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3.5.1.270 Participation Requirements Exemption in Special Family Circumstances - Automatic (PP)

Summary

This topic provides information on automatic exemptions for PP recipients with special family circumstances. It discusses assessment of this type of exemption from participation requirements.

 

For a broad overview of exemptions policy for special family circumstances see 3.5.1.260.

 

Automatic exemptions

There are a number of circumstances where an automatic exemption from participation requirements due to special family circumstances can be applied for PP recipients:

  • if the PP recipient is a registered and active foster carer,
  • if the PP recipient is providing home schooling to one or more of the children or secondary pupil children for whom they are the principal carer or main supporter,
  • if the PP recipient is providing or facilitating distance education for one or more of the children for whom they are the principal carer, or secondary pupil children for whom they are the main supporter,
  • if the PP recipient is caring for a large family (i.e. is the principal carer of at least one child between 6 and 15 years inclusive and a total of 4 or more children and secondary pupil children all aged 6 to 18 inclusive),
  • if a PP recipient is a relative but not a parent of a child and the child is living with the PP recipient in accordance with a family law order, or
  • if the PP recipient is a relative but not a parent of a child, and the child is living with the PP recipient in accordance with a document prepared or accepted by a state or territory authority that has responsibility for the wellbeing of children.

 

Participation requirement exemptions for all other special family circumstances are to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

 

Any special family circumstances exemptions will be subject to review and may be revoked if the family's circumstances change.

 

PP recipient is a registered & active foster carer

Registered and active foster carers are defined in the SSAct as:

  • a person who meets the requirements of the law (or regulations) of the state or territory in which the person resides in order to be registered or approved to provide foster care in that state or territory, and
  • the person is actively involved in providing foster care in that state or territory.

 

When establishing if a PP recipient is a registered and active foster carer, primary regard should be given to documentation from the relevant state or territory authority that indicates that the person is currently or could be required to provide formal foster care in the foreseeable future. It is important that recipients with this documentation who are a relative or kinship carers (for example, grandparents whose grandchildren are considered their dependent children for income support purposes), or provide respite or emergency foster care for children on an intermittent, episodic or irregular basis, also be regarded as registered and active foster carers.

 

PP recipients should not be regarded as registered and active foster carers if they only provide informal care of a child, i.e. where the person, as a relative or friend, assumes care of a child in a private arrangement.

 

Automatic exemptions from participation requirements should be applied to all PP recipients subject to mandatory participation requirements whose status as registered and active foster carers can be verified.

 

The maximum period of exemption from participation requirements is 12 months. However, it may not be appropriate to grant an exemption for this period to all PP recipients who are registered and active foster carers. It should be ensured that the documentation provided by the state or territory government, or designated foster care agency, should be determining the relevant period the person is a foster carer. For example, if the documentation indicates that a person is a registered foster carer and the documentation is only valid for 4 months, an exemption from participation requirements should also be given for 4 months.

 

PP recipients who are registered and active foster carers can apply for further periods of an exemption from participation requirements which are each not to exceed 12 months. The person will need to provide appropriate documentation to verify their circumstances. This will be used in forming a decision regarding the most appropriate duration for this exemption.

 

PP recipients will have 4 weeks immediately following the expiry of their registered and active status to provide Centrelink with documentation verifying their status has been renewed. During this time, the carer should still be considered to be exempt from participation requirements. If the PP recipient cannot produce the documentation after this 4 week period, but still claims that they are considered a registered and active foster carer, Centrelink should contact the relevant authority in that state or territory to verify the foster care status of the parent and the location of the documents.

 

If upon verification with the relevant organisation the PP recipient is still considered a formal registered and active foster carer, a new exemption should be granted until the expiry of this new status. The exemption should also be backdated to the date that the renewed, or new status began. The PP recipient will still be required to provide copies of the documentation to Centrelink within the next 4 week period.

 

PP recipients who are caring for a child, but who do not have the required documentation pertaining to being a formally registered and active foster carer are not covered by this automatic exemption. However, where the care arrangement is being overseen by the relevant government authority (i.e. the state or territory community services department), a case-by-case exemption may be applicable if the relevant authority advises that caring for the foster child affects the parent's ability to work, or search for work.

 

It is the sole responsibility of the PP recipient to inform Centrelink of any changes to their registered and active foster care status. Foster carers who are no longer active, or who become deregistered, are to immediately inform Centrelink of their change in circumstances. These parents will then become subject to participation requirements.

