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Student and Youth Assistance Amendment (Youth Training Allowance) Bill (No.2) 1995
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Employment, Education and Training
Commencement: As specified in the 'Main Provisions' section of this Digest
The Bill makes a number of largely technical amendments relating to the Youth Training Allowance (YTA). The Bill does not contain any major policy initiatives. The major amendments:
. extend eligibility for YTA to certain persons aged between 15 and 16;
. allow YTA overpayments to be recovered from subsequent benefits payable under student assistance;
. accord the Secretary power to waive all or part of a debt in certain circumstances;
. accord the Secretary power to enter into agreement with a party to proceedings before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal relating to the recovery of a debt to settle the proceedings;
. allow debts over $50 to be recovered by withholdings from YTA; and
. increase the rent assistance threshold and rate of rent assistance by $5 per fortnight for those eligible for YTA.
In May 1994, the Government released its Employment White Paper (entitled Working Nation) which provided funding of $10.3 billion over four years for various employment and training measures. The White Paper included provision for a Youth Training Initiative (YTI) at a cost of $730 million over the period 1994- 95 to 1997- 98. The YTI is aimed at ensuring that young people obtain appropriate entry level training places, work, experience, further education or vocational education or a job at the earliest possible stage of their unemployment. Included in the YTI is a Youth Training Allowance (YTA) which provides income support for YTI participants.
The YTI contains basically three strands:
. the provision of intensive case management for unemployed people under the age of 18 years;
. the placement of longer term (in excess of six months) young unemployed in labour market or vocational training programs; and
. the provisions of new income support arrangements (the YTA) to encourage young people to participate in education, training and work experience opportunities. The YTA replaced the Job Search Allowance (JSA) for those under 18 years of age.
The YTA is payable to young unemployed people aged 16 and 17 years and who were not in receipt of the JSA on 1 January 1995. Those who were receiving the JSA at that date continue to do so. The YTA is also payable to 15 year olds if they have reached the school leaving age, are unsupported and living away from home.
YTA general eligibility conditions are the same as for the present JSA for under 18 year olds. YTA recipients are subject to a personal income test (the same that applies for the JSA) and an assets test (the same that applies to AUSTUDY). The AUSTUDY assets test is generally more generous than that applying for the JSA.
It is estimated by the Department of Employment, Education and Training that approximately 28 000 unemployed young people will take up the YTA in 1995.
The main policy role and administrative responsibility for the YTA is with the Department of Employment, Education and Training but the payment agency is the Department of Social Security.
Sections 65 to 75 of the Student and Youth Assistance Act 1973 (the Principal Act) deal with the requirements that must be satisfied for a person to be eligible for YTA. The basic qualifications are contained in section 65. Subsection 65(3) deals with the requirements for a person aged between 15 and 16 years. Under
subsection 65(3) a person will qualify for YTA if they are aged between 15 and 16
and would have qualified for YTA if they were 16 and:
. have been in full time employment on a permanent or continuing casual basis, have received an offer of such employment but were unable to take up the offer due to reasons beyond their control, or have been registered as unemployed for at least 13 weeks [these requirements are referred to as the "workforce requirements"];
. have reached minimum school leaving age for the State or Territory in which they live or have an exemption from attending school; and
. do not live at the home of either parent and receives no financial support from either parent.
A new subsection 65(3A) is inserted in the Principal Act by item 2 of Schedule 2 which extends eligibility for YTA to persons aged between 15 and 16 who are
. independent, other than through marriage, and do not meet the "workforce requirements" (see above); or
. living at home with either of their parents and the parent with whom they are living is receiving a social security pension or benefit, service pension or payment under a prescribed educational scheme.
The proposed amendments will commence on 1 January 1996 [ subclause 2(4)].
Section 38 of the Principal Act provides for student assistance; special educational assistance scheme; prescribed educational scheme and social security or veterans' overpayments to be recovered from subsequent benefits payable under student assistance
A new subparagraph 38(2)(a)(i) is inserted in the Principal Act by item 3 of Schedule 3 which will allow YTA overpayments to be recovered from subsequent benefits payable under student assistance.
The proposed amendment will commence on 1 January 1996 [ subclause 2(3)].
Sections 288- 290 of the Principal Act deal with the waiver of debts relating to YTA. New sections 288- 290C are inserted in the Principal Act by item 2 of Schedule 5.
