Newstart Allowance from 1991, Job Search Allowance 1991 to 1996

Back to contents 

Milestones

Details

1991
July

UB replaced by Job Search Allowance and Newstart Allowance

UB replaced by JSA and Newstart Allowance (NSA).

JSA for those aged 16 and 17 years unchanged and extended to cover those registered by the CES as unemployed for less than 12 months. Recipients to meet requirements of an activity test similar to previous work test but with greater emphasis on vocational training and labour market program participation.

NSA paid to those aged 18 years and over registered with CES as unemployed for longer than 12 months. JSA activity test also applied to NSA recipients. NSA recipients required to enter into a Newstart Activity Agreement with CES covering activities NSA recipient could be required to undertake, such as job search, vocational training, labour market program participation, paid work experience, job search training or training to reduce labour market disadvantage.

UB conditions and rates continued in most cases under new payments. Failure to comply with new activity tests or terms of a Newstart Activity Agreement added to list of situations in which a non-payment period could be imposed.

Formal Training Allowance paid by Department of Employment, Education and Training abolished for recipients receiving JSA or NSA.

Maintenance income test free areas indexed annually in July.

1991
December

Those who entered into agreements with the Commonwealth undertaking to assure support for migrants who were unlikely to be able to support themselves, required to lodge a refundable bond with the Commonwealth Bank. JSA or NSA expenditure on these migrants to be deducted from the bond with any residue refunded when the migrant had been settled in Australia for two years.

1992
January

JSA independent rate eligibility extended to:

  • those aged 16 or 17 years in substitute care and not receiving state government allowances
  • under 16 year olds aged above minimum school leaving age or over 15 years of age with an exemption from attending school, with an employment history and not living with, or supported, by a parent and
  • those aged 16 and 17 years olds registered with CES as seeking full time work for at least 13 weeks in previous six months.

1992
March

New grants of JSA or NSA limited to half the married rate for a member of a couple whose partner was not receiving DSS income support.

1992
November

Waiting period for school leavers changed. For those aged under 21 years who were not part of a couple and without dependent children, waiting period now 13 weeks or until 15 February, whichever was the earlier. Other education leavers to serve a six-week waiting period.

Waiting period waived for those who had undertaken a course of education for longer than six months, and then returned to income support within 12 months of cancellation of income support; and for those who would otherwise qualify for SpB.

Part-time and casual work undertaken since leaving school and prior to start of waiting period, taken into account when determining waiting period length.

1993
January

Migrants arriving in Australia after 1 January 1993 ineligible for JSA/NSA until six months after arrival or receipt of permanent residence, whichever was the later.

1993
March

Work test job search reporting requirements for NSA recipients aged 50 to 54 years brought into line with those aged 55 to 64 years. Required to report every 12 weeks instead of fortnightly if not receiving regular private income. If in substantial part-time work, these NSA recipients exempt from usual activity test.

Restrictions on amount of voluntary work permitted under work test changed. Up to six weeks full-time voluntary work per year allowed for those aged under 50 years and unemployed for more than six months. (Previously only part-time voluntary work up to 20 hours per week permitted.) JSA recipients aged 16 and 17 years, receiving JSA for three months or more, able to do full-time voluntary work for six weeks per year, an increase of two weeks. JSA recipients aged 50 to 54 years able to do full-time voluntary work for up to 13 weeks per year, the same provision previously applying to those aged 55 years or older.

JSA independent rate made available to those who had lived away from home for 18 weeks (previously 26 weeks).

JSA/NSA eligibility extended to those aged 15 years with an employment history or registered with the CES for at least 13 weeks.

1993
September

JSA/NSA single recipients entitled to earn additional $30 pf from wages before payment reduced by income test. Similarly, a couple’s earnings entitlement increased from $30 to $50 pf each.

A person with a partner in prison treated as if they were single.

Ordinary waiting period waived for claimants receiving income support within the previous 13 weeks.

1994
January

Fringe benefits valued at over $1000 per annum taken into consideration under JSA parental income test.

A $200 Education Entry Payment introduced for JSA/NSA recipients under 18 years of age who were registered with CES for at least 12 months and enrolled in a full-time course of study.

1994
March

Earnings credit introduced. Maximum rate JSA/NSA recipients able to accumulate a credit of up to $500 at rate of $90 fortnightly for single recipients and $80 fortnightly for each member of a couple without payments being reduced under income test. Credits could not be used if earned income greater than cut-off point for payments under income test.

1994
July

Deferment periods due to activity test breaches changed to relate to length of time a person unemployed. Deferment periods for administrative breaches unchanged.

A two-week deferment of income support applied for the first activity test breach by those unemployed less than 12 months. Subsequent breaches incurred an additional six-week deferment for each breach. Initial deferment period increased from two to four weeks for those unemployed 12 to 18 months and to six weeks for those unemployed over 18 months. Deferment periods could not commence until recipient notified and received two instalments of JSA or NSA after notification.