 

Example: Patrick is a registered and active foster carer and is in receipt of PPS. He has a child of his own, Chris, age 7 at school. He also provides formal foster care for a child, Sam, age 6. Patrick is assessed for an automatic exemption from participation requirements. Patrick has documentation which substantiates his claim as a formally registered and active foster care provider. As Patrick is likely to foster Sam (or another child if Sam leaves his care) over the next 12 months, Patrick is granted an automatic exemption for the maximum period.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 502D(3) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(6) to section 502D(7) People with disabled children and other circumstances

 

PP recipient is providing home schooling to one or more of the children for whom they are the principal carer or to one or more secondary pupil children for whom they are the main supporter

Home schooling (or home education) can be provided to children of compulsory school age regardless of proximity to government and non-government schools. Compulsory school age stops when a child turns 16 except for NT, ACT and NSW - where it stops when a child turns 15. In order to access an automatic exemption due to involvement in home schooling, a PP recipient must be home schooling at least one of the children of which they are the principal carer or main supporter. While being home schooled, a child is not generally enrolled in, or part of, the registered school system, with the exception of South Australia. It is the responsibility of the parent providing the home schooling to select or develop an appropriate curriculum (or in the case of South Australia develop a learning program that addresses the state curriculum) together with the manner of assessing and recording educational progress.

 

Under the SSAct, recognised home schoolers are defined as:

  • providing education in the home that wholly or substantially replaces the education that the child would otherwise receive by attending a school, and
  • properly adhering to any relevant state and territory laws in order to provide home schooling in that state or territory, and
  • being suitably involved in providing and supervising the education.

 

In all jurisdictions, parents wishing to home educate their child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) of compulsory school age are required by law to seek dispensation, registration or an exemption to register as a home educator with their relevant government authority before or shortly after removing their child or secondary pupil child from a government or registered non-government school. Similarly, in all states and territories a parent's proposed educational program for their child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) must meet the requirements of the relevant government authority's assessment in order to be fully registered as a home educator. If a parent in these jurisdictions is not granted full registration by the relevant government authority, then by law they must re-enrol their child or secondary pupil child in a government or registered non-government school, or if the child or secondary pupil child is still enrolled they must attend the appropriate school.

 

Some jurisdictions (ACT, NT and Tasmania) provide the parent with a provisional form of registration while assessing if full registration should be granted. The period of the provisional form of registration can last as long as 6 months - by which time the parent has withdrawn their child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) from school and has begun home schooling. In NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the NT parents must be fully registered as a home schooler before their child or secondary pupil child can be withdrawn from school.

 

In all states and territories primary regard should be given to documentation from the relevant state/territory authority which verifies that the recipient is either registered, or has an exemption to register, as a home educator in that state or territory. If this substantiating documentation is provided, an automatic exemption should be immediately granted.

 

The period of full registration for home educators granted by state/territory governments ranges from 6 months to 2 years except in WA where it is indefinite once granted. Parents wishing to continue home education in all states and territories must submit to a reapplication/review process in which the educational progress of their child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) is evaluated and the educational program for the next registration period considered.

 

In all jurisdictions registration documentation will indicate the period for which the recipient's registration is valid. Primary regard should be given to this information when the period of the automatic exemption is determined.

Note: NSW WILL NOT register a child who is past compulsory school age for home schooling. In the case of a PP recipient home schooling their child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) aged 15 to 18 in NSW, primary regard should be given to the period of time to which the parent's home schooling records (such as the curriculum used) correspond when determining the period of exemption.

 

Length of exemption

The maximum initial period of exemption from participation requirements is 12 months. However, it may not be appropriate to grant an exemption for this period to all PP recipients who are recognised home educators under social security law, for example where provisional registration has been granted for 6 months. Discretion should be used to ensure that an exemption is applied only for the period corresponding to the registration period the person has been granted by their relevant state or territory authority. In jurisdictions which provide a provisional form of registration prior regard to previous unsuccessful attempts to gain registration should be taken into account in assessing automatic exemption.

 

PP recipients who are recognised as home educators under social security law can apply for further periods of exemption each of which do not exceed 12 months. Parents will have 4 weeks immediately following the expiry of their home schooler status to provide Centrelink with documentation proving that this status has been renewed. During this time the home schooler should still be considered exempt. If the parent cannot produce the documentation after this 4 week period, but still claims that they are considered an active home schooler, Centrelink should contact the relevant authority in that state or territory to verify the home schooler status of the parent.

 

If, upon verification with the relevant organisation, the parent is still considered a recognised home schooler, a new exemption should be granted until the expiry of this new period. The exemption should also be backdated to the date that the renewed, or new, status began. The parent will still be required to provide copies of documentation to Centrelink within the 4 week period.

Example 1: Alison has one child, Sarah, aged 7 and is receiving PPS. She is a registered home schooler in NSW, and has chosen to home school Sarah. Alison has the appropriate supporting documentation and can receive an automatic exemption from participation requirements while she home schools Sarah.

