ABSTUDY Fares Allowance information for boarding schools and hostels

You have obligations for your students who get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance.

How you can help students

You can arrange travel requests for students who get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance. This will help students with travel costs if they get ABSTUDY and need to live away from home.

To get it, secondary school students need to be eligible for the Schooling B Award. They also need to qualify for a higher rate of ABSTUDY when living away from home.

Before requesting travel for a student, you should discuss the student's travel needs with their parents or guardians. If something disrupts a student’s travel, you need make sure they can complete their trip to school or home safely.

Your responsibilities

Arrange a travel supervisor

If the student needs a supervisor, you, their hostel, or their parent or guardian can arrange one. We don’t provide supervisors for students.

If you’ve arranged travel over a weekend, you need to:

  • make sure students under 18 have a supervisor or a Safe Travel Plan in place
  • give us the student’s emergency contact details when you book travel.

If something disrupts the student’s travel, you or the student’s supervisor, parent or guardian must help them complete their trip. They can claim Fares Allowance for a reimbursement of extra accommodation or meal costs.

Make a Safe Travel Plan with your students

A Safe Travel Plan is an agreement between a student, their parents and school. It includes information like:

  • how the student will travel
  • whether they have a travel supervisor
  • any details people may need during the trip, like medical conditions and medication
  • what to do if something goes wrong during the trip.

After 1 July 2019, students will need a Safe Travel Plan to pre-book travel using ABSTUDY Fares Allowance.

Read more about Safe Travel Plans on the Department of Social Services website.

Make sure your students know their obligations

You need to make sure your students meet their obligations when you access ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for them. If you don’t, the student may get a penalty.

If you arrange travel for students, you must tell students to do all of the following:

  • have a copy of their itinerary with them at all times
  • have photo ID that matches the name on their ticket
  • bring any medications they need
  • have a contact number for your school or hostel, including one for after hours
  • dress appropriately for travel carrier requirements, for example, they must wear shoes
  • know the carry on and checked baggage allowances of all travel carriers
  • follow the travel carrier’s rules at the transport terminal, including getting there early.

They also need to do all of the following:

  • do what their supervisor says, if they have one
  • behave as per school standards and expectations
  • travel at the time booked, unless we’ve approved travel changes
  • not stop mid trip, unless there are special circumstances we’ve approved
  • stay at the transport terminal when waiting for a connecting trip.

Secondary students need to report any travel disruptions to their school or hostel.

If you have any questions, call us on 131 158.

What you need to know when making travel requests

When you’re ready to make a travel request, tell us the travel details and we’ll arrange the trip.

You need to request travel at least 6 weeks before the travel date, except for compassionate travel. If needed, you should make a request for compassionate travel as soon as possible.

When making a request, include all of the following:

  • the names of all students, making sure they match the photo ID they’ll be carrying on the trip
  • preferred travel dates for all students, noting weekend and after hours travel restrictions.

If the student is travelling with a supervisor, we also need to know all of the following for the supervisor:

We also need to know all of the following:

  • if the student or supervisor will have excess baggage
  • if the student or supervisor needs accommodation and transfers
  • if the student or supervisor won’t travel by a particular mode of transport, for example a small plane.

You can call us on 131 158 to discuss how to organise travel.

When you’ve confirmed travel arrangements, you’ll get a copy of the itinerary. Check the itinerary is correct. Contact us immediately if there are any problems with the departure and arrival dates or times.

You must give the parents or guardians and the student a copy of the itinerary. Make sure students are aware of their travel. Let them know they might be penalised if they miss travel.

Travel restrictions for students

Weekend travel, public holiday and interstate travel restrictions apply for secondary school students.

Students can travel between their place of study to their permanent home and back. We may also approve travel to or from other places if the location is on their usual travel route.

Supervisor travel for young students

All ABSTUDY secondary school students younger than 12 must travel with a supervisor for the entire trip.

We encourage ABSTUDY secondary school students who’re 12 to 17 to travel with a supervisor on trips where:

  • they’re travelling to an educational institution for the first time
  • there’s more than 1 mode of travel, for example a charter flight and a commercial flight
  • there are long wait times between travel connections
  • they can't get to their place of study in 1 day and need to stay overnight
  • they have a history of missing travel
  • they have emotional or psychological challenges that need the support of a supervisor.

A supervisor needs to be 18 or over. They can be any of the following:

  • parent
  • guardian
  • person from the student's community
  • representative from the school or hostel.

Supervisors help students meet connecting travel. They also help if they miss their travel or their trip is disrupted. If a student needs to stay overnight, they must look after the student until they can rebook travel.

Supervisors may be eligible for a return trip from their home to the student's place of study. This is for all types of travel. The allowance may also cover overnight accommodation and meals. It doesn’t cover any loss of pay.