The major differences between the proposed provisions and the current law are that the circumstances when all or part of a debt can be waived will be amalgamated. Major features of the new provisions include:
. under proposed section 288 the Secretary is accorded the power to waive all or part of a debt in the circumstances described in proposed sections 289- 290C.
Under the current law (section 289), the Secretary must waive the whole of a debt where there was an administrative error, conviction of an offence, underestimate of property value or the debt is less than $200. Section 290 provides that the Secretary may waive part of a debt in settlement of a civil action and that the Commonwealth may recover part of a debt in full satisfaction for the whole.
. Proposed section 290 provides for the waiver of a debt where a person has been convicted of an offence that gave rise to a part of the debt and the court indicated that it imposed a longer custodial sentence because he/she was unable or unwilling to pay the debt. Under the current law [subsection 289(3)], the Secretary must waive the whole of a debt if the debt arose because a person was convicted of an offence and the court indicated that it imposed a longer custodial sentence because the person was unable or unwilling to pay the debt (i.e. there is no power to waive part of a debt in such a situation).
. Proposed section 290A provides for the waiver of debts that are, or are likely to be, less than $200 and it is not cost effective for the Commonwealth to recover. However, this rule will not apply where debtor's debt is at least $50 and could be recovered by making deductions from YTA. Under the current law [subsection 289(5)], the Secretary must waive a debt that is, or is likely to be, less than $200 and it is not cost effective for the Commonwealth to take action to recover it.
. Proposed subsection 290B(2) provides that where a settlement has been agreed to in Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) proceedings for recovery of a debt on the basis that the debtor pay less than the full amount owing, the Secretary must waive the right to recover the difference between the debt and the amount subject to the settlement. There is no comparable provision in the current law.
. Proposed section 290C provides for the waiver of debts, in whole or in part, where the Minister is satisfied that:
. the debt did not arise, in whole or in part from the debtor or someone else knowingly making a false statement or representation, or not complying with a provision of the Principal Act;
. there are special, non- financial hardship, reasons that make it desirable; and
. it is more appropriate to waive than to write off the debt or part of it.
There is no comparable provision in the current law.
Item 4 of Schedule 5 accords the Secretary power to enter into an agreement with a party to proceedings before the AAT relating to recovery of a debt to settle the proceedings. Where such a matter is settled, the application for review of the debt recovery decision is taken to have been dismissed.
The amendment will commence on 1 January 1996 [ subclause 2(3)].
Section 142 of the Principal Act requires that instalments of a person's YTA are required to be paid into an account or in a way specified by the Secretary. Item 1 of Schedule 6 omits subsections 142(4) and 142(5). Subsection 142(4) provides provide that where a person has not nominated an account then, subject to subsection 142(5) and 142(7), YTA is not to be paid. Subsection 142(5) requires that that YTA withheld under subsection 142(4) be paid once an account is nominated.
The rationale for omitting the subsections given in the Explanatory Memorandum is that
There was no provision to cancel or suspend if a person failed to nominate an account. The section required that money be kept by the Department and paid under subsection 142(5) when the person subsequently advised an account.
New subsections 142(8) and 142(9) are inserted in the Principal Act by item 2 of Schedule 6. The proposed subsections effectively replace subsections 142(4) and 142(5) by providing:
. YTA will cease to be payable where a person has not nominated an account, within 28 days of the YTA becoming payable (the preliminary period), and the Secretary has not given a direction that the YTA be paid in another way [proposed subsection 142(8)]; and
. where YTA ceases to be payable because a person fails to nominate an account subsection 142(8), the YTA will again become payable from the end of the preliminary period where they nominate an account within 3 months of the end of the preliminary period, or on and from the day on which the nomination was made (i.e. if an account is nominated within 3 months 28 days, YTA will be paid from the day it became payable. In other cases it will be payable from the day the nomination is made).
Item 4 of Schedule 7 of the Bill inserts a new section 265A in the Principal Act that will increase the rent assistance threshold and rate of rent assistance by $5 per fortnight for those eligible for YTA. Rent assistance becomes payable where rent is payable by an eligible person above the rent threshold rate.
The amendment will commence on 19 March 1995 [ subclause 2(5)].
Ian Ireland (06 2772438)
Bills Digest Service
Parliamentary Research Service
26 October 1995
This Digest does not have any legal status. Other sources should be consulted to
determine whether this Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.
Commonwealth of Australia 1995
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