I found the following information in the Social Security Act under the Section dealing with Youth Allowance. Everything in this article is opinion only; please seek advice from a qualified legal practitioner for your particular situation.
To be eligible for Youth Allowance a young person must be a `student child', defined as someone above 16 years but under 22 years of age, earning less than a specified amount, and "receiving full-time education at a school, college or university". Home educated Youth Allowance applicants must be studying in "an approved course of education or study" so determined, under section 5D of the Student Assistance Act 1973, to be a secondary course or a tertiary course for the purposes of that Act. Under that Act, 5D states that the Minister may determine in writing that a course of study or instruction is a secondary course, or a tertiary course.
By my layperson's reading, does this mean that home educators can approach the Minister and ask that he or she give written approval of their home education courses of study, and thus be eligible for Youth Allowance?
Section 542FA.(3) of the Social Security Act 1991 (including all amendments up to Act # 82, 2006) states, in relation to exemptions under disabled children or other family circumstances: "The Secretary to the Department of Social Security must make a determination under this section in relation to the person if the Secretary is satisfied that the person is the principal carer of one or more children, and that: (b) the person is a home educator of that child, or one or more of those children. `Home educator' is defined under part 5C:
"A person is a home educator of a child if the Secretary is satisfied that: (a) the child is receiving, in the person's home, education that wholly or substantially replaces the education that the child would otherwise receive by attending a school; and (b) the person meets the requirements (if any) of the law of the State or Territory in which the person resides that the person must meet in order to be permitted, under the law of that State or Territory, to provide that education to the child; and (c) the person is suitably involved in providing and supervising that education.
Adele Carrall has written a comprehensive article on the ridiculous situation homeschooling families face when considering applying for Youth Allowance well worth reading, even if your children are not approaching sixteen years of age: http://www.geocities.com/adelecarrall/youth_allowance.html
Our family's experience with Youth Allowance and homeschooling:
Our eldest went to school part time (Year 8) and then full time at the age of sixteen and Youth Allowance was a factor in this decision. Her brothers elected to complete their education at home and although we kept documentation of their educational curriculum and progress they were not eligible. The youngest considered applying but by then our income had increased and he decided that it wasn't worth jumping through the bureaucratic hoops: he opted to earn the money Youth Allowance would have paid. As a result of years of observing our repeated frustration and stress dealing with Centrelink he has decided to permanently stay clear of Centrelink. I wonder how many other youngsters are forming negative views of government department because of the discrimination they experience during their childhood?
Author: Beverley Paine