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Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Bill 2017

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2016-2017

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BETTER TARGETING STUDENT PAYMENTS) BILL 2017

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 (Circulated by the authority of the

Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP)



SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BETTER TARGETING STUDENT PAYMENTS) BILL 2017

 

OUTLINE

 

This bill introduces the following Budget 2017-18 measures:

 

  • Better Targeting of the Relocation Scholarship; and
  • Aligning the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment.

 

Schedule 1 - Relocation scholarship payment

 

Schedule 1 implements the 2017-18 Budget measure Better Targeting of the Relocation Scholarship .

 

The amendments made by this Schedule better target the relocation scholarship assistance for Youth Allowance students to those whose parental family home or usual place of residence is in Australia. Students whose parental family home or usual place of residence is located outside Australia will no longer be able to qualify for the relocation scholarship. Access to the relocation scholarship will also be restricted to students relocating to study in Australia. Students who relocate outside Australia to undertake part of their Australian course will no longer be qualified for the relocation scholarship.

 

Schedule 2 - Education entry payment

Schedule 2 implements part of the 2017-18 Budget measure Aligning the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment .

The amendments made by this schedule will better align education entry payment rates with the study loads undertaken by eligible students and four payment tiers for the payment will be introduced.

Schedule 3 - Pensioner education supplement

Schedule 3 implements part of the 2017-18 Budget measure Aligning the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment .                                                                         

The amendments made by this schedule will better align pensioner education supplement fortnightly rates with a person’s study load. The schedule will also ensure that payments of pensioner education supplement will cease during semester breaks and holiday periods.

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

The Government will achieve savings of $1.9 million over five years from 2016-17 for the measure contained in Schedule 1.

 

The Government will achieve savings of $94.7 million over five years from 2016-17 for the measure contained in Schedules 2 and 3.

 

STATEMENTS OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

The statements of compatibility with human rights appear at the end of this explanatory memorandum.

 

 

 

 



SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BETTER TARGETING STUDENT PAYMENTS) BILL 2017

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Abbreviations used in this explanatory memorandum

 

In this explanatory memorandum:

 

 

  • Social Security Act means the Social Security Act 1991 ; and

 

  • Veterans’ Entitlements Act means the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 .

 

 

Clause 1 sets out how the new Act is to be cited - that is, as the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Act 2017.

 

Clause 2 provides a table setting out the commencement dates of the various sections in, and Schedules to, the new Act.

 

Clause 3 provides that each Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule.



Schedule 1 - Relocation scholarship payment

Summary

 

Schedule 1 implements the 2017-18 Budget measure Better Targeting of the Relocation Scholarship .

 

The amendments made by this Schedule better target the relocation scholarship assistance for Youth Allowance students to those whose parental family home or usual place of residence is in Australia. Students whose parental family home or usual place of residence is located outside Australia will no longer be able to qualify for the relocation scholarship. Access to the relocation scholarship will also be restricted to students relocating to study in Australia. Students who relocate outside Australia to undertake part of their Australian course will no longer be qualified for the relocation scholarship.

Background

The relocation scholarship was introduced on 1 April 2010 with the intention of assisting dependent and some independent students who have to move away from home to undertake higher education studies with the costs of establishing new accommodation. The objective of the relocation scholarship is to remove financial barriers to the education participation of students from low socio-economic status backgrounds, particularly those from regional and remote areas of Australia and Indigenous students.

 

The relocation scholarship primarily assists students from regional and remote areas of Australia moving away from home to study. This is in recognition that regional and remote students face additional costs in pursuing tertiary education and have much lower participation rates in higher education than students from major city areas of Australia. The relocation scholarship also assists students from major city areas who relocate to undertake study at a regional or remote campus location. 

 

Qualification for the relocation scholarship payment is restricted to recipients of youth allowance (or ABSTUDY recipients under equivalent provisions in the ABSTUDY policy manual) undertaking higher education or higher education preparatory courses.

 

Currently, students with a parental home or usual place of residence outside of Australia are qualified for the relocation scholarship regardless of whether they are moving to a major city or regional area in Australia to study. The relocation scholarship is not paid to students relocating within or between major city locations in Australia. Continuing to pay the relocation scholarship to students moving away from a residence outside of Australia to study in Australia is therefore not consistent policy.

 

The relocation scholarship is also paid to students who elect to undertake part of their Australian course in a study location outside of Australia. This is also not consistent policy to pay the relocation scholarship to these students.

 

These students are currently qualified as a result of applying the Remoteness Structure in subsection 1067A(10F) of the Social Security Act 1991 (the Act) and are subsequently treated the same as regional and remote students for relocation scholarship qualification purposes. This is a loophole in the current legislation and any location that is not classified as one of the Major Cities of Australia in accordance with the Remoteness Structure is, by default, treated as a regional or remote location. This includes locations outside of Australia.

 

The amendments made by Schedule 1 aim to simplify the payment of the relocation scholarship and better target the payment by narrowing the range of youth allowance students who are qualified for the scholarship.

 

The amendments made by Schedule 1 commence on 1 January 2018 if the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Act 2017 receives the Royal Assent before 1 January 2018. If this Act receives the Royal Assent on or after 1 January 2018, Schedule 1 will commence on the first 1 January or 1 July to occur after the day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Explanation of the changes

 

Amendments to the Social Security Act 1991

 

Item 1 amends section 592K of the Act to insert new subsections 592K(7A), (7B) and (7C). These new subsections provide for three additional circumstances in which a person is not qualified for a relocation scholarship payment despite being otherwise qualified under section 592J.

 

The first circumstance, dealt with in new subsection 592K(7A), applies where each of the person’s parents has their home outside of Australia. This rule is intended to ensure that despite otherwise qualifying for the relocation scholarship under section 592J, a person is not qualified if, on the day the person started to undertake the course (referred to in paragraph 592J(d)), the home of each parent of the person was outside Australia.

 

 

 

Example 1

Kate lives with both of her parents in Singapore as her mother has been posted there for work purposes. Kate decides to return to Australia in 2018 to commence university. Kate will not be eligible for the relocation scholarship as her parental family home is outside of Australia.

 

Example 2

Dylan lives with his father in Jakarta and his mother lives in Wagga Wagga. Dylan returns to Australia in 2019 to undertake a higher education course. As both of Dylan’s parents do not live outside of Australia, he may qualify for the relocation scholarship based on the home of his mother, provided he meets the other qualification criteria.

