If you lodge your claim later, you may have to wait longer for your payment to start. You can apply for a payment before you have course confirmation — just include your intended course details. Don’t worry if these change, as you can update them later.

To make a claim, visit www.humanservices.gov.au, go to Centrelink Online Services and register or log on. You can use the self-service facilities at a Centrelink service centre if you do not have access to the internet.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your life or have complex needs, you can call or visit your local Centrelink service centre for help.

Scholarships

All Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY students studying a higher education course or a preparatory course at a higher education institution (university, for example) are entitled to a Student Start-up Scholarship for each year of their course (two payments per year) to assist with the high up-front costs of textbooks and specialised equipment.

In addition, the Relocation Scholarship provides assistance with the cost of establishing accommodation for Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY students undertaking an approved scholarship course at a higher education institution who are:

  • dependants living away from the family home for study; or
  • independent students who are disadvantaged by personal and relationship circumstances and are unable to live in the family home.

Remote, rural and regional students receive a higher Relocation Scholarship payment rate for the second and third year they are required to live away from home to study.

The Relocation Scholarship is indexed annually.

Students who decide to take out a Student Start-up Loan will be required to repay the loan through the taxation system. The loan is repaid when your income reaches the amount where the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debts become payable. For more information, visit www.humanservices.gov.au.

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Recent changes to Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY

On 1 July 2012, the personal income test threshold increased from $236 to $400 ($405 in 2013) a fortnight for full-time students and apprentices to enable them to earn more before their benefit payments are reduced. The maximum amount that a student can accumulate in their income bank also increased — from $6000 to $10,000 ($10,100 in 2013). Australian Apprentices can accumulate up to $1000 in their income bank.

A Student Assistance Estimator is also available on the Department of Human Services website, which allows students to enter their parents’ income level and family type to gain an indication of the level of support they might expect to receive under the government’s changes to student income support.

Assistance for Isolated Children

The Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Scheme provides financial assistance to families of primary, secondary and certain tertiary students who do not have reasonable daily access to an appropriate government school due to geographical isolation or because they have a special health need or disability. For more information, visit your local Centrelink service centre, see www.humanservices.gov.au or call 13 23 18. To speak to a Department of Human Services representative in your language, call 13 12 02.

Pensioner Education Supplement

The Pensioner Education Supplement (PES) helps with the costs of undertaking full-time or part-time study. It is available to the recipients of some Department of Human Services and Veterans’ Affairs income support payments.

For more information about PES, visit www.humanservices.gov.au or call 13 24 68.

Veterans' Children Education Scheme

The Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES) provides assistance to children of certain deceased, disabled or incapacitated veterans or members of the defence or peacekeeping forces.

For further information, visit the website at www.dva.gov.au or call your state or territory office of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Transition to Independent Living Allowance

The Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) provides one-off financial assistance to young people (aged 15–25) who are leaving state-supported care to help them make the transition to independent living.

For more information, visit www.tila.org.au.

Australian Apprentices

The Australian Government has implemented a range of initiatives that provide assistance to Australian Apprentices in the form of income support or financial incentives. Refer to the Australian Apprenticeships website at www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au for more information.

Australian Apprenticeships Access Program

The Australian Apprenticeships Access Programme (Access Programme) supports vulnerable jobseekers who experience barriers to skilled employment to find and keep an Australian Apprenticeship. The programme provides eligible jobseekers with targeted and individualised pre-vocational training linked to an Australian Apprenticeship pathway, intensive job search assistance and post-placement support to help the participant and employer settle into the employment relationship. The Access Programme also supports participants to enter employment or further education or training.

For more information about the Access Programme, visit your local Centrelink service centre or Employment Services Provider, or phone 13 38 73. More information about the program is also available here.

Support for Australian Apprentices with disability

The Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme provides assistance for apprentices and trainees with disability, including a wage support payment for the employer and assistance for tutoring, interpreting and mentoring services to assist the apprentice.

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Education and training assistance

School Business Community Partnership Brokers

School Business Community Partnership Brokers (Partnership Brokers) work to build partnerships between education and training providers, business and industry, parents and families, and community groups to support young people to be engaged in education, perform better in school and realise their full potential.