 

Example 2: Angela has one child, Derek, aged 7, and Angela is receiving PP . She has obtained provisional registration as a home schooler and has withdrawn Derek from school. Angela provides supporting documentation and is granted an exemption of 6 months which can be extended if she gains full registration as a home schooler.

 

It is the sole responsibility of the PP recipient to inform Centrelink of any changes to their recognised home schooler status. Home schoolers who are no longer active, or who lose their dispensation or exemption or become deregistered, must immediately inform Centrelink of their change in circumstances. These parents will then become subject to participation requirements.

 

Principal carer or main supporter parents who are caring for a child, but who do not have the required documentation pertaining to being recognised home schoolers in their state or territory are not covered under this automatic exemption.

 

In the event of an appeal, the jurisdictional process of each state/territory is to be the main process driver.

  • If the child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) are required to attend a government or registered non-government school whilst the appeal process is underway then an automatic exemption from participation requirements is not to be granted.
  • If the child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) are not required to attend a government or registered non-government school whilst the appeal process is underway then the decision to provide an exemption, for the period of the appeal process, is to rest with the Centrelink service advisor, having regard to the wellbeing of the child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren), discussions with the relevant state/territory authority and the intentions of the parent.
  • If the appeal is successful the period of automatic exemption from participation requirements is to be backdated to the date the dispensation, registration or exemption to register as a home educator was lodged.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 5C Home educators, section 502D(3)(a) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(3B) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(6) to section 502D(7) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 542FA(3) Disabled children or other family circumstances exemption, section 602C(3) Relief from activity test-people with disabled children and other circumstances

 

PP recipient is providing or facilitating distance education for one or more of the children for whom they are principal carer or for one or more secondary pupil children for whom they are main supporter

Distance education is primarily available for students who live a long way from school. Other students can also access distance education in certain circumstances such as those who are travelling, have itinerant families, have a medical condition or are approved for special enrolment. In order to access an automatic exemption due to involvement in distance education, a PP recipient must be providing or facilitating distance education for at least one of the children of which they are the principal carer or one of the secondary pupil children of which they are the main supporter.

 

Under the SSAct, a person is recognised as a distance educator of a child or secondary pupil child if:

  • the child or secondary pupil child is enrolled at a school providing a distance education curriculum, and
  • the child or secondary pupil child is undertaking that curriculum, and
  • the person is suitably involved in assisting and supervising the child or secondary pupil child in relation to that curriculum.

 

To establish if a PP recipient should be recognised as a distance educator, primary regard should be given to documentation which establishes that the child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) are enrolled as a distance education student in a school providing that form of enrolment. In addition the PP recipient should be able to provide a written statement that they play, or intend to play, an active role in assisting and supervising the child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) undertaking the distance education curriculum. If all this substantiating evidence is provided, an automatic exemption should be granted.

 

If the child or secondary pupil child(ren) is properly enrolled and undertaking a distance education curriculum but a person other than the PP recipient (e.g. a tutor or nanny) is actively involved in assisting and supervising the child(ren) or secondary pupil child(ren) undertaking the distance education curriculum, it would not be appropriate for the PP recipient to be granted an exemption. However, unless evidence to the contrary is or becomes apparent, a determination must be made based on the PP recipient's supporting statement.

 

The maximum initial period of exemption from participation requirements is 12 months. However, it may not be appropriate to grant an exemption for this period to all PP recipients who are recognised distance educators under social security law. Discretion should be used to ensure that an exemption is applied only for the period a PP recipient may reasonably be expected to retain this status.

 

PP recipients who are recognised as distance educators under social security law can apply for further periods of exemption which are also not to exceed 12 months. Similar discretion should be used to determine if a further period of exemption should be granted together with the most appropriate duration of that exemption.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 5D Distance educators, section 502D(3) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(3B) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(6) to section 502D(7) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 542FA(3) Disabled children or other family circumstances exemption, section 602C(3) Relief from activity test-people with disabled children and other circumstances

 

PP recipient is caring for a large family

A PP recipient who is the principal carer of at least one dependent child (aged between 6 and 15 years) and a total of 4 or more dependent children and secondary pupil children (all aged between 6 and 18 years inclusive) should be granted an automatic exemption from participation requirements.

 

The period of the exemption cannot exceed 12 months but there may be subsequent exemptions from participation requirements for one or more other periods (also each not exceeding 12 months).

Note: The exemption should cease when the PP recipient ceases to have care of 4 children aged between 6 and 18 inclusive, including one school aged dependent child, i.e. until the youngest of the 4 children turns 16 years or until the oldest of the secondary pupil children turns 19 years. Primary regard should be given to this when the initial or subsequent periods of exemption is determined.