 

The second circumstance, as dealt with by new subsection 592K(7B), applies to prevent a person who otherwise qualifies for relocation scholarship under section 592J from being qualified for relocation scholarship where the person is, at qualification time independent because of subsection 1067A(3), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9) or (11) of the Act; and on the day six months before beginning their course, had their usual place of residence outside of Australia. This is intended to ensure that people who have recently moved from outside of Australia to study are not qualified for the relocation scholarship, and to be consistent with new subsection 592K(7A).

 

Example 3

Natalie is independent for youth allowance purposes as she has a dependent child. Six months before she commenced her course in 2019 in Australia, Natalie’s usual place of residence was in Beijing where she was working for the past two years. As Natalie’s usual place of residence six months before her course started was in a location outside of Australia, she is not eligible for the relocation scholarship.

 

It should be noted that in order to qualify for the relocation scholarship, a person must also be qualified for youth allowance. One of the qualification criteria for youth allowance is that throughout the period of qualification the person must be an Australian resident. This means that the person must reside in Australia and be either an Australian citizen, hold a permanent visa or hold a protected special category visa. As people who are not Australian residents cannot access youth allowance and the relocation scholarship, these amendments do not apply to them.

 

The third circumstance, as dealt with by new subsection 592K(7C), relates to people whose place of study is outside of Australia at the person’s qualification time. This subsection operates to ensure that despite being otherwise qualified for the relocation scholarship under section 592J, a person is not qualified if, at the person’s qualification time, the person’s place of study, as worked out in accordance with an instrument in force under subsection 592J(8), is outside Australia. However, upon their return from studying outside of Australia, a student may qualify for the relocation scholarship for the remainder of their course in Australia.

 

Example 4

John is qualified for youth allowance and undertaking a university course in Sydney. John received a relocation scholarship in 2018 for the first year of his course as his parental family home was located in Dubbo and he was studying in a major city area. In 2019, John decides to undertake a year of study in Italy that will be credited towards his Australian course. As his place of study is outside of Australia, John will not be eligible for the relocation scholarship. In 2020, John returns to study in Sydney and provided he continues to meet the relocation scholarship qualification criteria, he may requalify for the scholarship.

 

For the purposes of new subsections 592K (7A), (7B) and (7C), the definition of ‘Australia’ used is the same as that contained in section 23 of the Act. This section defines Australia as including ‘Norfolk Island, the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Territory of Christmas Island’.

 

Item 2 inserts the subheading ‘Interpretation’ before subsection 592K(8).

 

Item 3 is an application provision for the amendments made by this schedule. Sub-item 3(1) provides that subject to item 3, the amendments made by this schedule apply in relation to working out whether a person is qualified for a relocation scholarship payment at a time on or after the commencement of this item, whether the person started to undertake the course concerned before, on or after that commencement.

 

Example 5

Julie is a youth allowance recipient who begins her course on 10 January 2018. If the amendments made by Schedule 1 commence on 1 January 2018 they will apply to Julie. This means that if Julie is considered dependent for youth allowance purposes and the home of both of her parents is overseas she will not qualify for the relocation scholarship. Alternatively, if Julie is considered independent for youth allowance purposes and her usual place of residence is overseas, she will not qualify for the relocation scholarship. Julie will also not qualify for the relocation scholarship if her place of study is overseas.

 

Sub-item 3(2) provides that if, before the commencement of this item, a person started to undertake a course referred to in paragraph 592J(d) of the Act and on the day they began that course the home of each parent was outside Australia, or on the day six months before the person started to undertake that course, the person’s usual place of residence was outside Australia, then the new subsections 592K(7A) and (7B) of the Act do not apply for the purposes of working out whether the person is qualified for a relocation scholarship payment at a time on or after the commencement of this item. The note in this sub-item states that subsection 592K(7C) does apply in relation to the person.

 

Example 6

Samantha is a youth allowance recipient who moved from her parental home in Ireland to Australia to study. She began her course on 15 January 2017 and qualified for the relocation scholarship. Under sub-item 3(2) of the application provision, Samantha is still qualified for the relocation scholarship and therefore it is still payable because she began her course before the commencement of Schedule 1 and she had received a relocation scholarship in relation to that course. This assumes the amendments made by Schedule 1 commence on 1 January 2018.

 

However, if Samantha elects to study part of her Australian course in New Zealand from 15 January 2018, then the new subsection 592(7C) would apply and for the second year of study, Samantha would not be eligible for the relocation scholarship. If Samantha returns to Australia in 2019 to continue her course, she will qualify once again for the relocation scholarship provided she continues to meet the eligibility criteria.  



Schedule 2 - Education entry payment

Summary  

Schedule 2 implements part of the 2017-18 Budget measure Aligning the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment .

The amendments made by this schedule will better align education entry payment rates with the study loads undertaken by eligible students and four payment tiers for the payment will be introduced.

Background

In broad terms, the education entry payment assists with education expenses, and is paid once a calendar year to eligible recipients.

 

The education entry payment was introduced in 1993 to assist long-term income support recipients improve or re-build their skills and training to be more competitive in the labour market.

 

At present, recipients of certain social security payments and payments administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs may qualify for education entry payment if they are enrolled in an approved course of education at an approved institution or if pensioner education supplement is payable.

 

Currently all recipients of education entry payment receive the full lump sum payment of $208 per year, regardless of their study load.

 

Schedule 2 amends the education entry payment provisions in Part 2.13A of the Social Security Act 1991 and Part VIIAA of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 .

 

The amendments made to these Acts by Schedule 2 better target education entry payment by tailoring the rate of payment to the study load undertaken by the student. This is intended to better reflect the costs students incur as part of their study. Students undertaking part-time study loads do not generally incur the same study costs as those undertaking full-time study loads and it is proposed the education entry payment rates reflect this. 

 

Four payment tiers will be introduced to determine a person’s rate of education entry payment and these are as follows:

 

  • $208 per annum (current rate) for study loads of 76% to 100% of the normal amount of full-time study;
  • $156 per annum (new rate) for study loads of 51% to 75%;
  • $104 per annum (new rate) for study loads of 26% to 50%; and
  • $52 per annum (new rate) for study loads of 25%.

