- have school age students who live in an isolated area, or
- a school age child with a disability or special health need that cannot be met at a local state school
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
You may be eligible for Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments if you and the student meet residence requirements and the student meets the following:
- age requirements
- the minimum primary school entry age for the state or territory in which they will be going to school, or
- aged 3 years and 6 months or older and have a health related condition including a disability and need special education because the condition requires them to live away from home
- younger than 19 years of age at 1 January in the year of study and they are a primary or secondary student
- younger than 20 years of age at 1 January and their education has been seriously disrupted, for example because of illness or language difficulties
- a student younger than 21 years of age who is on Disability Support Pension or Parenting Payment single and studying at primary or ungraded level, or
- a tertiary student under the minimum age that their state or territory requires them to participate in education
- approved studies
- undertaking full time primary or secondary approved studies at an approved institution, or
- a school aged student who does not have access to a state secondary school but is instead enrolled in approved full time tertiary vocational education and training, for example a TAFE course
- geographical isolation or special needs
- your family home is geographically isolated from an appropriate state school
- the student has a disability or a special health related or educational need that cannot be met at a local state school
- the student does not have reasonable daily access to state schooling for at least 20 school days in a year for reasons beyond the family’s control, or
- the student is not geographically isolated but they do not have reasonable daily access to state schooling
- living arrangements during the school term
- boarding away from home at a school or hostel or privately
- living in the family’s second home so they can go to school daily, or
- living at home and undertaking distance education, approved home schooling or attending a Northern Territory Homeland Learning Centre
Payment rates for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
There are 4 types of payment rates for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme.
Adjustments to payment rates, except for Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement, are made in line with increases in the cost of living (Consumer Price Index). Payment rates are adjusted on 1 January each year.
|Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme allowance||Maximum payment rate|
|Boarding Allowance (Basic and Additional)||
$9,407 per year, made up of 2 components:
|Second Home Allowance||$230.02 per fortnight, per student - limited to a maximum of 3 students in a family|
|Distance Education Allowance||$3,948 per year|
|Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement||$62.40 per fortnight - for students aged under 21 years receiving Disability Support Pension or Parenting Payment single and studying at primary level|
Payments are usually paid to the parent or carer, however you can choose to have your payments paid directly to the student’s school or the boarding provider.
If the student is boarding, parents and carers may also qualify for the Additional Boarding Allowance. This allowance is income tested. Whether you can claim this allowance depends on your income and your child’s boarding costs. The payment rate may depend on the number of other dependent children in your family who are also eligible for the Additional Boarding Allowance, Youth Allowance, or ABSTUDY.
Read more about the parental income test.
Payment frequency for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
Payments are either made per term or per fortnight depending on which payment you are receiving.
Payments made 4 times a year in advance are:
- Boarding Allowance and Additional Boarding Allowance for students boarding at a school, hostel or special institution
- Distance Education Allowance
- Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement for students boarding at a school, hostel or special institution
Payments made fortnightly are:
- Boarding Allowance and Additional Boarding Allowance for students who board privately
- Second Home Allowance
- Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement for students who board privately
Effect on existing payments while receiving Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme support
Assistance for Isolated Children payments cannot be paid for a student who is on another payment, such as Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY, or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans’ Children Education Scheme payments.
Some students turning 16 years old may be eligible for assistance under the Away from Home rate of Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY instead of continued assistance from this scheme and Family Tax Benefit.
Families receiving Assistance for Isolated Children and Family Tax Benefit for a student will generally receive more from these payments than the student would by claiming the Youth Allowance Away from Home rate and Rent Assistance.
Parental income test for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
Under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme, only the Additional Boarding Allowance is income tested.
Residence requirements for Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
To be eligible for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme you must satisfy residence requirements. You and the student you are claiming for must be normally living in Australia and be:
- an Australian citizen
- the holder of a permanent resident visa, or
- a New Zealand citizen who is permanently settled in Australia (a waiting period may apply)
Other benefits while receiving Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
If you qualify for the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme, you may be entitled to other payments and benefits, such as:
Before you start
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start this claim.
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- register an intent to claim
- complete the claim form
- submit your claim and supporting documentation
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
Change of circumstances while receiving Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments
We review your circumstances annually to ensure you are getting the correct payment amount. If your or your family’s circumstances change this may affect your eligibility or change your payment amount.
You need to tell us if you or your child’s circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example, if:
- you receive the Additional Boarding Allowance and your or your partner's income increases or the student's boarding charges increase
- the student stops boarding or living in the second home
- the student stops studying, reduces their study load, or changes their education institution
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address or the student changes their term address
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- the care arrangements for the student change
- you or the child leave Australia on a permanent basis
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days your payment may be affected. You may be overpaid benefits and you will probably have to pay the money back.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud, and a recovery fee may be imposed.
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme while travelling outside Australia
If you or your child leaves Australia to live in another country, your payment under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme will stop on departure.
If you leave Australia temporarily you can continue being paid for up to 2 years as long as your child continues to meet the eligibility criteria.
If your child travels overseas and:
- is on an approved international exchange program where the study is credited to their Australian course, remains enrolled at an Australian education institution and continues to incur the costs in Australia for which the allowance is paid, you can keep your payment for the duration of their overseas study, or
- is enrolled at an approved Australian distance education institution and studying full time outside Australia for less than 12 months, you can keep your payment for 12 months
Advising us of your travel outside Australia
You should tell us if you or your children are leaving Australia and:
- will be away for longer than 6 weeks, or
- your child is studying outside Australia as part of a full time Australian course
Otherwise you do not need to tell us if you are leaving Australia. We will be advised automatically by Australia's immigration department when you leave Australia and when you return.
What to do if your account is overdrawn
There is support available to help you manage your money if you have overdrawn your bank, building society or credit union account.