Orientation travel

Students may be eligible for a return trip between their home and place of study. This may be for any of the following reasons:

  • to attend an interview before acceptance into a boarding school
  • if they’re from a remote community and going away to board for the first time
  • if they finished secondary studies last year and will do an approved tertiary course for at least 1 year.

Students, family and community members can get help to travel for an orientation. There is no limit on how often they can access ABSTUDY Fares Allowance to travel to an orientation.

You’ll need to provide proof of the student’s orientation travel requirement before we can book their travel.

In some cases, it’s cheaper to have a school representative travel to a community to do interviews. You can do this if at least 6 students from the same community need to do enrolment interviews or selection exercises.

We may approve up to 2 representatives to travel to and from the community. You’ll need to show this will be the cheapest option before we approve the travel.

Special purpose visit travel

Students, family or community members may be eligible for up to 3 return trips between their home and place of study. They can get help to attend school activities like award ceremonies, sporting events or a graduation. They can also get help for travel when the following apply:

  • a student is at risk of suspension or expulsion
  • a visit from a parent, guardian or another person will help a student.

You’ll need to provide proof of the student’s special purpose travel requirement before we can book their travel.

Expelled secondary students

If a boarding school expels a student, they need to arrange travel back to the student’s permanent home.

The parents or guardians and the school need to discuss and organise travel. Usually, expelled students can’t use ABSTUDY Fares Allowance to travel back to their permanent home.

Expelled students can only access ABSTUDY Fares Allowance if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • the student is a possible risk to themselves or others
  • the school followed all steps required under legislation, including contacting parents and authorities like the police or Child Protection
  • the school has exhausted all local solutions, like moving the student to be with family members
  • there’s no other source of funding from the school or family.

You’ll need to complete a checklist to confirm you’ve met these conditions. The principal or head of the school will need to sign the checklist. It should include all of the following:

  • an outline of what the school has done to try and fix the issue
  • the name and contact number of the parent or guardian
  • a brief outline of the discussions with the parents or guardians and the outcome.

For a copy of the checklist, call us on 131 158.

Suspended secondary students

Suspended students can’t get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance. The school should follow state requirements for managing suspended students and discuss the situation with the parent or guardian.

Parents or Guardians may be eligible for a return trip to visit students at risk of suspension or expulsion. They can make the trip under orientation or special purpose visit travel up to 3 times a year.

Changing or cancelling travel we’ve arranged

We won’t approve changes to booked travel unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances may include when the student:

  • can’t travel due to illness, injury, or the death or funeral of an immediate family member
  • needs to take part in a significant cultural event
  • needs to change their travel destination because their parents have recently moved
  • needs to change their travel plans because their school selected them for extracurricular activities after booking their travel.

You’ll need proof of the student’s situation before we can change their travel.

If you need to change or cancel travel we’ve arranged, call our ABSTUDY students line immediately. We need at least 24 hours notice to cancel travel arrangements.

If you need to change or cancel travel due to exceptional circumstances, we can rebook it for you. If the travel was changed or cancelled for any other reason, we won’t rebook it. In this case, you or the parents or guardians will need to book and pay for the travel. We may reimburse you for the cost of travel.

Before sending us a travel request, think about when the student needs to be at school for the following:

  • academic requirements
  • planned school events, such as sports carnivals and school or religious camps
  • culturally significant events that need student participation
  • festivals, shows or social events such as formals
  • participation in extracurricular activities that needs the involvement of selected students over the school holiday period.

Penalties for missed travel

There are penalties for students who miss travel we’ve booked.

For every trip they miss without a valid reason, they’ll get a $100 debt.

We’ll continue to pre-book travel for students, but they’ll get a $100 debt for every trip they miss.

If they missed travel due to an exceptional circumstance they may not get a penalty.

You need to make sure students know the following:

  • what their travel arrangements are
  • missing travel can impact them and their family
  • they can get a fine for missed travel.

You can arrange for a supervisor to travel with a student to reduce the risk of them missing pre-booked travel.

How we reimburse fares

If you pay for a student who can get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance, we’ll reimburse some or all of the cost. The amount will be the lesser of either:

  • the most reasonable cost of travel
  • the actual cost of the trip.

To claim reimbursement, complete and submit an ABSTUDY Fares Allowance Claim form.

You can submit the form in any of the following ways:

  • by fax to 132 115
  • in person at a service centre, or
  • by post to:
    Department of Human Services
    Student Services
    Reply Paid 7804
    Canberra BC ACT 2610

You must give us proof of travel such as tickets, dockets or receipts with the claim.

To get a reimbursement, you must submit your claim before 1 April in the year after the year of study.

Where to get more information for students

Read more about ABSTUDY and ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for students.

Page last updated: 22 February 2019