Assistance from the Australian Government

Tertiary education

Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs)

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 (HELP)

The HELP scheme offers a suite of loans for different types of study. It 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 study 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. A trial to extend VET FEE-HELP to certain subsidised certificate IV qualifications commenced on 13 January 2014 and will continue until 31 December 2016. Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria are participating in the trial.

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.

For more information about Commonwealth Supported Places, eligibility criteria for HELP loans and a list of approved FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP providers, visit the Study Assist website or call the Department of Industry student enquiry line on 1800 020 108.

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Australian Apprenticeships

Trade Support Loans

The Australian Government will support Australian Apprentices in skill shortage areas to live, learn and complete an Australian Apprenticeship through concessional, income-contingent Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 per individual. Trade Support Loans will only have to be paid back once they are earning at or above the repayment threshold for HELP loans ($53,345 in 2014–15).

Payments will be made in monthly instalments in arrears and Australian Apprentices apply and may then opt in every six months for a further six instalments. Apprentices will have access to the greatest financial support in the early years when they need it the most, with access to $8000 in their first year, $6000 in the second, $4000 in the third and $2000 in the fourth year. Apprentices who successfully complete their training will receive a 20 per cent discount on the amount they borrowed.

For more information about Trade Support Loans, see www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/trade-support-loans.

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Australian Government Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services delivers a variety of payments and services for jobseekers and students on behalf of the Department of Social Services, the Department of Employment and the Department of Education.

These programmes are aimed at assisting people to work towards becoming self-sufficient through work, study and training. Young people, in particular, are encouraged to undertake full-time study (in either a vocational or tertiary institution) and set long-term career goals.

The department has specialist officers to assist eligible customers planning to continue their study or training, including referrals to employment service providers for assistance with apprenticeships and training programmes, or services offered by other departments and agencies where appropriate.

For more information about the range of government payments and services, visit www.humanservices.gov.au.

Want to get the most out of being online? Visit my.gov.au and create a myGov account. You can link your Centrelink, Medicare and other online services to your myGov account, letting you access a range of government services online, anytime.

Express Plus mobile apps also give you quick and easy access to your Centrelink and Medicare accounts on the go. Download the Express Plus mobile app from the App Store or Google Play today.

If after checking online and you still have a query, you can:

To speak to someone 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 or looking for work, or who are sick.

You may be eligible for Youth Allowance if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are 16 to 21 years old and looking for full-time work or undertaking approved activities.
  • You are 18 to 24 years old and studying full time.
  • You are 16 or 17 years old and have completed Year 12 or equivalent, are undertaking full-time secondary study and need to live away from home in order to study, or are considered independent for Youth Allowance.
  • You are 16 to 24 years old and undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship.

Youth Allowance is paid according to whether a young person is regarded as dependent or independent.

If you are considered dependent, you will be subject to the Parental Means Test, which incorporates the:

  • Parental Income Test
  • Family Assets Test
  • Family Actual Means Test (in certain circumstances).

Applying for Youth Allowance

You need to lodge your claim for Youth Allowance online. You can submit your claim up to 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 this changes, as you can update them later.

To make a claim, register or log in to your Centrelink online account. You can use the self-service facilities at a Centrelink Service Centre if you do not have access to the internet.

Visit www.humanservices.gov.au/students for a full range of payments to help you while studying or looking for work.

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ABSTUDY

ABSTUDY helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are enrolled in an approved course or undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship with costs such as education, accommodation, living, transport and prescription medicine.

For more information about ABSTUDY, see www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/abstudy, call 1800 13 23 17 or visit a Centrelink Service Centre.

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Student Start-Up Scholarship

All Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY Living Allowance 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.

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Relocation Scholarship

The Relocation Scholarship provides assistance with the cost of establishing accommodation for Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY Living Allowance 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.

The Relocation Scholarship is indexed annually.

