Types of main benefits
You’re a sole parent with a child/children under 14
You can apply for Sole Parent Support if:
- you’re aged 20 or older, and
- you have children under 14. Once your youngest child turns three, you are expected to look for part-time work – “the part-time work test” (see: “What are “work obligations”?”), or
- you’re caring for someone else’s child under 14.
If you’re a teenage parent, you’ll need to apply for the Young Parent Payment instead (see: “Teenage parents (Young Parent Payment)”).
If you’re looking after someone else’s child, you might instead be able to apply for the Unsupported Child’s or the Orphan’s Benefit. You can’t receive Orphans Benefit/Unsupported Childs Benefit and Sole Parent Support for the same child (see: “You’re caring for someone else’s child”).
Qualifying for Sole Parent Support
Do I qualify for Sole Parent Support?
You might qualify for Sole Parent Support if:
- you’re the sole parent of a child under the age of 14, and
- you’re 20 or older, and
- you’re either:
- not considered to be in a relationship (see: “Does it matter if I’m in a relationship?”), or
- your partner is in prison or on parole with conditions that prevent employment.
If you’re the sole parent of a child aged 14 or older, or if you have a partner and dependent children of any age, you might instead qualify for Jobseeker Support.
Will I have to look for work?
If your youngest child is three or older but under 14, you have to be available for, and looking for, at least 20 hours of work per week (the “part-time work test”).
If your youngest child is under three, you might have to occasionally take part in work preparation activities (e.g., training or education).
For information on if you can’t comply with the part-time work test, see: “What are “work obligations”?”.
What other obligations will I have?
- Drug-testing– If you’re required to be available for, and looking for, part-time work, you’ll also be subject to drug-testing obligations (see: “Will I be drug tested?”).
- “Social obligations” for parents– All beneficiaries who are parents are also subject to a number of what are called “social obligations,” which include, for example, making sure that from age three your children attend pre-school or school.
What if I share custody with my child’s other parent?
Both parents can get Sole Parent Support if you have a Parenting Order from the Family Court that awards both parents day-to-day care of one or more of the children.
However, only one parent can get Sole Parent Support if you don’t have a Parenting Order from the Family Court. If both of you apply for Sole Parent Support, Work and Income will decide which of you have the greater responsibility for the child or children (the “principal caregiver”).
The other parent won’t qualify for Sole Parent Support, but they can apply for different benefits. If they get a different benefit, the amount they get will depend on if they are the principal caregiver of another child or children:
- If they’re not the principal caregiver of another child, they won’t get that benefit at a sole parent rate.
- If they’re the principal caregiver of another child or children, they can still get that benefit at a sole parent rate.
What happens if I have another child while on the benefit?
If you take on the care of another child while you’re getting Sole Parent Support (for example, if you give birth or adopt a child), your work test obligations will change depending on the age of your now-youngest child. When the youngest child in your care turns 14, you’ll be transferred to Jobseeker Support.
Will I have to identify the other parent?
Social Security Act 2018, ss 192–194 (repealed)
No. If you can’t identify the other parent, or refuse to do so, this won’t affect the benefit payments you can receive.