The amendments made by Schedule 2 commence on 1 January 2018 if the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Act 2017 receives the Royal Assent before 1 January 2018. If this Act receives the Royal Assent on or after 1 January 2018, Schedule 2 will commence on the first 1 January or 1 July to occur after the day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

Explanation of the changes

 

 

Amendments to the Social Security Act

 

Item 1 inserts new Division 1A before Division 1 of Part 2.13A of the Act.  New Division 1A contains new section 665AA which provides a definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ for the purposes of Part 2.13A of the Act.

 

This new definition is to be used when determining what constitutes a ‘normal amount of full-time study’ for the purposes of new subsections 665V(2), 665ZD(2), 665ZM(2), 665ZR(2) and 665ZV(2) (see items 8, 11, 14, 17 and 20). 

 

New section 665AA provides that the ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in respect of a course is:

 

(a)           if:

 

(i)         the course is a course of study within the meaning of the Higher    Education Support Act 2003 ; and

(ii)        there are Commonwealth supported students (within the meaning of that Act) enrolled in the course;

 

                        the full time student load for the course; or

 

(b)           if the course is not such a course and the institution defines an amount of full time study that a full time student should typically undertake in respect of the course - the amount so defined; or

 

(c)        otherwise - an amount of full time study equivalent to the average amount of full time study that a person would have to undertake for the duration of the course in order to complete the course in the minimum amount of time needed to complete it.

 

The new definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in section 665AA uses the same language as the definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in subsection 1061PF(1) for the purposes of Part 2.24A of the Act (regarding pensioner education supplement).

 

Items 2, 3, 4, 5 and 12 repeal sections 665B, 665F, 665J, 665N, and 665ZFB and replace these with new sections.

 

These sections are the sections in Part 2.13A of the Act that determine the amount of education entry payment to be paid to eligible recipients of pension PP (single), disability support pension, widow B pension, special benefit and carer payment.

 

The amendments in items 2, 3, 4, 5 and 12 operate so that a recipient’s amount of education entry payment is determined based on the fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement payable to the recipient.

 

If the fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement payable to the person is $62.40 then the person is paid an education entry payment of $208.

 

If the fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement payable to the person is $46.80 then the person is paid an education entry payment of $156.

 

If the fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement payable to the person is $31.20 then the person is paid an education entry payment of $104.

 

If the fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement payable to the person is $15.60 then the person is paid an education entry payment of $52.

 

Item 6 repeals paragraph 665U(1)(a) and substitutes a new paragraph. Paragraph 665U(1)(a) currently provides that a recipient of newstart allowance qualifies for an education entry payment if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient enrols in or intends to enrol in a full-time course of education that is an approved course under the ABSTUDY scheme or an approved course of education or study for the purposes of paragraph 541B(1)(c) (Youth Allowance) or 569A(b) (Austudy). Item 6 ensures that a person must actually enrol in a course in order to satisfy the requirements in paragraph 665U(1)(a). Given that under the new education entry payment rate provision (see item 8) the recipient’s study load needs to be assessed when determining the amount of education entry payment to pay to the recipient, this assessment can only be made once the recipient has enrolled in the course and cannot be based on an intention to enrol in a course.

 

Item 7 repeals paragraph 665U(1)(d) and substitutes a new paragraph. New paragraph 665U(1)(d) provides that a newstart allowance recipient is qualified for an education entry payment under this section if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient has not received a payment under Part 2.13A of the Act for which the recipient made a claim in the current calendar year.

 

Item 8 repeals section 665V and substitutes a new section. This new section sets out a new formula for determining the amount of education entry payment (if any) to be paid to a recipient of newstart allowance.

 

The amount of an education entry payment for a recipient of newstart allowance is worked out using the table at the end of the new section and is based on the person’s study load.

 

To determine the person’s study load it is necessary to apply subsection 665V(2) to work out the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of

full-time study in respect of the course of education, the Secretary is satisfied that the person will be undertaking on the first day of the current calendar year the person undertakes study in that course. It is the person’s relevant percentage that determines the amount of the person’s education entry payment.

 

There is a note to new subsection 665V(2) that refers to the definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in new section 665AA. New section 665AA is set out in item 1.

 

Once the person’s relevant percentage has been determined the amount of education entry payment paid to the person is the corresponding amount in column 2 of the table at the end of section 665V.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 76% or more of the normal amount of full-time study the person will receive $208.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% the person will receive $156.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% the person will receive $104.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 25% the person will receive $52.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is less than 25% the person will not receive an education entry payment.

 

Item 9 repeals paragraph 665ZC(1)(a) and substitutes a new paragraph. Paragraph 665ZC(1)(a) currently provides that a recipient of widow allowance qualifies for an education entry payment if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient enrols in or intends to enrol in a full-time or part-time course of education that is an approved course under the ABSTUDY scheme. Item 9 ensures that a person must actually enrol in a course in order to satisfy the requirements in paragraph 665ZC(1)(a). Given that under the new education entry payment rate provision (see item 11) the recipient’s study load needs to be assessed when determining the amount of education entry payment to pay to the recipient, this assessment can only be made once the recipient has enrolled in the course and cannot be based on an intention to enrol in a course.

 

Item 10 repeals paragraph 665ZC(1)(c) and substitutes a new paragraph. New paragraph 665ZC(1)(c) provides that a widow allowance recipient is qualified for an education entry payment under this section if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient has not received a payment under Part 2.13A of the Act for which the recipient made a claim in the current calendar year.

 

Item 11 repeals section 665ZD and substitutes a new section. This new section sets out a new formula for determining the amount of education entry payment (if any) to be paid to a recipient of widow allowance.

 

The amount of an education entry payment for a recipient of widow allowance is worked out using the table at the end of the new section and is based on the person’s study load.

 

To determine the person’s study load it is necessary to apply subsection 665ZD(2) to work out the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course of education, the Secretary is satisfied that the person will be undertaking on the first day of the current calendar year the person undertakes study in that course. It is the person’s relevant percentage that determines the amount of the person’s education entry payment.

 

There is a note to new subsection 665ZD(2) that refers to the definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in new section 665AA. New section 665AA is set out in item 1.

