ParentsNext Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the key questions parents have about ParentsNext.

On this page:

For the latest COVID-19 health advice updates and information about temporary contingency arrangements for ParentsNext participants, please visit the COVID-19 page for job seekers https://www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/job-seekers

If you still have further questions about ParentsNext, please call your ParentsNext consultant or the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from landlines).

I am in ParentsNext. What do the changes from 1 July 2021 mean?

From 1 July 2021:

  • ParentsNext will be streamlined into a single service to allow providers to focus on delivering tailored support to all eligible parents, regardless of where they live.
  • All ParentsNext providers will have flexible access to the Participation Fund to help participants meet their education and employment goals.
  • All participants will be eligible for relocation assistance and employer wage subsidies, subject to separate eligibility requirements.

In preparation for the changes, participants who appear unlikely to meet compulsory participation requirements from 1 July 2021 have been sent a ‘Changes to ParentsNext’ letter from Services Australia.

If you are no longer required to participate in ParentsNext from 1 July 2021, you will be exited from the program automatically by Services Australia. However, you may volunteer to continue to participate as long as you remain on Parenting Payment and have a child under six.

Volunteer participants in ParentsNext receive the same level of servicing as compulsory participants including access to supports such as the Participation Fund, wage subsidies and relocation assistance, subject to separate eligibility requirements.

Speak to your ParentsNext provider about continuing as a volunteer.

Who is ParentsNext for?

From 1 July 2021, parents or carers must  participate in ParentsNext if they:

  • have been receiving Parenting Payment (partnered or single) continuously and not engaged in work in the last six months
  • have a youngest child who is at least nine months and under six years of age
  • are under 55 years of age; and
    • are under 22 years of age and have not completed the final year of school (or equivalent level of education) or
    • are 22 years of age or over; have not completed the final year of school (or equivalent level of education); and have been receiving income support continuously for more than two years or
    • have completed their final year of school and been receiving income support continuously for more than four years.

Centrelink will contact parents and carers, and, if they are required to participate, refer them to ParentsNext provider.

From 1 July 2021, parents who are already studying or are on extended leave with a job to return to will not be referred to the program. This recognises that some parents are already preparing to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Can I volunteer in ParentsNext?

From 1 July 2021, any Parenting Payment recipient with a child under six can volunteer to participate in ParentsNext. Volunteers receive the same tailored support and assistance (including access to the Participation Fund) that is provided to compulsory participants.

For more information about volunteering in ParentsNext, find your nearest ParentsNext provider at: https://jobsearch.gov.au/service-providers.

What is ParentsNext?

ParentsNext is a pre-employment program that helps parents and carers plan their next steps towards study or future employment.

ParentsNext participants get assistance to identify their education and employment goals, develop a pathway to achieve these goals and connect with appropriate activities and services in their local community.

Taking individuals needs and circumstances into account, providers connect participants to local activities and support services such as;

  • counselling
  • financial advice
  • support if experiencing domestic and family violence
  • parenting courses
  • child care
  • transport
  • further education
  • secure housing
  • training or voluntary work.

Participants do not have to look for work, however if a participant is ready to look for a job and chooses to do so, their provider will assist them.

What is the Participation Fund and how can it help me?

From 1 July 2021, all providers will have access to the Participation Fund to help participants to meet their education and employment goals.

The Participation Fund is a flexible pool of funds providers can use to help participants prepare for education and employment. For example, a provider may access the Participation Fund to contribute to the costs of a training course or materials, or towards the purchase of licenses, equipment and clothing items to help a participant into employment, if this is something the participant is ready for.

All purchases made through the Participation Fund must provide participants with the tools, skills and experience to help them achieve their education and employment goals.

Please talk to your provider about requesting assistance from the Participation Fund.

Participation (Mutual Obligation) Requirements for ParentsNext participants

ParentsNext participants are required to:

  • attend an initial ParentsNext appointment (generally in person) and then every three months (attendance at these subsequent appointments can be in person/phone/online)
  • negotiate and agree to a Participation Plan
  • participate in and report on having done the activities they agreed to do
  • report to Centrelink each fortnight about any income they have earned.

Participants’ Parenting Payment may be put on hold if they do not meet these requirements and do not contact their provider and re-engage.

ParentsNext providers are required to ensure the services they provide are managed in accordance with local health advice. Your provider is also required to have a COVID-Safe Plan to ensure they have in place appropriate measures for you and your child/ren’s safety.

