Services to the community-Social Security and welfare

Performance against key performance indicators

The department supports individuals, families and communities to achieve greater self-sufficiency by providing access to a range of payments and services. This includes payments to support retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, parents, students, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians.

Table 2: Total number of social security and welfare claims, granted and rejected, by major payment type1
Payment type 2012-132 2013-142 2014-15
Family Tax Benefit 643,000 622,000 591,000
Parental Leave Pay 218,000 241,000 270,000
Baby Bonus3 197,000 141,000 15,000
Child Care Benefit 300,000 317,000 300,000
Dad and Partner Pay 39,400 90,000 89,000
Parenting Payment 146,000 146,000 171,000
Newstart Allowance 637,000 647,000 671,000
Carer Payment and Carer Allowance 232,000 267,000 242,000
Disability Support Pension 126,000 141,000 112,000
Age Pension 149,000 153,000 174,000
Youth Allowance and Austudy 468,000 475,000 496,000

1. Numbers in this table have been rounded.

2. 2012-13 and 2013-14 numbers have been updated to include abridged claims to reflect the total number of Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment, Youth Allowance and Austudy claims handled. Abridged claims are a shortened version of a claim used when a person who had recently lost qualification for a payment reapplies.

3. Baby Bonus was replaced by other payments on 28 February 2014. Parents of children who were born before 1 March 2014 had up to 52 weeks to make a claim for Baby Bonus, resulting in some claims being processed in 2014-15.


For more information about the payments below, see Outcome 1 in the Department of Social Services annual report 2014-15 at

Family Tax Benefit (FTB)—assists families with the day-to-day cost of raising children. FTB has two parts-FTB Part A and FTB Part B. Both payments are income tested and the amount paid is based on a family’s individual circumstances.

Child Care—Child Care Benefit assists with child care fees. Child Care Rebate assists with out-of-pocket expenses for child care, and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance assists eligible parents to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Paid Parental Leave Scheme—comprises two income-tested and work-tested payments for eligible parents to take time off work to care for a new baby or recently adopted child. The two payments are Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.

Parenting Payment—is an income support payment for parents or guardians to help with the cost of raising children. Parenting Payment customers must be single and care for at least one child aged under eight years, or partnered and care for at least one child aged under six years.

Parenting Payment customers need to meet income and assets tests (including a partner’s income and assets if partnered), meet residency requirements, and meet participation requirements if needed.

Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement—is an increased rate of FTB Part A paid after having a baby or adopting a child. Payments are $2,056.45 for the first child and for each child in a multiple birth, and up to $1,028.15 for subsequent children. Parental Leave Pay cannot be paid for the same child.

Stillborn Baby Payment—is available for eligible families who experience the loss of their baby as a result of stillbirth, if Parental Leave Pay is not payable. Stillborn Baby Payment is a lump sum payment of $2,056.45 for a first stillborn child or each stillborn child in a multiple birth, and up to $1,028.15 for a subsequent stillborn child.

Schoolkids Bonus—is paid in January and July each year. Families receive up to $422 per year for each primary school child and up to $842 per year for each secondary school child. From 1 January 2015 an income test has applied. Schoolkids Bonus is being phased out. The final instalment of the payment will be paid in July 2016.

Helping Young Parents and Supporting Jobless Families

The Helping Young Parents programme helps young parents aged 19 years or younger to create a positive future for themselves and their children. It supports parents to undertake education or training leading to a Year 12 or equivalent qualification.

The Supporting Jobless Families trial focuses on preparing parents to return to work when their youngest child reaches school-age, and helps parents to ensure their children are ready to start school.

The Helping Young Parents programme and Supporting Jobless Families trial was delivered in 10 selected local government areas in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

School Enrolment and Attendance Measure

The School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) is designed to improve educational outcomes for children by linking school enrolment and attendance to income support payments.

The department works closely with the Northern Territory Department of Education and provides intensive social work support to parents to identify and overcome barriers preventing their children regularly attending school.

In 2014-15 SEAM operated in 23 Northern Territory communities compared to 16 communities in 2013-14.

People with Disability and Carers

Disability Support Pension (DSP)—provides financial support for people who have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that limits their ability to work, or who are permanently blind. In 2014-15, 41,832 new claims for DSP were granted compared to 57,840 in 2013-14.