1994
September

Partner Allowance introduced

Additional amount of JSA/NSA paid to recipients with a dependent spouse replaced by Partner Allowance (PA) paid directly to dependent spouse and at same rate as JSA/NSA married rate.

1995
January

Working Nation

As part of Working Nation, JSA for those aged under 18 years replaced by Youth Training Allowance (YTA), administered by Department of Employment, Education and Training and paid by DSS. JSA recipients under 18 years of age on 1 January continued with JSA, but no new grants were made to people in this age group from that date. General YTA eligibility conditions the same as for JSA for people under 18 years of age with exception that AUSTUDY assets test replaced DSS benefit assets test. YTA recipients provided with intensive case management and access to training, education and work experience placements.

1995
March

JSA and NSA recipients eligible for an advance payment of their allowance of $250 to $1000 in certain situations, repaid by reduction in allowance over subsequent six to 12 months.

Development of self-employment and participation in co-operative enterprises included in activities available for long-term unemployed recipients.

Restrictions on amount of voluntary work by a JSA/NSA recipient removed.

Simplified re-grant procedures applied for up to 26 weeks after last receipt of payment (previously 13 weeks).

Recipients starting casual or part-time work which would be sufficient to preclude payment not cancelled from JSA/NSA system for 12 weeks (previously six weeks).

1995
July

Income test changed. The 'earnings disregard' removed leaving a standard $60 pf income test free area for all recipients, single and partnered. The 100 per cent withdrawal rate changed to 70 per cent withdrawal rate (50 per cent withdrawal rate on first $40 earned after free area unchanged).

Each member of a couple individually subject to standard income test. Once income of one partner reduced their payment to nil, any additional income reduced partner’s payment.

1996
March

JSA and NSA recipients temporarily incapacitated for work because of illness not transferred to, or granted, SA. These recipients remained on, or were granted, the payment they were otherwise eligible for, but were exempt from the activity test while ill.

Earnings credit changed so that the credit accrued at a rate equal to the amount of the unused free area in any fortnight. Maximum amount of earnings credit to be used in any fortnight limited to $100.

1996
July

Extended deeming introduced

Major reform of income test treatment of financial assets—'Extended Deeming'—introduced. When assessing income under the income test, total value of all financial assets added together. A rate of return of five per cent deemed to have been received on first $30 000 ($50 000 for a couple) worth of assets and a rate of seven per cent was deemed for asset holdings above these levels. First $2000 ($4000 for a couple) exempt from extended deeming. These rates set at levels considered to be easily achievable using safe investments. Minister for Social Security could vary deeming rates as market rates changed.

Financial assets included: bank, building society and credit union accounts; cash; term deposits; cheque accounts; friendly society bonds; managed investments; investments in superannuation funds, approved deposit funds and deferred annuities after age pension age; listed shares and securities; loans, debentures and bonds; shares in unlisted public companies; gifted assets above the allowable limits; and gold and other bullion.

Financial assets excluded: homes, home contents and other real estate; cars, boats and caravans; antiques and stamp and coin collections; investments in superannuation funds, approved deposit funds and deferred annuities before age pension age; standard life insurance policies; and income streams such as superannuation pensions, allocated pensions, immediate annuities and allocated annuities.

1996
September

JSA and NSA amalgamated

JSA and NSA amalgamated as Newstart Allowance.

More flexible reporting requirements introduced for certain groups: four-weekly reporting for those recipients under case management, in training or doing voluntary work; 12-weekly reporting for those over fifty years of age; and negotiated reporting arrangements to suit circumstances of those recipients located in remote locations.

1997
January

NSA, YTA and SA minimum payment rates abolished for those under 18 years of age. Full payment rate for these recipients subject to parental means test.

Advance payments restricted to amounts of up to $500 and limited to one advance payment each 12 months.

Definition of 'unsuitable paid work' for job seekers modified:

  • lack of qualifications, skills or experience no longer made work unsuitable only if employer did not provide training
  • medical evidence required if work unsuitable because of job seeker’s injury, disability or illness and
  • work unsuitable if required Defence Force or Reserve Force enlistment.

Non-payment period incurred increased from 12 to 26 weeks when a person moved to an area of lower employment prospects.

A person unemployed as a result of industrial action in breach of an order, direction or injunction, not eligible for an unemployment payment for six weeks after cessation of industrial action.

1997
March

Deferment period as penalty for administrative breaches replaced by rate reduction period, which reduced payment by 16 per cent for 13 weeks.

Activity test breaches could be imposed for failure to attend an interview or complete a labour market program, and for non-declaration of income from remunerative work.

Earnings credit scheme abolished.