 

Once the person’s relevant percentage has been determined the amount of education entry payment paid to the person is the corresponding amount in column 2 of the table at the end of section 665ZD.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 76% or more of the normal amount of full-time study the person will receive $208.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% the person will receive $156.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% the person will receive $104.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 25% the person will receive $52.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is less than 25% the person will not receive an education entry payment.

 

Item 13 repeals paragraph 665ZL(a) and substitutes a new paragraph. Paragraph 665ZL(a) currently provides that a recipient of wife pension qualifies for an education entry payment if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient enrols in or intends to enrol in a full-time or part-time course of education that is an approved course under the ABSTUDY scheme. Item 13 ensures that a person must actually enrol in a course in order to satisfy the requirements in paragraph 665ZL(a). Given that under the new education entry payment rate provision (see item 14) the recipient’s study load needs to be assessed when determining the amount of education entry payment to pay to the recipient, this assessment can only be made once the recipient has enrolled in the course and cannot be based on an intention to enrol in a course.

 

Item 14 repeals section 665ZM and substitutes a new section. This new section sets out a new formula for determining the amount of education entry payment (if any) to be paid to a recipient of wife pension.

 

The amount of an education entry payment for a recipient of wife pension is worked out using the table at the end of the new section and is based on the person’s study load.

 

To determine the person’s study load it is necessary to apply subsection 665ZM(2) to work out the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course of education, the Secretary is satisfied that the person will be undertaking on the first day of the current calendar year the person undertakes study in that course. It is the person’s relevant percentage that determines the amount of the person’s education entry payment.

 

There is a note to new subsection 665ZM(2) that refers to the definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in new section 665AA. New section 665AA is set out in item 1.

 

Once the person’s relevant percentage has been determined the amount of education entry payment paid to the person is the corresponding amount in column 2 of the table at the end of section 665ZM.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 76% or more of the normal amount of full-time study the person will receive $208.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% the person will receive $156.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% the person will receive $104.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 25% the person will receive $52.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is less than 25% the person will not receive an education entry payment.

 

Item 15 repeals paragraph 665ZQ(1)(a) and substitutes a new paragraph. Paragraph 665ZQ(1)(a) currently provides that a recipient of partner allowance qualifies for an education entry payment if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient enrols in or intends to enrol in a full-time course of education that is an approved course under the ABSTUDY scheme. Item 15 ensures that a person must actually enrol in a course in order to satisfy the requirements in paragraph 665ZQ(1)(a). Given that under the new education entry payment rate provision (see item 17) the recipient’s study load needs to be assessed when determining the amount of education entry payment to pay to the recipient, this assessment can only be made once the recipient has enrolled in the course and cannot be based on an intention to enrol in a course.

 

Item 16 repeals paragraph 665ZQ(1)(c) and substitutes a new paragraph. New paragraph 665ZQ(1)(c) provides that a partner allowance recipient is qualified for an education entry payment under this section if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient has not received a payment under Part 2.13A of the Act for which the recipient made a claim in the current calendar year.  

 

Item 17 repeals section 665ZR and substitutes a new section. This new section sets out a new formula for determining the amount of education entry payment (if any) to be paid to a recipient of partner allowance.

 

The amount of an education entry payment for a recipient of partner allowance is worked out using the table at the end of the new section and is based on the person’s study load.

 

To determine the person’s study load it is necessary to apply subsection 665ZR(2) to work out the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course of education, the Secretary is satisfied that the person will be undertaking on the first day of the current calendar year the person undertakes study in that course. It is the person’s relevant percentage that determines the amount of the person’s education entry payment.

 

There is a note to new subsection 665ZR(2) that refers to the definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in new section 665AA. New section 665AA is set out in item 1.

 

Once the person’s relevant percentage has been determined the amount of education entry payment paid to the person is the corresponding amount in column 2 of the table at the end of section 665ZR.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 76% or more of the normal amount of full-time study the person will receive $208.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% the person will receive $156.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% the person will receive $104.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 25% the person will receive $52.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is less than 25% the person will not receive an education entry payment.

 

Item 18 repeals paragraph 665ZU(1)(a) and substitutes a new paragraph. Paragraph 665ZU(1)(a) currently provides that a recipient of benefit PP (partnered) qualifies for an education entry payment if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient enrols in or intends to enrol in a full-time or part-time course of education that is an approved course under the AUSTUDY scheme or ABSTUDY scheme. Item 18 ensures that a person must actually enrol in a course in order to satisfy the requirements in paragraph 665ZU(1)(a). Given that under the new education entry payment rate provision (see item 20) the recipient’s study load needs to be assessed when determining the amount of education entry payment to pay to the recipient, this assessment can only be made once the recipient has enrolled in the course and cannot be based on an intention to enrol in a course.

 

New paragraph 665ZU(1)(a) also removes a redundant reference to the ‘AUSTUDY scheme’. This scheme no longer exists.

 

Item 19 repeals paragraph 665ZU(1)(c) and substitutes a new paragraph. New paragraph 665ZU(1)(c) provides that a benefit PP (partnered) recipient is qualified for an education entry payment under this section if (as well as satisfying other qualification requirements) the recipient has not received a payment under Part 2.13A of the Act for which the recipient made a claim in the current calendar year. 

 

Item 20 repeals section 665ZV and substitutes a new section. This new section sets out a new formula for determining the amount of education entry payment (if any) to be paid to a recipient of benefit PP (partnered).

 

The amount of an education entry payment for a recipient of benefit PP (partnered) is worked out using the table at the end of the new section and is based on the person’s study load.

 

To determine the person’s study load it is necessary to apply subsection 665ZV(2) to work out the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course of education, the Secretary is satisfied that the person will be undertaking on the first day of the current calendar year the person undertakes study in that course. It is the person’s relevant percentage that determines the amount of the person’s education entry payment.

 

There is a note to new subsection 665ZV(2) that refers to the definition of ‘normal amount of full-time study’ in new section 665AA. New section 665AA is set out in item 1.

 

Once the person’s relevant percentage has been determined the amount of education entry payment paid to the person is the corresponding amount in column 2 of the table at the end of section 665ZV.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 76% or more of the normal amount of full-time study the person will receive $208.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% the person will receive $156.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% the person will receive $104.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 25% the person will receive $52.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is less than 25% the person will not receive an education entry payment.