Partnership Brokers develop links to provide learning opportunities outside the classroom and mentoring opportunities for young people. They also provide information for parents to become better informed about learning and career options, and give young people the chance to improve their employability and life skills.

For more information about Partnership Brokers, visit http://transitions.youth.gov.au.

Youth Connections

Youth Connections is a programme that helps young people stay in school, return to school or find alternate pathways that lead to attaining Year 12 or an equivalent certificate II qualification.

The Youth Connections programme is flexible and individualised for each young person. Youth Connections focuses on improving life skills as well as educational and personal development outcomes for young people facing significant difficulties.

For more information about Youth Connections, visit your local Centrelink service centre, visit http://transitions.youth.gov.au or speak with your school career adviser, welfare officer or teacher.

Skills for Education and Employment (SEE)

The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) programme assists jobseekers whose basic English, reading, writing or mathematics skills are making it difficult for them to get a job or undertake further training. The programme helps to build the confidence and skills needed to get work or undertake further training.

For more information, visit your local Centrelink service centre or Employment Services Provider, phone 13 38 73 or visit www.industry.gov.au/see.

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Employment assistance

Job Services Australia (JSA) is the Australian Government’s national employment services system. JSA providers are organisations contracted by the government to provide employment services and are available across Australia in more than 1700 locations. They can provide or connect you to a wide range of government initiatives to give you the right skills and training you need to find and keep a job.

Connections for Quality is available on the Australian JobSearch website to assist you to make an informed choice when selecting your JSA provider. You will be able to access information about the range and diversity of individualised services offered by the JSA providers in your area. For more information, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au/connectionsforquality.aspx.

JSA will provide you with one-on-one assistance and tailored employment services.

Your JSA provider will work with you every step of the way by getting to know you and your individual circumstances. A consultant will offer assistance that will help you find and keep a job.

This assistance could include a range of services such as:

  • help with writing a résumé
  • provision of information about local employment opportunities
  • tailored Employment Pathway Plans to suit your circumstances
  • work experience opportunities
  • access to new skills or qualifications
  • help to overcome other barriers to employment.

If you are claiming Youth Allowance, are under 22 years of age and have not completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification (certificate II or above), you must have full-time education or training, or a combination of study, training and other approved activities in your Employment Pathway Plan.

Your JSA provider will work with local employers, Registered Training Organisations; state, territory and local governments; community and health services; and other organisations. They will know where the jobs are and what to do to help you get one. You may have access to training, skills development and other flexible assistance when you require it. This includes gaining work experience and access to other initiatives.

Work experience activities can be part time, casual or full time and either paid or unpaid. Work experience will help you to gain new skills or further develop relevant workplace skills. It will also give you an opportunity to demonstrate your skills to potential employers, meet new work contacts and stay connected to the workforce. Taking part in work experience activities also provides opportunities for on-the-job and formal training that will increase your chances of getting and keeping a job.

Work experience activities can include:

  • Work for the Dole and other voluntary work
  • Green Corps environmental activities
  • work in a social enterprise
  • Drought Force
  • Defence Force Reserves
  • other employment and training programmes.

Other initiatives can also help you to overcome barriers to getting a job. You may be eligible for one of the following programmes:

  • Australian Apprenticeships Access Programme — a free, nationally recognised industry training programme that gives you basic skills to help you secure an Australian Apprenticeship.
  • Skills for Education and Employment (SEE Programme) — free training to improve your reading, writing or maths skills.
  • New Enterprise Incentive Scheme — training, mentoring and support to help you start a small business.

Your JSA provider can offer you specialised services if you are assessed as being highly disadvantaged. Depending on the type of disadvantage you face, you can access specific services to help you find a job. Higher levels of funding and more assistance are available to help you if you are highly disadvantaged.

If you are homeless, a person with disability, an at-risk young person or experience mental health issues, your JSA provider will help you to get the support and assistance suited to your circumstances. This could include mental health support services, counselling, rehabilitation services, financial counselling or anger management programmes.

All JSA providers can deliver specific services to meet your needs if you are a highly disadvantaged jobseeker. You may also be given the choice of attending a specialist JSA provider, which operate in many locations across Australia (a youth or disability specialist, for example).