A number of changes to DSP were introduced in 2014-15:

  • From 1 July 2014, DSP recipients aged under 35 years with an assessed work capacity of eight hours or more per week are required to participate in compulsory activities that will help them find and keep a job
  • From 1 July 2014, the department commenced a review of DSP recipients aged under 35 years who were granted DSP between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2011. People granted DSP before 3 September 2011 who remain eligible following the review may be required to participate in a Program of Support. A Program of Support is an Australian Government funded programme to help people prepare for, find or maintain work
  • From 1 January 2015 DSP recipients who travel overseas will continue to receive their payments for a maximum of four weeks overseas in any 12-month period
  • From 1 January 2015 people claiming DSP may need to have a Disability Medical Assessment conducted by a government contracted doctor, in addition to a Job Capacity Assessment

Sickness Allowance—provides a short-term payment for people who are employed or self-employed, or in some cases are full-time students, who are temporarily unable to do their usual work or study due to a medical condition. In 2014-15, 18,713 new claims for Sickness Allowance were granted compared to 25,040 in 2013-14.

Mobility Allowance—helps people with disability, illness or injury who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance to participate in approved activities by providing support with transport costs. People receiving a package of support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) may not be eligible for Mobility Allowance, depending on the contents of their package. In 2014-15, 6,770 new claims for Mobility Allowance were granted compared to 8,648 in 2013-14.

Rent Assistance—Rent Assistance is an additional payment to help customers receiving an income support payment to pay their rent, generally in the private rental market. Private rent can also include amounts paid for site fees, mooring fees, board and lodgings, some retirement village fees, and fees paid to occupy a non-Australian Government funded bed in an aged care facility such as a hostel or nursing home.

Carer Payment—is an income support payment for people who are unable to support themselves through substantial paid employment because they provide full-time care to a child or adult with a severe disability, medical condition, or who is frail aged. In 2014-15, 53,607 new claims for Carer Payment were granted compared to 59,998 in 2013-14.

Carer Allowance—is an income supplement for carers who provide additional daily care and attention for a child or adult with disability or medical condition, or who is frail aged. In 2014-15, 101,021 new claims for Carer Allowance were granted compared to 117,825 in 2013-14.

For information about the department’s compliance with the Carer Recognition Act 2010 see Appendix C on page 256.

Participation for people with disabilities

From 1 July 2014 eligible DSP recipients aged under 35 years, with an assessed work capacity of eight or more hours a week, are required to have a participation plan which includes compulsory activities with a focus on employment. Before 1 July 2014 DSP recipients aged under 35 years were required to have a participation plan and attend regular interviews with the department. The changes in July 2014 strengthened the requirements by making activities compulsory and focusing on improving a customer’s ability to find and maintain work.

National Disability Insurance Agency and the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The department has a strong and cooperative relationship with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). In 2014-15 the department continued to support the NDIA with the rollout of the NDIS, including through:

  • data exchange
  • co-location with the NDIA in four departmental sites and one NDIA site
  • providing the NDIA with access to the department’s myGov platform which gives NDIS participants convenient access to online services
  • staff secondments and transfers to the NDIA

Further opportunities for close cooperation continue to be developed.

National Disability Strategy

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 sets out a 10 year national plan for improving life for people with disability, their families and carers. The strategy sets out a commitment by all levels of government, industry and the community for a national approach to policy and programme development. It also represents a shared vision for an inclusive society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.

Priority areas for action include learning, skills and economic security, which support education and employment opportunities as the main pathways to long-term economic security and wellbeing.

The department delivers a range of payments and services to customers with disability. We launched a new protocol for engaging people with disability on 3 December 2014 in response to the National Disability Strategy. The protocol outlines our strategies to actively work with people with disability and their advocates to design, shape and deliver better services for the community. For more information see People with disability on the department’s website at

Older Australians

Age Pension

To support older people, Age Pension payments are made to more than 2.4 million customers. The minimum age to qualify for Age Pension is currently 65 years.

From 1 July 2017 the qualifying age will increase to 65 years and six months. The qualifying age will then increase by six months every 2 years, reaching 67 years by 1 July 2023.

In 2014-15, 136,586 Age Pension new claims were granted. Of the total claims actioned, 12,800 were referred for further assessment due to the complexity of claimants’ financial arrangements.

Women make up 56% and men 44% of the Age Pension population. The department paid $41.6 billion in Age Pension payments in 2014-15 compared to $39.5 billion on 2013-14.

Real estate valuations

To qualify for a pension, benefit or allowance the department takes into account the value of a person’s assets. From 1 July 2014 the department implemented an automated risk-based approach to real estate valuations where the individual circumstances of a customer and their real estate are analysed to determine the appropriate valuation action. Most valuations are for real estate assets owned by people claiming Age Pension.

When needed, the department arranges for a professional valuation of assets. The department is undertaking a tender process for valuation services. During the tender period the department engaged a variety of licensed valuation providers to complete real estate valuations on behalf of the department.

Deeming of Account-Based Income Streams

The department implemented the new Deeming of Account-Based Income Streams measure on 1 January 2015. This initiative extended the deeming rules applying to financial investments to account-based income streams from superannuation accounts, to ensure all financial assets are assessed under the same rules. In 2014-15 the department contacted 460,000 customers by letter, email or SMS to inform them of the change.