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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 www.humanservices.gov.au/rural, call 13 23 18 or visit a Centrelink Service Centre. To speak to someone in your language, call 13 12 02.

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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.

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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.dss.gov.au.

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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.

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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/provider/connectionsforquality.

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 overcome barriers to getting a job. You may be eligible for one of the following programmes:

  • 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 greater 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, call 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.

The Department of Human Services has Indigenous Service Officers who can provide information about ABSTUDY and the role of Job Services Australia providers to Indigenous jobseekers.

Specialist Indigenous JSA members are available in some locations. The department can tell you if there is one in your area. For more information, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/indigenous.

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New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) is available to jobseekers who wish to establish a new small business. NEIS provides accredited small business training, business advice and mentoring for 12 months, as well as ongoing income support for up to 39 weeks. To check eligibility requirements, visit www.employment.gov.au/new-enterprise-incentive-scheme-neis.

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Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job

The Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job programme 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. The initiative commenced on 1 July 2014.

It 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/relocation-assistance-take-job.

To find an employment services provider, call 13 17 64, visit http://jobsearch.gov.au or visit your local Centrelink Service Centre.

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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 emphasis on employment, skills development and education and training.

There are two separate programmes within DES. They are 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. DES 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 around the country. It includes the type of service that each provider offers, where they are 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. The ‘Connections for Quality’ page includes information about 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, call 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.

JobAccess is a free telephone and online service to assist the employment of people with disability. The JobAccess website contains information about workplace solutions and assistance available to help people with disability find and maintain employment. JobAccess Advisers can provide confidential and expert advice to help people with disability overcome workplace barriers.

JobAccess administers the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF), which provides financial assistance to purchase a range of work-related modifications and services such as:

  • modifications to the physical work environment or work vehicles
  • adaptive equipment and communication devices
  • Auslan interpreting
  • specialist services for employees with specific learning disorders and mental health conditions
  • disability awareness, deafness awareness and mental health awareness training.

For more information about eligibility and application requirements for EAF, see http://jobaccess.gov.au or contact a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800.

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Assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobseekers

The Australian Government is committed to achieving better results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in three priority areas — getting children to school, helping adults find work, and building safe communities.

To make this happen, the government is transforming the way Indigenous programmes are delivered through the implementation of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy consolidates the many different Indigenous policies and programmes that were delivered by government into five overarching programmes, making it easier for organisations delivering local services. The new programme streams are:

  • Jobs, Land and Economy
  • Children and Schooling
  • Safety and Wellbeing
  • Culture and Capability
  • Remote Australia Strategies.

Through these programmes, the Australian Government will foster new engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, making funding more flexible and better designed to meet the aspirations and priorities of individual communities.

For more information about the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, see www.indigenous.gov.au/indigenous-advancement-strategy or call 1800 079 098 to speak to your local Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet office.

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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 are eligible for the Child Care Benefit for approved child care (even if your income is too high), 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.

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Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance

Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance helps with the cost of approved child care for eligible parents undertaking activities such as job search, work, study or training, or undertaking rehabilitation to enter or re-enter the workforce as part of an Employment Pathway Plan (also known as a Participation Plan or Individual Participation Plan). For more information, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/jetccfa.

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Multicultural Assistance

Interpreter and translation services

The Department of Human Services provides free interpreter services and translation of documents needed by customers to claim payments and services. The department also provides Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) interpreters.

Information is available in a range of languages, as well as in varying formats (written, audio or video format). See www.humanservices.gov.au/yourlanguage for more information.

Languages other than English

The department has bilingual staff who can provide assistance in languages other than English.

Detailed information about services available through the department is available in more than 60 languages on the website at www.humanservices.gov.au/yourlanguage.

The department also offers a national multilingual phone service for customers.

For more information about Medicare and Child Support services in your language call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 13 14 50.

For more information about Centrelink payments and services in your language, call the Multicultural phone service on 13 12 02.

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