If you have recently separated from a partnership where you had children, you will need to get your head around single parent benefits in Australia. This includes how they work and what you might be entitled to.
As a single parent, you may be eligible for various government benefits to help you get back on your feet and support your single parent family during difficult financial times. These include monetary support with parenting costs, job seeking, child care and rental expenses.
The key is knowing what is available to you, whether you are entitled it, and how to apply. The amount you receive will depend on your personal circumstances such as income, assets, the number of children in your care and the amount of time you care for them. All this is tested and checked before payments are made. Note: In some cases, this can be a long process.
In this article we take you through benefits for single parents so you can claim what you need to, when you most need it.
Government benefits to single parents
Family Tax Benefit
Family Tax Benefits (FTB) provide financial assistance to millions of Australian families with dependent children. There are two parts to FTB – Part A, which is based on household income and the number and age of your children; and Part B, which is only available to one-income households, which includes single parents.
For 2021-22, the maximum rate of FTB Part A is now $191.24 for a child 0 to 12 years and $248.78 for a child 13 to 19 years. In addition, children aged 16 – 19 must be studying in order to collect FTB Part A.
At the end of the financial year, eligible parents can also receive the FTB Part A end-of-year supplement. This is a one-time payment of up to $788.40 that is available per eligible child, which is used to balance your payments against your income from work.
Overall, how much you will get in Family Tax Benefits will depend on your eligibility and individual circumstances. For single parents, however, FTB Part B provides additional financial support or assistance to help your family get through tough times.
Parenting Payment Single
Single parents on a low income may be eligible for the Parenting Payment Single, which helps provide financial assistance to help cover costs associated with raising children. The payment is a great help, particularly for single parents who have limited financial means.
To be eligible, single parents must meet certain criteria such as having a dependent child and not living with a partner. The payment is generally reviewed to ensure recipients are meeting the eligibility requirements, so any changes in your circumstances must be reported to Centrelink within 14 days.
Child Care Subsidy
The Child Care Subsidy is an Australian Government payment designed to assist parents with the costs of child care. It replaces the former Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate which are no longer available.
The amount of money received through the subsidy depends on a family’s individual circumstances, including their combined income, how many hours they work each week, the type of child care they use, and an hourly rate cap on childcare costs.
For you to work out how much you might be able to get, you will need to use the Centrelink Payment and Service Finder. The results of this assessment will indicate your eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy as well as the amount that may be available to assist with child care costs.
Jobseeker Payment Scheme (the old Newstart Allowance)
Newstart Allowance was discontinued on 20 March 2020, when the new JobSeeker Payment scheme came into effect. This payment is the main financial support provided to individuals between the ages of 22 and Age Pension age, who are either looking for work or unable to complete their usual studies or work due to sickness or injury.
In order to receive JobSeeker Payment, individuals must meet certain criteria and continue to comply with any mutual obligation requirements that were put in place when they were receiving Newstart Allowance.
These obligations may include meeting regularly with an employment service provider, participating in activities that improve the individual’s job prospects, or completing a training program. Those who fail to meet these obligations may be subject to sanctions or have their payments suspended.
ParentsNext is a program designed to support single parents with young children, aged six and below. It provides the necessary resources for them to plan for the future and prepare for future employment when their children reach school age.
To participate in this program, single mums must be selected and be willing to report their progress fortnightly; otherwise, they may face the risk of not receiving their Parenting Payment or Newstart benefits on time.
Crisis Payment as a single parent benefit Australia
Crisis Payment is a one-off, non-taxable financial assistance provided by the government to individuals who are facing extreme circumstances and severe financial hardship.
To be eligible for this payment, one must meet all of the following criteria:
- They must be in a state of severe financial hardship
- Be receiving or eligible to receive an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance
- Be facing an extreme circumstance such as experiencing family violence, displacement due to natural or other disasters not covered by disaster relief payment
- Newly arrived Humanitarian Entrants in Australia for the first time
- Recently released from prison or psychiatric confinement.
To apply for a Crisis Payment, you must contact servicesaustralia.gov.au within 7 days of the extreme circumstance occurring, or within 14 days if your extreme circumstance is due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
You can still claim Crisis Payment even if you’re receiving new electrical goods or food from other agencies or charities. Note that in cases where disaster relief payments are applicable, Crisis Payments cannot be claimed.
If you believe you’re eligible for a Crisis Payment, contact Services Australian as soon as possible to see how they can best help. Their experienced team is always ready to support you in your time of need.
Child Support Agency (CSA)
The Child Support Agency (CSA) is an invaluable resource for single mothers, providing a valuable bridge between ex-partners to ensure that children are cared for financially.
Navigating the CSA system can feel daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. For those who are struggling to receive payments from their former partner, help and support are available.
The CSA provides online services to make the process easier, and you can also register with them for private collection. In other words, you can tell the CSA that your ex is responsible for privately paying child support to you – and if they fail to do so, you can report them. So don’t be scared of the CSA; get in touch and find out what help is available.
What’s more, you can even link the CSA to your MyGov account for added convenience. With the right support and guidance, managing child support payments doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.
For more information about any of the above government payments for single parents or Child Support, head to the Services Australia website.