Delivering aged care payments

The department delivers subsidies and supplements to approved aged care providers in collaboration with the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). The aim is to help aged care providers deliver cost-effective, quality care for frail, older people and support for their carers. The department’s role is to provide timely and accurate payments efficiently and effectively.

Table 3: Aged care overview
  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 % change since
Residential claims processed 32,647 32,541 34,695 +6.6
Home Care Packages claims processed1 25,395 26,835 23,393 -14.7
Flexible care (transition care) claims processed 1,176 939 1,095 +16.6
Total claims processed 59,218 60,315 59,183 -1.9
Total amount paid2 $10.5 billion $11.3 billion $12.1 billion +7.0
Residential aged care services (aged care homes) 2,739 2,693 2,683 -0.4
Home Care Packages services1 (facilities providing community-based packages) 2,132 2,181 2,132 -2.3
Flexible care services (transition care) 92 88 83 -6.0
Active services transmitting (online claiming) 3,329 3,403 2,947 -13.4

1. Home Care Packages commenced on 1 August 2013. Statistics for the previous financial year include Community packages and Flexible care (extended care at home) data.

2. Including $1.3 billion paid on behalf of DVA.

Aged Care Education and Training Incentive Programme

The Aged Care Education and Training Incentive Programme provides incentive payments to eligible aged care workers employed by approved facilities, who undertake specified education and training programmes. Eligible aged care workers who successfully complete a course may receive two incentive payments—commencement and completion payments. Incentive payment amounts depend on the level of study. The programme helps aged care workers to improve their qualifications as a personal care worker, enrolled nurse or a registered nurse within the aged care sector.

Table 4: Aged Care Education and Training Incentive Programme
  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Participants in vocational education and training 11,035 9,922 9,253
Participants in enrolled nurse training 2,357 2,234 1,899
Participants in registered nurse training 1,147 1,413 1,366
Total incentives processed 16,409 13,722 12,518
Total amount paid $9.9 million $11.3 million $10.4 million

Income and assets assessments for people entering aged care

The department continued to perform means testing assessments for older people entering aged care in 2014-15. New care fee arrangements were introduced to both home care packages and residential aged care on 1 July 2014. The new means test introduced for consumers entering residential aged care is based on a new combined assets and income-based assessment and calculation. The new means test introduced for consumers accessing a home care package is based on an income-based assessment only.

Supporting aged care reforms

In 2014-15 the department implemented the following Aged Care Reform measures:

  • removal of low care/high care distinction in residential aged care
  • new means test (income and assets) in residential aged care
  • new income test for home care
  • new annual and lifetime care contribution caps for means-tested care contributions, for both home care and residential aged care
  • introduction of the Higher Accommodation Supplement for residential aged care facilities

Relationship with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Under a memorandum of understanding with DVA the department continued to deliver the Veterans’ Information Service at 23 regional customer service centres—10 in New South Wales, four in Victoria, seven in Queensland, one in South Australia and one in the Northern Territory.

Community support services were delivered in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie in New South Wales, and four sites in South Australia delivered veterans’ agent services. The department also maintained three Veterans’ Information Kiosks.

We continued to work in partnership with DVA on measures such as managed investments, welfare payments, compliance and fraud initiatives, online concessions and administration of the Defence Force Income Support Allowance.

Job seekers and students

The department delivers a variety of payments and services for job seekers and students.

Newstart Allowance—provides financial help to people looking for work. Customers must be aged between 22 years and 65 years and looking for suitable paid work. Newstart Allowance customers need to meet income and assets tests and residency requirements, and be able to meet activity test participation requirements. In 2014-15 the department assessed 671,000 new Newstart Allowance claims. This compares to 647,000 in 2013-14.

Youth Allowance—is an income support payment for students, trainees and apprentices generally aged 16 to 24 years, or job seekers generally aged 16 to 21 years. Youth Allowance customers need to meet income and assets tests and residency requirements. In 2014-15 the department assessed 424,000 new Youth Allowance claims. This compares to 407,000 in 2013-14.

Austudy—provides financial help to full-time students and apprentices aged 25 years or older. In 2014-15 the department assessed 72,000 new claims. This compares to 68,000 in 2013-14.

Education Entry Payment—is available to people receiving specific income support payments to help with the costs of incidental educational expenses such as books and fees. Education Entry Payment is paid once a year to qualified recipients.

ABSTUDY—provides a means-tested allowance and other supplementary benefits to eligible Indigenous students. In 2014-15 the department assessed 37,155 new claims. This compares to 35,329 in 2013-14.