 

Item 21 is an application provision that provides the amendments made by this Schedule apply in relation to the following:

 

(a)       working out qualification for an education entry payment on or after the commencement of this item;

(b)       working out the amount of an education entry payment on or after the commencement of this item for a person who qualified for the payment on or after that commencement.

 

 

Amendments to the Veterans’ Entitlements Act

 

Item 22 amends section 118AA of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act.  Section 118AA sets out the criteria for a person to be eligible for an education entry payment.  For the education entry payment to be payable to a person, the conditions contained in both the Veterans’ Entitlements Act and the Social Security Act must be met.

 

The conditions are:

  • the person must be receiving (paragraph 118AA(a)):

o     a partner service pension; or

o     an invalidity service pension; or

o     an income support supplement (ISS).

 

In addition the person must:

  • be under pension age (paragraph 118AA(b)); and
  • be qualified (or would be qualified, except for the receipt of a similar payment) to receive the Pensioner Education Supplement (under the Social Security Act) (paragraph 118AA(c)); and
  • be enrolled or satisfy the Repatriation Commission that the person intends to enrol in either a full-time or part-time course of education which is an approved course under the Austudy scheme (paragraph 118AA(d)); and
  • have not already received an Education Entry Payment in the current calendar year (paragraph 118AA(e)).

 

Paragraph 118AA(d) is repealed and replaced.  New paragraph 118AA(d) requires the Repatriation Commission to be satisfied that the person is enrolled in either a full-time or part-time course of education which is an approved course under the Austudy scheme.

 

Item 23 is a formatting amendment to subsection 118AAC(1) to insert the heading “Entitlement”.

 

Item 24 repeals subsection 118AAC(2) and substitutes new subsections 118AAC(2), (3), (4) and (5).

 

Repealed subsection 118AAC(2) had referred to the amount of the education entry payment being “$208”.

 

New subsection 118AAC(2) provides that the amount of the education entry payment will be determined using the table set out in the section (new subsection 118AAC(4)) which is based on the person’s study load.

 

New subsection 118AAC(3) provides for the determination by the Repatriation Commission of the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course of education, the Repatriation Commission is satisfied that the person will be undertaking on the first day of the current calendar year the person undertakes study in that course. It is the person’s relevant percentage that determines the amount of the person’s education entry payment.

 

There is a note to new subsection 118AAC(3) that refers to the definition of “normal amount of full-time study” in new subsection 118AAC(5).

 

Once the person’s relevant percentage has been determined the amount of education entry payment paid to the person is the corresponding amount in column 2 of the table at the end of subsection 118AAC(4).

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 76% or more the person will receive $208.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% the person will receive $156.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% the person will receive $104.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is 25% the person will receive $52.

 

If the person’s relevant percentage is less than 25% the person will not receive an education entry payment.

 

New subsection 118AAC(5) refers to the definition of “normal amount of full time study” as having the same meaning as in Part 2.13A of the Social Security Act (set out in new section 665AA (as inserted by Item 1 of this Schedule).

 

Item 25 repeals section 118AAD.  Section 118AAD is redundant as it had provided for the repayment of the education entry payment in the circumstances where it had been paid on the basis that the eligible person had intended to enrol in a course.

 

With the repeal and substitution of paragraph 118AA(d), the payment is no longer made on that basis.

 

Item 26 is an application and saving provision.  Sub-item 26(1) provides that the amendments to the Veterans’ Entitlements Act made by this Schedule apply in relation to the following:

 

(a)       working out eligibility for an education entry payment on or after the commencement of this item;

(b)       working out the amount of an education entry payment on or after the commencement of this item for a person who is eligible for the payment on or after that commencement.

 

Sub-item 26(2) provides that despite the repeal of section 118AAD (by Item 25 of this Schedule) the section will continue to apply on or after the commencement of the amendments in relation to a claim for an education entry payment made before that day.

 

 

 

 



Schedule 3 - Pensioner education supplement

Summary  

Schedule 3 implements part of the 2017-18 Budget measure Aligning the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment .                                                                         

The amendments made by this schedule will better align pensioner education supplement fortnightly rates with a person’s study load. The schedule will also ensure that payments of pensioner education supplement will cease during semester breaks and holiday periods.

Background

 

In broad terms, the pensioner education supplement assists people receiving certain income support payments with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study.

 

The pensioner education supplement was introduced to assist long-term income support recipients improve their skills and training to be more competitive in the labour market.

 

The pensioner education supplement is currently $62.40 per fortnight or $31.20 per fortnight depending on the person’s study load and income support payment type.

 

Schedule 3 amends Part 2.24A of the Social Security Act 1991 to better align rates of payment with the person’s actual study load. Pensioner education supplement fortnightly rates will be better aligned with the study loads undertaken by eligible students and four payment tiers will be introduced. These four payments tiers are as follows:

 

  • $62.40 per fortnight (current rate) for study loads of 76% to 100% of the normal amount of full-time study;
  • $46.80 per fortnight (new rate) for study loads of 51% to 75%;
  • $31.20 per fortnight (current part rate) for study loads of 26% to 50%; and
  • $15.60 per fortnight (new rate) for study loads of 25%.

 

The amendments made by this schedule will also ensure that payments of pensioner education supplement will cease during semester breaks and holiday periods.

 

Pensioner education supplement is currently paid during semester breaks and end of year holidays, as well as during study periods. The amendments made by this schedule will ensure that payments will only be made within these study periods.

 

For vacation periods between study periods and vacation periods within a study period the person will no longer be paid the supplement. Payment of the pensioner education supplement will resume once the person resumes their studies (provided they are otherwise qualified).

 

The amendments made by Schedule 3 commence on 1 January 2018 if the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Act 2017 receives the Royal Assent before 1 January 2018. If this Act receives the Royal Assent on or after 1 January 2018, Schedule 3 will commence on the first 1 January or 1 July to occur after the day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

The changes to the Pensioner Education Supplement will also apply to Pensioner Education Supplement payments made under the ABSTUDY Scheme and the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme. Amendments will be made to the ABSTUDY Policy Manual and the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme Guidelines.

 

 

Explanation of the changes

 

 

Amendments to the Social Security Act

 

Item 1 repeals subsections 1061PB(3) to (5) and replaces these with new subsections 1061PB(3) and (4). These new subsections amend the definition of ‘undertaking qualifying study’ for the purposes of determining whether a person qualifies for pensioner education supplement.

