Payments to keep teens at school

FAMILIES with teenagers aged 16 to 19 who receive Centrelink assistance will notice a boost to their fortnightly payments.

The Federal Government has invested $770 million to span five years to encourage parents to keep their teenagers in school.

What was formerly a maximum payment of $52.64 each fortnight for 16 and 17-year-olds will now potentially reach $214.06.

The new rule also applies tor those up to 19-years old.

Minister for Families Jenny Macklin said the increase would encourage parents to urge their children to complete high school.

"We all know teenagers don't cost less once they turn 16. If anything they cost more, which is why we're making this change," Ms Macklin said.

The change is to help families afford their child's education as they begin their senior schooling.

"There are about 630,000 families across Australia with a teenager turning 16 within the next five years who stand to benefit from this increase, if their child stays in school or a vocational training equivalent," Ms Macklin said.

"This change will provide parents with that extra financial support to ensure their older teenagers achieve the best chance at getting a good job."

Those who already receive Family Tax Benefit will automatically have their payments adjusted.

Ms Macklin said evidence showed teenagers who completed their schooling years or a trade were better off in the long run.

"We want all children to stay in school or get school-based apprenticeships to give them the best chance at getting a good job," she said.

"In 2006, Year 12 completion rates were 59% for students from low-income homes, compared with 78% for higher-income students.

"These findings indicate that the costs of educating teenage children are an important barrier for families on low incomes to support their child's education," Ms Macklin said.

She said those who were receiving Youth Allowance may benefit more with the new changes to the Family Tax Benefit and should check their eligibility.

The maximum fortnightly increase for those on the Family Tax Benefit can reach $161.42, and annually, up to $4208.45.

For more information, visit the Family Assistance Office at www.familyassist.gov.au, call the Family Assistance Office on 13 6150, or visit a Centrelink office.

Eligibility

Depending on the family's income, Family Tax Benefit Part A was automatically adjusted on January 1 for families receiving the payment for a dependent child who:

Is at least 16 years old, and had not turned 19 years old before January 1, 2012.

Is in full-time secondary study.

Also from January 1, families may be eligible to receive Rent Assistance if they have a child aged 16 to 19 years who is in full-time secondary study.


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