Pensioner Education Supplement—is available as extra assistance towards ongoing study costs to recipients of some Department of Human Services and DVA income support payments. The supplement is available to full-time students and in certain circumstances to students approved to undertake part-time study of at least 25% of a full study load. In 2014-15 the department assessed 63,302 new claims. This compares to 69,325 in 2013-14.

Special Benefit—helps people in severe financial hardship who are not able to support themselves and their dependants and are not eligible for another payment. In 2014-15 the department assessed 9,560 claims. This compares to 8,561 in 2013-14.

Meeting participation requirements for job seekers

Job seekers receiving Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (job seeker), Parenting Payment Single or Special Benefit (paid under Newstart Allowance conditions) must satisfy activity test or participation requirements to remain eligible for payment.

Personal Contact Interviews complement self-managed reporting and are part of a job seeker’s contact arrangements. The interviews maintain personal contact between job seekers and the department and reflect a focus on compliance with participation requirements. In 2014-15, 2,400,797 Personal Contact Interviews were completed compared to 2,073,296 interviews in 2013-14.

With the introduction of the new Employment Services Model on 1 July 2015, Employment Services Providers assumed responsibility for setting and monitoring job search efforts, and Personal Contact Interviews ceased.

Table 5: Activity tested recipients by payment type
Payment type At 28 June 2013 At 27 June 2014 At 26 June 2015
Newstart Allowance 660,6732 705,8145 748,7196
Youth Allowance 113,8402 113,9985 112,6206
Special Benefit1 6823 7055 7586
Parenting Payment Single 47,2764 49,935 51,6476
Total 822,471 870,452 913,744

1. The majority of Special Benefit recipients are not activity tested.

2. Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations on 5 July 2013.

3. Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs on 5 August 2013.

4. From 1 January 2013 Parenting Payment Single customers moved to Newstart Allowance once their youngest child turned eight years of age.

5. Source: DSS on 8 July 2014.

6. Source: DSS on 6 July 2015.

Job seeker compliance

The job seeker compliance model applies to job seekers receiving participation payments who have compulsory mutual obligation requirements.

The model aims to ensure job seekers attend appointments and participate in activities to help get them back into work. Job seekers who become disengaged from employment services or activities are re-engaged as quickly as possible. When a job seeker does not have a reasonable excuse for not meeting their mutual obligation requirements, a financial penalty may apply.

Non-Attendance Reports were introduced as part of the job seeker compliance model on 1 July 2014. Employment services providers may use them as a re-engagement tool when a job seeker does not attend an appointment. From 1 January 2015 the job seeker’s payment is automatically restored, including any back payment as long as the job seeker attends a new appointment which is booked for them by their provider. From 1 July 2015, if a job seeker misses an appointment they will not get full back pay when their income support payment starts again.

In 2014-15 the department undertook 549,426 job seeker compliance investigations and actioned 1,185,398 Non-Attendance Reports. This compares to 1,536,112 job seeker compliance investigations and 188,525 contact requests in 2013-14.

Employment Services Assessments

Employment Services Assessments (ESAts) identify the most appropriate type of employment services for people with medical conditions and other barriers to employment. ESAts are also used to identify other assistance that may help a job seeker prepare for, find and maintain work, taking into account any partial work capacity.

In 2014-15 the department completed 207,298 ESAts. Assessors made approximately 686,156 recommendations for assistance that employment services could deliver that would be of greatest benefit in building job seekers’ capacity for work. This compares to 206,835 ESAts conducted in 2013-14 where 992,000 recommendations were made. The decrease reflects improved targeting of recommendations by assessors.

Job Capacity Assessments

Job Capacity Assessments (JCAs) help the department determine if a person meets the medical eligibility and job capacity requirements for DSP claims.

The department employs qualified health and allied health professionals in multi-disciplinary teams in locations across Australia to undertake ESAts and JCAs. These professionals include:

  • psychologists
  • physiotherapists
  • medical advisers
  • occupational therapists
  • rehabilitation counsellors
  • exercise physiologists
  • registered nurses
  • social workers

Table 6 indicates the numbers of medical and non-medical ESAts and JCAs that the department completed each year.

Table 6: Type of assessments completed
  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
ESAt non-medical 34,348 27,464 24,375
ESAt medical 18,455 179,371 182,923
Job Capacity Assessment 118,674 115,517 95,028
Total 334,477 322,352 302,326

Health Professional Advisory Unit

The Health Professional Advisory Unit is a multi-disciplinary unit comprising medical advisers, allied health professionals, directors and administrative staff across 24 locations. The unit strengthens DSP decision making by providing expert advice to departmental assessors and decision makers, and builds relationships between the department and customers’ doctors.

In 2014-15 the unit received 3,473 referrals compared to 3,754 referrals in 2013-14.

In addition to the provision of expert advice to the department, the unit was also closely involved in providing expert advice on matters before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Page last updated: 9 August 2016

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