You can contact Centrelink to determine your eligibility for Job Services Australia assistance by calling 13 28 50. Alternatively, you can visit your local Centrelink service centre, which can be found at http://humanservices.findnearest.com.au.

For more information about JSA, phone 13 62 68 or visit www.employment.gov.au/news/job-services-australia-support-job-seekers-and-employers. To find a JSA provider in your local area, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au.

Remote Jobs and Communities Program

From 1 July 2013, the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme (RJCP) began providing jobseekers living in remote areas of Australia with greater opportunities to gain local employment and skills that match local jobs.

Under RJCP, jobseekers living in remote areas of Australia are assisted by a single provider with a permanent presence in their region. Jobseekers receive personalised support to help them gain the skills needed to get and keep a job, and are also able to participate in activities that contribute to developing strong and sustainable communities.

New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) is also available to jobseekers who wish to establish a new small business. NEIS provides accredited small business training, business advice and mentoring, as well as ongoing income support for up to 52 weeks. To check eligibility requirements, visit www.employment.gov.au/new-enterprise-incentive-scheme-neis.

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Wage Connect

Wage Connect is a wage subsidy for the long-term unemployed and can help you find and keep a job.

The Australian Government recognises that some people need extra support to find work. Wage Connect is available to eligible individuals who have received income support for at least the last two years and have had no, or minimal, employment in that time.

Wage Connect is paid directly to your new employer for the first six months, and may be paid for a longer period in some circumstances. Your employer will receive around $6050 to help offset the initial costs of wages and training. For more information, and to find out if Wage Connect is right for you, speak to your employment services provider.

To find a local employment services provider, phone 13 17 64, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au/provider or visit your local Centrelink service centre.

Move 2 Work

Move 2 Work is a labour mobility and relocation assistance initiative that provides practical and financial assistance to eligible jobseekers looking to relocate for ongoing work or an apprenticeship outside of their local area.

Move 2 Work provides a streamlined approach to labour mobility to meet the needs of jobseekers and employers. The initiative will close to new applicants on 30 June 2014.

Move 2 Work can be used for a range of relocation-related purposes, including removalist and travel costs and incidentals, accommodation assistance and some employment-related expenses.

For more information, visit www.employment.gov.au/move-2-work.

To find an employment services provider, phone 13 17 64, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au or visit your local Centrelink service centre.

Disability Employment Services

Disability Employment Services (DES) can help individuals with injury, disability or a health condition to secure and maintain sustainable employment. The services focus on the needs of jobseekers, with an increased emphasis on employment, skills development and education and training.

There are two separate programmes within DES. These include the Disability Management Service and Employment Support Service.

  • The Disability Management Service provides assistance to jobseekers with disability, an injury or health condition who may require flexible ongoing support but are not expected to need regular, long-term support in the workplace.
  • The Employment Support Service provides assistance to jobseekers with permanent disability who are assessed as needing regular, long-term ongoing support in the workplace to retain their job.

Disability Employment Services are delivered by a network of organisations — both large and small — around Australia. Disability Employment Services providers can work with you to develop an individual programme that focuses on your strengths and abilities, and the barriers you face in getting a job. Once you are placed in a job, your provider can also support you in the workplace if you need help to keep your job.

The ‘Connections for Quality’ page on the Australian JobSearch website contains useful information about DES providers in around the country. It includes the type of service that each provider offers, where the premises is located and how that provider will work with you. It can assist people with disability to make informed choices about which DES provider will best suit their needs. Participants can see how providers have helped other participants and the relationships the provider has in the community to assist with their individual needs and their pathway into employment.

For more information about how Disability Employment Services can help you, phone a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800 or visit http://jobaccess.gov.au. To locate local Disability Employment Services providers, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au/connectionsforquality.aspx.

If you have a disability or mental health condition and are already in employment, you may also be eligible to access a range of services, including the Job in Jeopardy Assistance service and other assistance available through the JobAccess service. For more information, phone a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800 or visit http://jobaccess.gov.au.

Assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobseekers

The Department of Human Services, including specialist Indigenous Customer Service Officers, provides Indigenous jobseekers with advice and assistance about employment, including access to Job Services Australia and ABSTUDY.