 

New subsections 1061PB(3) and (4) amend the definition of ‘undertaking qualifying study’ to ensure that a person is only paid pensioner education supplement for a course (being a course referred to in paragraph 1061PB(1)(b) of the definition of ‘undertaking qualifying study’) for those days that fall within a study period (for example, a semester).

 

New subsection 1061PB(3) provides that a person is not undertaking qualifying study on a day if the day does not fall within a study period (such as, for example, a semester) for the course referred to in paragraph 1061PB(1)(b) of the definition of ‘undertaking qualifying study’.

 

New subsection 1061PB(4) provides that a person is not undertaking qualifying study on a day if the day falls within a period of vacation that occurs during a study period (such as, for example, a semester) for the course referred to in paragraph 1061PB(1)(b) of the definition of ‘undertaking qualifying study’.

 

Item 2 repeals section 1061PZG and substitutes a new section. New section 1061PZG inserts a new rate provision for determining the fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement.

 

New section 1061PZG ensures that a person’s rate of pensioner education supplement is determined by their study load.

 

New subsection 1061PZG(1) provides that a person’s rate of pensioner education supplement is a daily rate worked out by dividing the person’s fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement by 14.

 

New subsection 1061PZG(2) provides that a person’s fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement is worked out using the table at the end of new section 1061PZG.

 

Before turning to this table it is necessary to apply subsection 1061PZG(3) to work out the percentage (the relevant percentage ), of the normal amount of full-time study (within the meaning of section 1061PF of the Act) in respect of the course concerned, the person is undertaking.

 

Once the relevant percentage has been worked out under subsection 1061PZG(3), the table at the end of new section 1061PZG sets out the rate of pensioner education supplement paid to the person.

 

For a person whose relevant percentage is 76% or more of the normal amount of full-time study their rate of pensioner education supplement will be $62.40 per fortnight.

 

For a person whose relevant percentage is 51% or more but less than 76% their rate of pensioner education supplement will be $46.80 per fortnight.

 

For a person whose relevant percentage is more than 25% but less than 51% their rate of pensioner education supplement will be $31.20 per fortnight.

 

For a person whose relevant percentage is 25% their rate of pensioner education supplement will be $15.60 per fortnight.

 

A person whose relevant percentage is less than 25% cannot be paid any pensioner education supplement.

 

Item 3 is an application provision that provides the amendments made by this Schedule apply in relation to working out qualification for, or the rate of, pensioner education supplement in relation to days occurring on or after the commencement of this item.



STATEMENTS OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the

Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BETTER TARGETING STUDENT PAYMENTS) BILL 2017

 

Schedule 1 - Relocation Scholarship Payment

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

This Schedule will, from 1 January 2018, restrict access to the Relocation Scholarship for Youth Allowance (student) recipients:

  • whose parental family home or usual place of residence is located in Australia. Students whose parental family home or usual place of residence is located outside of Australia will no longer be eligible for the Relocation Scholarship.
  • studying in Australia. Students will no longer receive the Relocation Scholarship to relocate to undertake part of their Australian courses outside of Australia.

 

Where a student’s parents return to Australia to live or the student returns to Australia to continue studying after undertaking part of their course outside of Australia, the student’s eligibility for the Relocation Scholarship will be retested and depending on the circumstances, the student may become eligible for the Scholarship.

Dependent Youth Allowance recipients receiving the Relocation Scholarship prior to the commencement of this measure with a parental home outside of Australia will continue to receive the Relocation Scholarship after this date if, on the day they started their current course their parental home was outside of Australia. Similarly, independent Youth Allowance recipients will continue to receive the Relocation Scholarship if they received a Scholarship prior to the commencement of this measure and six months before they started their course, their usual place of residence was outside of Australia. 

These changes will also apply to ABSTUDY Living Allowance and will be reflected in the ABSTUDY Policy Manual.

The Relocation Scholarship is a supplementary payment for students in receipt of Youth Allowance. The purpose of the Relocation Scholarship is primarily to assist students from regional or remote areas of Australia moving away from home to study. This is in recognition that regional and remote students face additional costs in pursuing tertiary education and have much lower participation rates in higher education than students from major cities of Australia.

Human rights implications

This Schedule engages the following human rights:

Right to social security

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

The right to social security requires that a system be established under domestic law, and that public authorities must take responsibility for the effective administration of the system. The social security system must provide a minimum essential level of benefits to all individuals and families that will enable them to cover essential living costs.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights (the Committee) has stated that a social security scheme should be sustainable and that the conditions for benefits must be reasonable, proportionate and transparent (see General Comment No.19).

Article 4 of ICESCR provides that countries may limit the rights such as to social security in a way determined by law only in so far as this may be compatible with the nature of the rights contained within the ICESCR and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society. Such a limitation must be proportionate to the objective to be achieved.

To the extent that there is an impact on a person’s right to social security by virtue of Schedule 1, the impact is limited.

Under this Schedule, the Relocation Scholarship will be restricted to students relocating within and studying in Australia.

Eligibility for the Relocation Scholarship will be retested if a student’s parents return to Australia to live or the student returns to Australia after studying outside of Australia. Depending on the circumstances, the student may become eligible for the Scholarship. 

Whilst students with a parental home or usual place of residence outside of Australia and students studying part of their Australian course outside of Australia will no longer qualify for the Relocation Scholarship, this Schedule will not affect their qualification for Youth Allowance.

Youth Allowance is a means-tested payment available for people aged 16-24 and undertaking full-time study or training. It is a fortnightly payment designed to assist with the living costs associated with study and to encourage young people to undertake education and training. Students living away from home receive a higher rate of payment than those students living at home. In 2017, students living away from home may receive up to $437.50 per fortnight, compared to $288.10 per fortnight for students living at home.

This Schedule will also not affect students from receiving Youth Allowance whilst studying outside of Australia. Currently, students undertaking study outside of Australia as part of an Australian course may be paid Youth Allowance for the entire period of the overseas study as long as the study can be credited towards their Australian course

The purpose of this Schedule is to simplify and streamline the delivery of the Relocation Scholarship and to better reflect the policy intent of the Scholarship. The payment of the Relocation Scholarship to students with a parental family home or usual place of residence outside of Australia was an unintended consequence of changes made to the Relocation Scholarship in 2015. These changes restricted access to the Scholarship to students relocating to or from regional or remote areas to study.

