Farrago talks higher ed: Welfare changes for young people

Tuesday, 27 May, 2014


Words by Nathan Fioritti


With the release of the Budget the government has made a couple of changes to the way the welfare (Youth Allowance, Newstart) system works for young people. It doesn’t directly impact education. But the changes will affect many students if passed.


What changes to welfare were made in the Budget?

The government has changed the eligible age for Newstart from 22 to 25. This means 22- to 24-year-olds who were receiving Newstart will stop receiving it. They might qualify for Youth Allowance instead.

Waiting periods of up to six months have been introduced for people under the age of 30 who qualify for welfare payments. Also, while overseas, students will now only continue to receive payments in certain circumstance—such as if they are studying or visiting due to a family emergency.


When will these changes begin?

The new conditions for jobseekers up to 30 years of age will begin from 1 January 2015. For current Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients the changes will begin from 1 July 2015. The changes to overseas payments will start on 1 October 2014.


What’s the difference between Newstart and Youth Allowance?

The main difference between Newstart and Youth Allowance is the payment rate. Depending on your situation, the current payment rates for Newstart are $510.50 to $713.20 per fortnight. However, the payment rates for Youth Allowance (18 years and over) are $272.80 to $713.20 per fortnight.

To be receiving the full amount in both instances, you would need to be a single parent who meets a few conditions. So, basically, a lot of people who do not qualify for the higher rates will be receiving less.

Youth Allowance is also predominantly available to students, to assist them financially while they study. However students in some courses will be ineligible for payment under the new system. These courses include recreational courses such as cooking and aromatherapy, as they do not necessarily generate careers “relevant to the labour market”.

Newstart is more about helping people who are unable to find work (you’ve probably heard it commonly referred to as “the dole”).


If you’re still confused, click on these links for more information about Newstart and Youth Allowance.