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Thursday, 11 March 2004
Page: 21398

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) (3:03 PM) —I wish to add to an answer I gave to Senator Ridgeway yesterday regarding crisis payment and Abstudy recipients. Under the Social Security Act, crisis payment is available to persons in receipt of a social security pension or benefit. Because Abstudy living allowance is not paid under the Social Security Act, crisis payment is not available to recipients of an Abstudy living allowance. Abstudy is a package of assistance for Indigenous students paid under policy guidelines issued by the Minister for Education, Science and Training. The package includes a range of payments designed to cater for the students' individual circumstances. Persons receiving support under Abstudy also have access to rent assistance, remote area allowance and pharmaceutical benefits as paid under the Social Security Act. I am advised that Centrelink is undertaking community consultations on the operation of the crisis payment, and the issue of its application to Abstudy students has been raised. Centrelink will be providing the findings of its consultation to the Department of Family and Community Services and, through them, to me for consideration.