The Relocation Scholarship is a supplementary payment for dependent (and some independent) Youth Allowance recipients who are required to live away from home to undertake higher education studies. It is designed to assist with the costs of establishing new accommodation. The student must be receiving at least $1 of Youth Allowance in order to qualify for the Relocation Scholarship, which is an annual lump sum payment paid whilst the student remains qualified.

The rate of the Scholarship paid to a qualified student, depends on their circumstances. In 2017, students receive $4,376 in their first year of study and $1,094 in each following year. In recognition of the additional costs of study, students from regional and remote areas each receive $2,189 in their second and third years of study. 

In 2016, approximately 23,000 students received a Relocation Scholarship. It is estimated that fewer than 300 students per year with parental homes outside of Australia will no longer be able to access the Relocation Scholarship under this measure and fewer than 150 students per year studying outside of Australia will no longer be able to access the Relocation Scholarship.

Right to education

Article 13 of the ICESCR recognises the right of everyone to education.

To the extent that there is an impact on a person’s right to education by virtue of Schedule 1, the impact is limited.

While this Schedule may affect a person’s ability to access the Relocation Scholarship to assist with the costs of relocating to study, it will not affect their qualification for Youth Allowance.

This Schedule will also not affect these students ability to access the Student

Start-up Loan which assists with the upfront costs of study, such as text books, course equipment, and internet access. A student can receive up to two Student Start-up Loans per calendar year for the duration of their course, whilst they continue to qualify and apply for the Loans. In 2017, the value of each Loan is $1,035.

Right to work

Article 6 of the ICESCR recognises the right to work, which includes the availability of technical and vocation guidance and training programs to achieve full and productive employment.

To the extent that Schedule 1 impacts a person’s right to work, the impact is limited.

As per above in the explanation of a person’s right to education, whilst this Schedule may affect a person’s ability to access the Relocation Scholarship to assist with the costs of relocating to study, it will not affect their qualification for Youth Allowance. Youth Allowance (student) is a fortnightly payment designed to assist and encourage young people to undertake education and training.

Discrimination on the basis of ‘other status’

Article 2(2) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. ‘Other status’ can include a group that is clearly identified.

While the Schedule makes a distinction in qualification for the Relocation Scholarship based on the location of the student’s parental home or usual place of residence and their study location, it will help to simplify the administration of the payment. It will also better reflect the policy intent of the Relocation Scholarship, which is to assist students relocating within Australia, particularly students moving from or to regional and remote areas to study.

Qualification requirements for Youth Allowance and subsequently the Relocation Scholarship require the person to be an Australian resident. This means the person must reside in Australia and are either an Australian citizen, hold a permanent visa or hold a protected special category visa. People who do not meet this criteria are not eligible for the Relocation Scholarship and will not be affected by this Schedule.

Conclusion

The amendments in the Schedule are compatible with human rights because they do not limit access to social security or education.

 



Schedule 2 - Education Entry Payment

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

In broad terms, the education entry payment assists with education expenses, and is paid once a calendar year to eligible recipients. Recipients of certain social security payments and payments administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs may qualify for education entry payment if they are enrolled in an approved course of education at an approved institution or if pensioner education supplement is payable. Currently all recipients of education entry payment receive the full lump sum payment of $208 per year, regardless of their study load.

 

Schedule 2 will better target education entry payment by tailoring the rate of payment to the study load undertaken by the student. This is intended to better reflect the costs students incur as part of their study. Four payment tiers will be introduced to determine a person’s rate of education entry payment and these are as follows:

 

  • $208 per annum (current rate) for study loads of 76% to 100% of the normal amount of full time study;
  • $156 per annum (new rate) for study loads of 51% to 75%;
  • $104 per annum (new rate) for study loads of 26% to 50%; and
  • $52 per annum (new rate) for study loads of 25%.

The amendments made by Schedule 2 commence on 1 January 2018 if the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Act 2017 receives the Royal Assent before 1 January 2018. If this Act receives the Royal Assent on or after 1 January 2018, Schedule 2 will commence on the first 1 January or 1 July to occur after the day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

Human Rights Implications

This Schedule engages the following human rights:

Right to social security

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

The right to social security requires that a system be established under domestic law, and that public authorities must take responsibility for the effective administration of the system. The social security system must provide a minimum essential level of benefits to all individuals and families that will enable them to cover essential living costs.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights (the Committee) has stated that a social security scheme should be sustainable and that the conditions for benefits must be reasonable, proportionate and transparent (see General Comment No.19).

Article 4 of ICESCR provides that countries may limit the rights such as to social security in a way determined by law only in so far as this may be compatible with the nature of the rights contained within the ICESCR and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society. Such a limitation must be proportionate to the objective to be achieved.

To the extent that there is an impact on a person’s right to social security by virtue of Schedule 2, the impact is limited.

This measure does not change a person’s access to the education entry payment. The amendments in this measure reduce the amount of the education entry payment for eligible income support recipients who are studying 75 per cent or less of the normal amount of full-time study. The education entry payment is an additional annual supplement paid to recipients of newstart allowance, partner allowance, widow allowance, widow B pension, wife pension, parenting payment (single and partnered), disability support pension, carer payment, special benefit, partner service pension and invalidity service pension. The education entry payment is specifically targeted to assist with the up-front costs of education and training for those who are enrolling or commencing in an approved course of study.

Reducing the amount of the education entry payment for part-time students does not limit or affect access to the right to social security. The education entry payment is not an ongoing primary social security payment to meet the regular cost of living but rather a supplement designed to assist individuals with the up-front costs of education/training on an annual basis, paid on top of a recipient’s primary payment.  An individual’s entitlement to primary social security or Veterans’ Affairs payments, and other benefits, will not be affected by the amendments in Schedule 2.

To the extent that the amendments reduce a recipient’s overall support, this is proportionate to achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system.

Right to education

Article 13 of the ICESCR recognises the right of everyone to education.

This measure does not change a person’s access to education entry payment. The impact of the reduction in the rate of education entry payment for part-time students on individuals is minor (reductions of $52, $104 or $156 per annum depending on study load). It does not affect a person’s entitlement to other ongoing payments or programs designed to support individuals to engage in education. This measure is aimed at achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system through more appropriate levels of additional education support.

