Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
Help for families with students who cannot go to a state school because of geographical isolation, disability or special health needs.
- have a school aged child undertaking primary, secondary or tertiary study who lives in an isolated area, or
- have a school age child with disability or a special need that cannot be met at a local state school, and
- the child needs to board away from home, live in a second family home to attend a local education institution, or study from home
We’ll write to you in April 2016 if we need you to update your family details. If you don’t receive a letter, you don’t need to do anything. Read more about updating your family details.
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments are not taxed and, except for Additional Boarding Allowance, are free of income and assets tests.
Eligibility & payment rates
You may be eligible for Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments if you and the student meet certain requirements.
You and the student must meet residence requirements and the student must meet the following requirements:
- the minimum primary school entry age for the state or territory where they will be going to school
- aged 3 years and 6 months or older and have a health condition or disability that requires them to live away from home
- younger than 19 years of age on 1 January in the year of study and they are a primary or secondary student
- younger than 20 years of age on 1 January and their education has been seriously disrupted, for example because of illness or language difficulties
- younger than 21 years of age, on Disability Support Pension or Parenting Payment single and studying at primary or ungraded level, or
- the maximum age for a tertiary student is the age their state or territory no longer requires them to participate in education
- approved studies
- undertaking full time, ungraded primary or secondary 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 a state school that provides tuition at the grade or year in which the student is qualified to enrol, for example, Year 9
- the student has a disability, or a special health 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
- living arrangements during the school term
- boarding away from home at a school, 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
The student must be studying full time in an approved course at an approved institution to be eligible.
Approved courses include:
- accredited primary or secondary courses through a school, college, special school, distance or online education, or a Northern Territory Homeland Learning Centre
- home schooling that has been approved by the relevant education authority
- vocational education and training or TAFE statement of attainment or certificate courses, and other accredited tertiary training programs
- approved ungraded living skills education or training courses in a residential or non-residential institution for children with disability or other special needs
Approved education institutions
Approved institutions include:
- government primary, secondary or special schools and senior secondary colleges
- Northern Territory Homeland Learning Centres
- government distance education centres or schools, and Schools of the Air
- non-government education institutions with primary, ungraded, secondary or special courses, including distance education, accredited by the relevant education authority
- government and private vocational education and training, or TAFE institutions that are Registered Training Organisations
- government and non-government residential or non-residential institutions for children with disability or other special needs
Find out if the course or institution is approved
To find out if the student’s course or institution is approved, call us on 132 318.
There are 4 types of payment rates.
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments are not taxed and, except for Additional Boarding Allowance, do not have income and assets tests.
Payment rates are adjusted on 1 January each year in line with increases in the cost of living, except for Assistance for Isolated Children Pensioner Education Supplement.
|Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme allowance||Maximum payment rate for 2015||Maximum payment rate for 2016|
|Boarding Allowance (Basic and Additional)||
$9,407 per year, made up of 2 components:
$9,548 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||$232.84 per fortnight, per student - limited to a maximum of 3 students in a family|
|Distance Education Allowance||$3,948 per year||$4,007 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||$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.
Payments are either made per term or per fortnight depending on which payment you are receiving.
Your payment will be made 4 times a year in advance if you are eligible for:
- Basic 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
Your payment will be made fortnightly if you are eligible for:
- Basic 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
Assistance for Isolated Children payments cannot be paid for a student who is on another payment, such as Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY, or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans’ Children Education Scheme payments.
Some students turning 16 years of age 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.
Under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme, only the Additional Boarding Allowance is income tested.
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
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 if you are contacting us in the 4 weeks before 31 December of the year of study
- complete the claim form
- submit your claim and supporting documentation
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
If your or your family's circumstances change, this may affect your eligibility or change your payment amount.
We review your circumstances annually to make sure you are getting the correct payment amount.
You need to tell us if you or the student'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, or
- the care arrangements for the student change
- you or the student leaves 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 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 apply.
There are rules about how long Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme payments can be paid outside Australia.
There is support available to help you manage your money if you have overdrawn your bank, building society or credit union account.