Specialist Indigenous Job Services Australia members are available in some locations. The Department of Human Services can tell you if there is one in your area. For more information, visit www.humanservices.gov.au.

Indigenous Wage Subsidy

If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person and registered as a jobseeker with the Department of Human Services or a Job Services Australia provider, you may be eligible to attract the Indigenous Wage Subsidy when an employer offers you employment.

For more information, visit www.employment.gov.au/indigenous-wage-subsidy-iws or phone the Indigenous Employment Line on 1802 102 (Toll Free).

As of 1 July 2013, the Indigenous Wage Subsidy is no longer available to jobseekers in regions where the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme (RJCP) operates. However, RJCP providers have a range of measures available similar to the Indigenous Wage Subsidy, such as the Employment Pathway Fund and Wage Connect.

For further information about assistance available through the RJCP and RJCP providers, visit www.employment.gov.au/remote-jobs-and-communities-program.

Indigenous Cadetship Support (ICS)

Indigenous Cadetship Support links Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary students with employers in a cadetship arrangement involving full-time study and work placements. It assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students by providing funds to cover living costs while studying, as well as paid work experience during holiday and semester breaks throughout the year.

The Indigenous Cadetship Support Programme is not asset or means tested, and is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying for their first undergraduate degree.

For more information, visit www.employment.gov.au/indigenous-cadetship-support-ics or phone the Indigenous Employment Line on 1802 102 (Toll Free).

Indigenous Mentoring Pilot

The Indigenous Mentoring Pilot (the Pilot), which is to operate from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2015, provides one-on-one intensive culturally appropriate pre-placement and post-placement (up to 26 weeks) mentoring support to voluntarily participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobseekers in 20 Employment Service Areas. Priority is given to jobseekers in JSA Service Streams 3 and 4.

For more information, visit www.employment.gov.au/access-mentoring-support-indigenous-job-seekers.

Job Search

For further information about employers seeking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobseekers, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au, click on ‘Advanced search’ under ‘Additional search criteria’ and tick ‘Indigenous jobs only’.

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Assistance for jobseekers with family responsibilities

Child Care Benefit

The Child Care Benefit assists families with the cost of child care. You can claim the Child Care Benefit for approved child care, registered child care or a combination of both.

If you claim and are eligible for the Child Care Benefit for approved child care (even at a zero rate), you may also be eligible for the Child Care Rebate. The rebate covers 50 per cent of your out-of-pocket expenses, up to a maximum amount per child per year.

For more information, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/childcare or phone 13 61 50. You can call 13 12 02 to speak to a Department of Human Services representative in your language.

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Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance

Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance provides extra help with the cost of approved child care for eligible parents while they are undertaking activities such as work, study, training or looking for a job as part of an Employment Pathway Plan.

For more information, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/jetccfa. You can call 13 12 02 to speak to a Department of Human Services representative in your language.

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Multicultural Assistance

Multicultural Service Officers

Multicultural Service Officers help the Department of Human Services connect with migrant and refugee communities. They help multicultural communities access Australian Government programmes and services by breaking down barriers and building relationships.

Multicultural Service Officers consult with communities about the impact of government initiatives on migrant and refugee communities in order to improve service delivery.

Around 70 Multicultural Service Officers operate across Australia from metropolitan, regional and rural service centres.

Languages other than English

The Department of Human Services provides free interpreters — including Australian Sign Language interpreters (AUSLAN) interpreters — and also has bilingual staff who can provide assistance in languages other than English.

Detailed information about services available through the Department of Human Services is available in more than 50 languages on the website at www.humanservices.gov.au. You can also phone the Department of Human Services Multilingual Phone Service on 13 12 02 to access multilingual information and services.

The Department of Human Services can provide free translations of some documents to assist you with claims for assistance. To speak to them in your language, call 13 12 02.

Other specialised assistance

The Department of Human Services has specialist officers to help customers with specific needs. These include Social Workers, Financial Information Service Officers, Senior Customer Service Advisers, Indigenous Specialist Officers, Multicultural Service Officers, Rural Service Officers and Community Contact Officers. To see if these officers can help you, visit a Centrelink service centre or call 13 10 21.

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