Calculation of preclusion periods due to the receipt of personal injury compensation after 20 March 1997 altered. Compensation amount divided by the amount above which no pension was payable to a single person under the income test. Previously compensation amount divided by 'all persons average weekly earnings'. For compensation received after 20 March 1997, compensation preclusion period applied only to the recipient and not to spouses as previously.

Exemption under 'extended deeming' provisions for first $2000 ($4000 for a couple) removed.

Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period of 104 weeks for a range of payments introduced for migrants arriving after 4 March 1997. Refugees and their immediate family, and certain spouse visa holders, exempt.

1997
July

Work for the Dole Scheme

Health Benefit Card replaced by Health Care Cards for SA recipients and incapacitated-for-work NSA recipients.

Activity test arrangements amended to provide for recipients to be directed to participate in the Work for the Dole Scheme (WFTD), with a fortnightly payment of $20 to participants.

1997
September

Superannuation assets assessed under the income and assets tests for those recipients aged 55 years and over and receiving income support for 39 weeks. .

Voluntary work arrangements for those not subject to activity agreements changed. Those aged 50 years or more could satisfy the activity test by undertaking voluntary work for an unlimited number of days per year or by a combination of voluntary and paid work with an approved organisation for at least 40 hours fortnightly. Those aged under 50 years and in receipt of income support for three or more months could satisfy activity test by undertaking full-time voluntary work for six fortnights in first 12 months on income support.

Income maintenance period introduced. Leave payments treated as income from date received for the period of leave for which they were calculated. For example, where a termination payment includes paid-out leave entitlements, NSA not payable for the period of the paid-out leave. Eligible termination payments rolled over into an appropriate fund exempt.

Liquid assets test changed so that those with liquid assets over $2500 if single or $5000 if partnered were subject to waiting periods from one to 13 weeks depending on assets amount.

1998
July

Youth Allowance introduced

Mutual Obligation

Youth Allowance (YA) became the main income support payment for young people. YA replaced YTA and NSA for those who were aged 15 to 20 years and unemployed.

Enhanced Mutual Obligation arrangements introduced. Young unemployed people aged 18 to 24 years receiving payment for six months required to undertake an additional activity in return for receiving payments.

High-income seasonal, contract or intermittent workers subject to a non-payment or preclusion period following cessation of employment. Income derived from period of seasonal work divided by average weekly ordinary time earnings (AWOTE). If the period that resulted from that calculation was longer than the period actually worked, the person was precluded from receiving a payment for the remaining period. Partners of these workers also precluded from receiving certain payments during the preclusion period. In the case of a worker with a partner, twice the amount of AWOTE used to calculate preclusion period.

1999
July

One-off crisis payment, equivalent to one week of allowance, introduced for people in hardship due to being forced out of their home because of, for example, domestic violence or house fire. The new payment also replaced the prisoner release payment.

1999
September

Community Development Employment Projects Scheme (CDEP) participants eligible for a fortnightly $20 participation supplement, RA, pharmaceutical allowance and a health care card.

2000
July

GST compensation

Allowances rates for all recipients increased by four per cent as part of a package of measures to compensate for the impact of the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Indexation provisions adjusted so that half of this increase was an advance on whatever rate increase occurred in March 2001, leaving an effective long-term increase of two per cent in the allowance rate.

Income and asset test free areas applying to allowances increased by 2.5 per cent as part of compensation package.

2001
April

Overpayments caused by administrative error became recoverable debts.

2001
July

Superannuation assets of those aged between 55 years and age pension age exempt from income and assets tests. Certain activity test breach penalties waived for recipients upon commencement in the Community Support Programme, a practice which already applied to those commencing a Work for the Dole project.

2001
September

Partners of personal injury compensation recipients no longer subject to dollar-for-dollar reduction of their payment. Instead once the compensation recipient's payment was reduced to nil by dollar-for-dollar deductions, the excess was treated as income under the income test for their partner.

2002
July

Activity test breach penalties waived if benefit recipients commenced participation in a rehabilitation program or a range of vocational training or labour market programs.

Breach penalties for not attending an interview ceased to be activity test breach penalties and were treated as administrative breach penalties.

2003
September

Australians Working Together

Australians Working Together, a 2001–02 budget measure, provided:

  • $20.80 fortnightly supplement for those participating in approved language, literacy and numeracy training programs.
  • Working Credit for those of workforce age on income support. Credits of up to $48 pf accumulated up to a total of $1000. Any income earned would reduce amount of credit accumulated each week on a dollar-for-dollar basis. In fortnights where earnings exceeded income test free area, accumulated credit would be reduced before any reduction was made to income support under income test.
  • NSA recipients aged at least 50 years able to participate in a broader range of activities in order to satisfy participation requirements. Penalties waived if recipients rectified any failure to comply with activity agreement conditions.
  • Mature Age Allowance (MAA) and PA closed to new entrants. Those unable to apply for MAA or PA eligible to apply for NSA instead.

Activity test breach penalties changed— penalty period for a first activity test or administrative breach shortened if recipient complied with activity requirements. Penalty period reduced from 26 weeks to 8 weeks for an activity test breach penalty and from 13 weeks to 8 weeks for an administrative breach penalty. Reduced breach penalties not available if recipient failed to start a job as planned; declined job interview offer; became voluntarily unemployed; dismissed from employment for misconduct; knowingly or recklessly declared incorrect earnings from employment; or failed to submit a satisfactory jobseeker diary.

2006
July

Welfare to Work

As a result of Welfare to Work, a 2005–06 budget measure:

  • New claimants for income support with disabilities and with partial capacity to work no longer eligible to apply for Disability Support Pension. Instead, most could apply for NSA and were required to seek suitable paid work of at least 15 hours per week.
  • New claimants for income support who were principal carers for children no longer eligible to apply for Parenting Payment if youngest child aged six years or older, if partnered, or eight years or older if single. Instead, most could apply for NSA and were required to seek suitable paid work of at least 15 hours per week. Access to child care and reasonable travel times taken into account in determining suitability of work. Principal carers could be exempt from requirement to satisfy activity test if affected by domestic violence, had children with a disability or illness, had a large family, or were foster carers, home or distance educators.
  • NSA recipients with a partial capacity to work or who were principal carers eligible for Pharmaceutical Allowance and a Pensioner Concession Card.
  • Very long-term unemployed people with a pattern of work avoidance could be required to undertake full-time Work for the Dole for 50 hours pf.
  • Recipients aged 55 years or more could satisfy job search requirements by undertaking at least 15 hours per week of voluntary or paid work. Younger recipients all had same job search requirements.
  • Penalties under compliance regime changed so that an eight-week non-payment period imposed after three participation failures within 12 months. Each participation failure resulted in a non-payment period lasting until compliance occurred.
  • Income test changed. Income between $62 and $250 pf reduced payment by 50 cents for each dollar of income. Income over $250 pf reduced payment by 60 cents for each dollar of income.
  • Debts resulting from knowingly incorrectly declaring earnings resulted in a one-off 10 per cent recovery fee rather than a fixed amount penalty.

2007
August

Income management

Social security payments could be subject to income management in Northern Territory and Cape York. Income management involved diversion of 50 per cent of recipient’s income support into an account that could only be drawn on to pay for priority needs, such as food, clothes and rent.

2007
September

Non-resident parents with care of a child between 14 per cent and 34 per cent of nights per year paid at ‘with child’ rate.

2008
July

Employment Entry Payment for long-term unemployed recipients moving into full-time work abolished.

2008
December

SEAM

School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) provisions commenced. Centrelink empowered to suspend for up to 13 weeks and then cancel income support payments if a recipient’s child does not comply with school enrolment or attendance requirements.

2009
April

From April 2009 to March 2011, in recognition of Global Financial Crisis (GFC) impact, liquid assets maximum reserve doubled so that those with liquid assets of over $5000 if single, or $10 000 if partnered, were subject to waiting periods of from one to 13 weeks, depending on amount they had.

2009
July

Changes to compliance framework. A job seeker who, without reasonable excuse, failed to attend an activity, job interview or interview with their employment service provider, committed a ‘connection failure’ and could be penalised equivalent of one work day of their basic rate of payment. Intentional and persistent failure to comply with obligations considered a ‘serious failure’ resulting in an eight-week period of non-payment.

Definition of ‘member of a couple’ changed to include same-sex couples.

From July 2009 to June 2011, temporary Training Supplement payable to job seekers who had not completed Year 12 or equivalent and were undertaking qualifying education or training.

2010
April

Disadvantaged income support recipients able to receive payments weekly rather than fortnightly.

2010
July

Principal carers with school-aged children eligible for participation requirement exemptions in specified circumstances, such as those who experienced domestic violence or cared for four or more children.

2011
March

Temporary doubling of liquid asset maximum reserve ceased.

2011
July

Immediate suspension of payments for job seeker failing to attend a scheduled appointment or activity. Payment reinstated and back paid when job seeker attended rescheduled appointment or resumed required activity. Payment suspended for job seeker failing to attend rescheduled appointment or resume required activity without reasonable excuse until they did so, without back payment.

2012
June

Clean Energy Advance paid to compensate those receiving allowances for expected impact of Carbon Tax.

2012
July

Eligibility age for NSA raised from 21 to 22 years.

SEAM extended compelling recipients to attend conferences regarding their child’s attendance, and to comply with school attendance plan.

For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.


© Commonwealth of Australia

In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.

To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to webmanager@aph.gov.au.

This work has been prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament using information available at the time of production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion.

Feedback is welcome and may be provided to: web.library@aph.gov.au. Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Entry Point for referral.

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print