A federal government initiative, ParentsNext is a support program targeted at those receiving a parenting payment AND whose youngest child is not yet at school.
The aim of the program is to help parents of young children identify, plan and achieve education or employment goals by linking them with local services and supports. Overseen by the Department of Jobs and Small Business the program, which was previously being piloted in 10 locations, is being rolled out nationwide as of July 2018.
If you meet the following criteria your participation in ParentsNext will be compulsory:
- you have received Parenting Payment for the last six months
- you have not had employment earnings during this period, and
- you have a child aged between six months and six years.
There are two streams as part of the ParentsNext program – Intensive and Targeted. These streams depend on your geographic location.
If you have been contacted by Centrelink regarding the program, your participation is compulsory regardless of what stream you are in. However, if you are in an area under the Intensive stream and have not been contacted about it, you can volunteer for the program.
What Does It Involve?
The ParentsNext program requires you to meet with a local provider to discuss your plans for the future. Providers are community support services and employment agencies such a Mission Australia.
While the program acknowledges parenting is a priority, providers are focused on your education and work goals with the view to employment after all of your children are at school. Providers may be able to link you with courses, additional funding or job seeker support in your area.
You will need to meet compulsory participation and reporting tasks set by Centrelink and your provider to ensure your payments are not suspended. These tasks will be outlined in a Participation Plan and may be around accessing support services, personal or professional development, financial management or practical work readiness tasks.
Note that if you are self-employed and provide Centrelink with an annual income estimate, the system does not recognise your fortnightly earnings and you will automatically be entered into the program. You can apply for an exemption but will need to meet with the local ParentsNext provider to discuss your options.