Changes to the family assets test and family actual means test set to be introduced on January 1 next year have been welcomed by Nationals WA Member for the South West Colin Holt MLC.
The changes to legislation, passed through Federal Parliament yesterday, will offer greater support to regional families with dependent children receiving youth payments under Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY Living Allowance and the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme.
Mr Holt said removing the family assets test would allow eligible families with dependent children in regional and rural WA access average annual payments of more than $7000.
“The passing of this legislation has resulted in a much fairer measure of family income than the existing system, including scrapping the family assets test,” he said.
“Removal of the family actual means test will also offer increased payments for some WA students by approximately $2000 per year”.
“Many remote and regional families live and operate in asset rich environments but generating income and family situations can sometimes be complex, which under the current system can deny or limit access to youth assistance payments.”
The changes are part of the Social Security Amendment (More Generous Means Testing for Youth Payments) Bill 2015.
From July 1, 2016 they also include altering Youth Allowance parental income testing arrangements to all Family Tax Benefit (FTB) eligible children, not only those over 16.
Working families with dependent children in both the FTB and youth payment schemes may be eligible for an increase in fortnightly payments by more than $40 and those who currently miss out on youth payments due to higher taper rates may be eligible for fortnightly payment increases up to $50.
Mr Holt singled out the hard work of Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie for her advocacy of the upcoming social services changes.
“Senator McKenzie was instrumental in urging the Interdepartmental Committee on Access to Higher Education for Regional and Remote Students to examine issues and ways to improve access to education for regional and remote students,” he said.
“These changes are great news for regional families in WA, boosting the number of families able to access assistance, increasing the level of assistance and encouraging more young people to pursue study options to build their careers.”
For media enquiries please contact the office of Colin Holt MLC on (08) 9724 1181.