Example 1: Peter and Alexandra have 4 school age children. Alexandra receives PP as a recipient. Alexandra should be granted automatic exemptions from participation requirements while the 4 children are all between the ages of 6 and 15 and all within her primary care.

 

Example 2: Mike is a PP recipient and has 4 school aged children (James 7, Tony 9, Simon 14 and Greg 18). On 1 September 2012, Mike's eldest child, Greg turns 19 and ceases to be a secondary pupil child. As Mike only has 3 children under 19, he is no longer qualified for a large family exemption and he must undertake approved activities to meet his participation requirements.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 502D(3A) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(6) to section 502D(7) People with disabled children and other circumstances

 

PP recipient is a relative but not a parent of a child & the child is living with the PP recipient in accordance with a family law order

In some instances where a parent is unable to appropriately care for their child(ren), a court such as the Family Court or Federal Magistrate's Court, can direct that the child(ren) live with a relative as an alternative to formal foster care. This exemption only applies to people who are related to the child but who are not the parent of the child(ren), (i.e. excluding natural, adoptive or step parents) but, as a result of a court order, are now providing care for the child(ren).

 

In determining whether to grant an exemption to a PP recipient from the activity test for this reason, consideration should be given to whether or not there is a family law order that directs a child or children to live with a person, whether the person is adhering to the order and whether the person is related to the child(ren). Where this can be established the PP recipient should be granted the exemption for the period of the order or for a period of 12 months (renewable) if the period to which the order relates exceeds 12 months. Discretion should be used to ensure that an exemption is applied only for a period consistent with the ongoing effect of the family law order.

Note: Documentation in the form of parenting plans are not sufficient for the purpose of this exemption, i.e. a copy of a family law order made by or registered by a court exercising powers under the Family Law Act 1975 must be sighted.

 

This exemption does not apply to a PP recipient who is a parent of the child(ren). For example, where parents separate and one parent receives a court order which provides for sole care of the child, then this person should not be granted an exemption. Any PP recipient who is not the parent but an extended relative of the child(ren) who adopts the child(ren), should be considered the parent of the child(ren) from that point and will therefore no longer be eligible for this exemption.

Note: For the purpose of this exemption a person is considered to be a relative of a child (other than a parent) if:

  • the person is not the child's natural parent, adoptive parent or step-parent and the person is related to the child by blood, adoption or marriage,
  • the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child who has traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship ties - the person is related to the child under Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules, or
  • the child is a member of a community that accepts relationships other than those referred to above as kinship ties and the person is accepted by the community to be related to the child.

Note: A family law order means:

  • a parenting order within the meaning of section 64B of the Family Law Act 1975, or
  • a family violence order within the meaning of section 4 of that act, or
  • a state child order registered under section 70D of that act, or
  • an overseas child order registered under section 70G of that act.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 5E Relatives (other than parents), section 502D People with disabled children and other circumstances

 

PP recipient job seeker is a relative but not a parent of a child, & the child is living with the principal carer in accordance with a document prepared or accepted by a state/territory authority (also referred to as 'kinship care')

An automatic exemption from the activity test is granted to a PP recipient who is a relative (kin), but not a parent of the child, and cares for the child in accordance with a document that is prepared or accepted by the relevant state/territory authority that has responsibility for the wellbeing of children. The length of the exemption should be for the period of kinship care anticipated in the documentation, or for a maximum period of 12 months.

 

Note: For the purpose of this exemption a person is considered to be a relative of a child (other than a parent) if:

  • the person is not the child's natural parent, adoptive parent or step-parent, and the person is related to the child by blood, adoption or marriage,
  • the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child who has traditional Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship ties - the person is related to the child under Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules, or
  • the child is a member of a community that accepts relationships other than those referred to above as kinship ties and the person is accepted by the community to be related to the child.

 

Example: Margaret's daughter, Sarah, abandoned her 6-year old son, Thomas. The NSW authorities have given Margaret a document awarding her with the care of her grandson Thomas for a period of 6 months. Margaret is in receipt of PPS and, as the kinship carer for Thomas, she would be automatically exempt from the activity test for 6 months. Her circumstances should be reviewed at the end of this period to see whether an extension of the exemption for a longer period is warranted. The maximum length of an exemption is 12 months.

 

Act reference: SSAct section 5E Relatives (other than parents), section 502D(3C) People with disabled children and other circumstances, section 502D(6) to section 502D(7) People with disabled children and other circumstances

_______________________________________________________

Last reviewed: 2 January 2013


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Last Edited: 13/12/2012 12:41:49 PM


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