Further financial support for single mothers Australia
Family and domestic violence is a major social issues that can take many forms. It can include, but is not limited to, controlling behaviours such as threats and intimidation; physical abuse like hitting, slapping, kicking and restraining; sexual assault or abuse; emotional abuse such as humiliation and insults; stalking through use of technology or otherwise; and financial abuse such as controlling access to funds or withholding money.
Diane Tate, a prominent financial expert, and advocate for domestic violence victims has stressed the fact that banks do not require legal evidence of domestic violence such as an Apprehended Violence Order in order to assist customers.
This is a critical point to note, as it means that even without going through the formal legal channels, banks are able to offer assistance with protecting your finances from domestic violence, and ultimately getting you back on track. Using banks for support at this difficult time is one of the little-known but hugely helpful single mother benefits.
Your bank can help you when your relationship ends, providing you with advice and assistance on changing account names and passwords, as well as support in setting up a new bank account. They can also provide guidance on how to keep your finances safe from an ex-partner who may try to access your accounts or use them for their own purposes.
Domestic violence crisis payments from Australian banks
Commonwealth Bank domestic violence crisis payments
Commonwealth Bank is taking a stand against domestic violence by providing crisis payments to those single mothers who have recently left their husband. These single mothers are reporting that they received a $600 cash payment which is not officially confirmed by Commonwealth Bank.
Westpac Bank domestic violence emergency cash
Westpac Bank has made a meaningful effort in curating essential information and resources for separating parents, especially mums. To further supplement this effort, Westpac offers its customers the option of an emergency cash provision for those who are victims of family violence.
This special service is specifically targeted at helping victims escape volatile home situations with financial support that can provide temporary shelter or other living accommodations.
ANZ Bank separating parents advice
ANZ Bank provides invaluable advice for separating parents, especially mums, through their resources. They provide an abundance of contacts and advice on a variety of topics such as how to handle superannuation after separation, child support payments and financial assistance. And you can apply for assistance due to financial difficulty.
Charities that offer benefits for single mothers
Council of Single Mothers and their Children
The Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) is a non-profit organization dedicated and committed to providing much-needed support and assistance to single mothers and their children in Australia. Established in 1969, the CSMC has been working relentlessly for decades towards improving the lives of single mums and their families.
The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (NCSMC)
The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children (NCSMC) is a non-profit organisation that was established more than four decades ago with the aim of supporting and empowering single mothers living in hardship. Through their work, they seek to eliminate and respond to instances of violence, domestic abuse and other forms of hardship faced by these single parent families.
Lifeline is a charity organisation that works hard to provide emotional support and counselling for single mothers who find themselves in difficult situations. They understand the struggles that these courageous women face, and work tirelessly to lend a helping hand.
Through their services, those affected by domestic violence, natural disasters or other crises can receive short-term counselling to help them cope and survive with their current difficulties and challenges.
In addition, Lifeline provides online resources and telephone support or assistance for those who require additional help.
Beyond Blue is a charity organisation that provides support, help and aid to single mothers who are going through emotional distress. They provide a wide range of services such as phone, email, and online chat support from trained professionals and mental health experts.
This support is designed to give people the help they need in times of difficulty and uncertainty, whether it be due to anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Black Dog Institute
The Black Dog Institute is an internationally-renowned medical research organisation that focuses and centers solely on mental health and well-being.
Founded in 2002, it has since developed into a highly respected institution dedicated to providing comprehensive evidence-based solutions to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness.
Through innovative research, cutting-edge technology, qualified clinical services and strong public advocacy, the Institute is committed to creating a mentally healthier world and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.
All these organisations mentioned above are doing incredible work to encourage, support and empower those women in need and make a real difference and improvement in their lives.
With the right assistance, we can ensure that all these single mums have access to these useful resources they need to lead happy, contented, and fulfilling lives. By supporting these organisations, we can make this world a better place for single mums and their families.
Further reading: 15 Brilliant charities that help single mothers.
Free legal aid for single mothers
When it comes to single mothers, having access to quality legal advice, counselling and guidance can be a challenge.
If you need more information about the different legal issues that may arise after a relationship has ended, such as parenting arrangements Legalaid.qld.gov.au can provide you with comprehensive advice and assistance to help guide you through this difficult time.
With access to experienced solicitors and lawyers, they can provide advice and support about any aspect of family law, from parenting orders to family violence and all other relevant law.
Further reading: What is legal aid and can I get it for my family law case.
Final words: Understanding single parent benefits Australia
Delving into the realm of single parent benefits in Australia highlights the critical role that social welfare programs play in ensuring the well-being of both parents and children.
The Australian government's multifaceted support system acknowledges single parents' unique challenges and seeks to alleviate financial strains while fostering a conducive environment for holistic growth.
The comprehensive analysis of various benefits, such as the Single Parent Payment, Family Tax Benefit, and Child Care Subsidy, underscores the government's commitment to enhancing the quality of life for single parents. These initiatives offer financial assistance and recognise the pivotal role of education and employment in uplifting families from the cycle of dependence.
Nevertheless, the landscape of single parenting is ever-evolving, and the effectiveness of these benefits hinges on continuous evaluation and adaptation to the changing needs of society. Furthermore, enhancing public awareness about the available support systems is paramount to ensure eligible single parents can access these resources without unnecessary hurdles.