The Australian Government provides other payments and programs to assist students, including:

  • Income support payments specifically designed to assist and encourage people to undertake education and training. These payments are Austudy, Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY.
  • Students who are enrolling in a Commonwealth Supported Place for a university level qualification (that is, undergraduate level) can access a HECS-HELP loan to pay their student contribution amount. Students accessing this loan are required to pay their debt through the tax system when they earn above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.
  • Eligible students who are enrolling in a higher-level vocational education and training (VET) qualification are able to access VET Student Loans, a loan scheme which assists eligible students, enrolled with an approved provider in an approved diploma-level or above course, to pay their tuition fees.
  • FEE-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students in non-Commonwealth Supported Places (for example, post-graduate level courses at university) pay all or part of their tuition fees.
  • Eligible students who access any of the above loans can borrow up to the FEE-HELP limit to pay their fees and do not have to repay the loan until their income meets the minimum repayment threshold.

Consequently, the reduction in the amount of education entry payment for part time students is reasonable in that access to other payments and support mechanisms to allow individuals to undertake study remains.

Right to work

Article 6 of the ICESCR recognises the right to work, which includes the availability of technical and vocational guidance and training programs to achieve full and productive employment.

To the extent that Schedule 2 impacts on a person’s right to work, the impact is limited.

Whilst this Schedule may affect a person’s annual rate of education entry payment, the amendments will not affect their qualification for education entry payment or qualification for their primary income support payment or access to any employment assistance.

Conclusion

The Schedule is compatible with human rights because it does not limit the basic right to social security or the right to work, and any impact on the right to education is balanced with other financial support for students.  The measure is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary response to achieve the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system.



Schedule 3 - Pensioner Education Supplement

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

In broad terms, the pensioner education supplement assists students with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study. The pensioner education supplement was introduced to assist long-term income support recipients improve their skills and training to be more competitive in the labour market.

The amendments made by this schedule will better align pensioner education supplement fortnightly rates with a person’s study load. Four payment tiers will be introduced as follows:

  • $62.40 per fortnight (current full rate) for study loads of 76% to 100% of the normal amount of full-time study;
  • $46.80 per fortnight (new rate) for study loads of 51% to 75%;
  • $31.20 per fortnight (current part rate) for study loads of 26% to 50%; and
  • $15.60 per fortnight (new rate) for study loads of 25%.

 

Pensioner education supplement is currently paid during semester breaks and end of year holidays, as well as during study periods. The amendments made by this schedule will ensure that payments will only be made within these study periods. For vacation periods between study periods and vacation periods within a study period the person will no longer be paid the supplement. Payment of the pensioner education supplement will resume once the person resumes their studies (provided they are otherwise qualified).

 

The changes to the Pensioner Education Supplement will also apply to Pensioner Education Supplement payments made under the ABSTUDY Scheme and the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme. Amendments will be made to the ABSTUDY Policy Manual and the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme Guidelines.

 

Human rights implications

The Schedule engages the following human rights:

Right to social security

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

The pensioner education supplement is available to certain recipients of social security payments and payments under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 who are undertaking qualifying study to assist with the ongoing costs associated with study.  Qualifying study includes secondary courses, tertiary courses, open learning, certificate courses, bachelor degrees, advanced certificate courses, graduate certificate courses, graduate diplomas and degrees, master qualifying courses or approved masters by coursework programs.

The amendments in this Schedule reduce the amount of the pensioner education supplement for some part-time students. The reduced rates of the pensioner education supplement do not limit or affect access to the right to social security. The pensioner education supplement is not a primary social security payment to meet the regular cost of living but rather a supplement designed to assist with some of the ongoing costs associated with study, paid on top of a recipient’s primary payment.  An individual’s entitlement to primary social security payments, and other benefits, will not be affected by the changes to the rates of the pensioner education supplement.

To the extent that the changes to the rates of pensioner education supplement and not paying the supplement during study breaks may reduce a recipient’s overall support, this is proportionate to achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system.

Right to education

Article 13 of the ICESCR recognises the right of everyone to education.

This measure does not change a person’s access to the pensioner education supplement. The impact of reduced rates of pensioner education supplement for some part- time students is minor (reductions of $15.60, $31.20 or $46.80 per fortnight depending on study load and no payments during study breaks when a student is generally not incurring additional ongoing study costs). It does not affect a person’s entitlement to other ongoing payments and programs designed to support individuals to engage in education. This measure is aimed at achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system through more appropriate levels of education support.

The Australian Government provides other payments and programs to assist students, including:

  • Income support payments specifically designed to assist and encourage people to undertake education and training. These payments are Austudy, Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY.
  • Students who are enrolling in a Commonwealth Supported Place for a university level qualification (that is, undergraduate level) can access a HECS-HELP loan to pay their student contribution amount. Students accessing this loan are required to pay their debt through the tax system when they earn above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.
  • Eligible students who are enrolling in a higher-level vocational education and training (VET) qualification are able to access VET Student Loans, a loan scheme which assists eligible students, enrolled with an approved provider in an approved diploma-level or above course, to pay their tuition fees.
  • FEE-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students in non-Commonwealth Supported Places (for example, post-graduate level courses at university) pay all or part of their tuition fees.
  • Eligible students who access any of the above loans can borrow up to the FEE-HELP limit to pay their fees and do not have to repay the loan until their income meets the minimum repayment threshold.

Consequently, the reduction in the amount of pensioner education supplement for some part-time students is reasonable in that access to other payments and support mechanisms to allow individuals to undertake study remains.

Right to work

Article 6 of the ICESCR recognises the right to work, which includes the availability of technical and vocational guidance and training programs to achieve full and productive employment.

To the extent that Schedule 3 impacts on a person’s right to work, the impact is limited.

Whilst this Schedule may affect a person’s fortnightly rate of pensioner education supplement, the amendments will not affect their qualification for pensioner education supplement or qualification for their primary income support payment or access to any employment assistance.

Conclusion

The Schedule is compatible with human rights because it does not limit the basic right to social security or the right to work, and any impact on the right to education is balanced with other financial support for students. The measure is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary response to achieve the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system.

[Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP]