Reduction of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts for teachers in very remote areas

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Types of assistance and general eligibility criteria

There are two types of assistance under this initiative:

  • waivers on indexation on accumulated HELP debt indexation, and
  • reduction of accumulated HELP debt.

Both types of assistance are available to teachers who are/were teaching in a very remote area of Australia, based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Remoteness Structure, at any of the following:

  • a school providing primary or secondary education
  • a centre based day care service
  • a preschool

To be eligible for either type of assistance, teachers must be normally resident in a very remote area during the period applied for (or temporarily located in a very remote area if temporarily employed). Teachers must also have already completed their initial teacher education qualification for their eligibility to commence and have a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP debt in relation to that qualification.

The term ‘normally resident in a very remote area’ (‘or temporarily located in a very remote area if temporarily employed’) means you must have a residential address where you live in a very remote area during your teaching period.

The term ‘initial teacher education qualification’ refers to the first teacher education qualification obtained that satisfies the minimum academic requirements for registration as a teacher by an authority of a state or territory

Waiving indexation on accumulated HELP debt

Application forms are now available for indexation waivers on your accumulated HELP debt. 

You may be eligible to apply if you are/were a teacher in a very remote area of Australia (based on the ABS Remoteness Structure) area on/after 14 February 2019. If your application is successful, your accumulated HELP debt indexation will be waived for your approved period for as long as you remain eligible.

Once you are no longer teaching in a very remote area, indexation on any remaining HELP debt will recommence.

Applicants must provide supporting documentation as listed in the application form for their application to be assessed.
Acceptable documentation may include but is not limited to copies of the following:

  • an ATO HELP debt statement showing your name and TFN (which can be accessed on the ATO portal through a MyGov account); and
  • a completed teaching qualification (including date completed); and
  • an employment contract(s) or other formal employment documentation that supports employment for the full period applied for; and
  • supporting document(s) to evidence you are normally resident (or temporarily located) in a very remote area(s) during your teaching period (for example a tenancy agreement or utility bill).

The application form can be accessed online:

If you have previously been approved for a waiver of indexation and you are seeking to extend your approved period, a shorter extension application form can be accessed online:

Reduction of accumulated HELP debt

Applications for reduction of accumulated HELP debts will be available from 2023.

To be eligible for a reduction of your accumulated HELP debt, teachers must:

  • complete four years of teaching full time, or the pro-rated part time equivalent in a six-year period, and
  • be teaching at one or all of the following:
    • a very remote school/s providing primary or secondary education
    • a centre based day care service
    • a preschool

The eligible teaching period is from on or after the start of the 2019 school year.

The debt to be reduced is limited to the HELP debt outstanding at the commencement of the teaching position when you become eligible, and to a maximum of five years of initial teacher education qualification related tuition costs. The department will work with you and the ATO to calculate this amount.

Lists of schools or centre based day care services in very remote areas of Australia

To be eligible, the address of your school or centre based day care service must be located in a very remote area of Australia during your teaching period based on the latest Remoteness Areas Structure published by the ABS. Please see the following lists below of schools and centre based day care services located in a very remote area.  

The list of centre based day care services operating in very remote areas:

The list of eligible preschools in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia:

The list of eligible primary and secondary schools:

Please refer to the Very remote schools list for preschools located in eligible locations in Western Australia and Tasmania.

You can view the Remoteness Areas online using the ABS Maps tool.

Contact us

Email: veryremotehelp@dese.gov.au

More information about reduction of accumulated HELP debt and waiver of indexation assistance can be found on the Frequently asked questions page.