When receiving face-to-face servicing, you need to follow all COVID-19 related procedures set in place by your provider, in line with local health advice.

If you or your child/ren are sick, have been to a recent COVID-19 hotspot or have been told to self-isolate by health authorities you must not attend an appointment in person.

It is important that you inform your provider as soon as possible to discuss your situation and ensure your payment is not put on hold.

Participation (mutual obligation) requirements throughout Australia continue to be adjusted for short periods from time to time in line with health advice, physical distancing requirements and biosecurity measures. Where there are short term adjustments, impacted participants are advised directly and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website is updated with information on the changes.

Support for participants to meet their participation (mutual obligation) requirements

In December 2020, changes were made to how the Targeted Compliance Framework operates.

ParentsNext participants* who miss a requirement will have two business days to contact their provider before their payment is put on hold.

If participants miss a requirement, they will receive a text message, an email or an inbox message telling them to contact their provider immediately.

Participants are strongly encouraged to keep in regular contact with their provider and let them know in advance if they are experiencing any challenges in meeting their requirements.

Mutual obligation requirements throughout Australia continue to remain subject to health advice, physical distancing requirements and biosecurity measures.

For more information see the changes to the Two day business payment suspension delay Fact Sheet link.

*who are in the Green Zone or Warning Zone on their jobactive dashboard.

What happens if I have other things going on in my life that make it difficult to take part in ParentsNext?

If you are having difficulties participating in ParentsNext, please talk to your provider. They may change your requirements or consider an exemption.

An exemption means you don’t have to participate for an agreed period of time. You can still get help and support from your ParentsNext provider if you need it.

You can also talk to Centrelink about an exemption.

Reasons for exemptions could include, but are not limited to:

  • serious health issue
  • domestic and family violence
  • death in the family
  • being pregnant and within 6 weeks of your expected due date
  • Indigenous cultural business
  • being a primary carer for 4 or more children
  • approved home-schooling.

If your provider does not give you an exemption, you can ask them to review their decision. 

If you are not happy with their response, you can request an independent review of the decision by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment by calling the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260.

If you are still unhappy with the review outcome, you can appeal the decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

How do I provide feedback about ParentsNext and/or my provider?

You can contact the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from landlines) or complete the ParentsNext Complaints, Compliments and Suggestions form.

Can I change my provider?

Yes, you can request a change of provider if you think another provider can provide you with a better service. You can do this by talking to your provider or if you would prefer you can contact the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from landlines).

Can I get help from other programs?

ParentsNext participants can access the following services (if eligible) for additional support:

Speak to your provider for more information about these programs and other support services.

What happens if I miss an appointment or activity, or forget to report my attendance? 

If you can’t meet a requirement (signing your Participation Plan, attending an appointment or activity or reporting your attendance), it is important that you tell your provider beforehand to avoid having your payment being put on hold.  

We understand that sometimes you can’t contact your provider before an appointment or activity. If you miss a requirement, please contact your provider as soon as possible so they can schedule another requirement. 

If you are having trouble reporting your attendance, talk to your provider. They can report your attendance on your behalf. This means you will need to tell your provider when you have attended, or make sure they can contact you to confirm you attended. 

If you miss a requirement you will have two business days to contact your provider and provide a reason for missing the requirement before your payment will be put hold.

If you provide a valid reason within two business days your payment will not be put on hold. If you make contact after two business days your payment will be put on hold. If you provide a valid reason the hold on your payment will be removed and you will receive your payment at your next pay day.

If you do not provide a valid reason your provider will set a new requirement which you must meet within two business days. If you do not meet the requirement your payment will be put on hold and you will receive a demerit on your jobactive dashboard.

If you get three demerits you will have an interview with your provider to make sure your Participation Plan is right for you. If you get five demerits you will have a Capability Assessment with Centrelink. Each demerit expires after six months.

If you keep failing to meet your requirements over time, you may lose part of your parenting payment – or have it cancelled. 

Do I have to sign the Privacy Notification and Consent Form? 

Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988 and social security law. Your ParentsNext provider will provide you with a Privacy Notification and Consent form that outlines how your personal information will be used.

You do not have to sign the consent form, however not signing the form may limit the services your ParentsNext provider can help you with.

Help in other languages

For help speaking or understanding English, call the Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 for the cost of a local call. Ask them to call the National Customer Service Line if you need information translated.

We have information about ParentsNext available in other languages. Visit our information in other languages page.

Where can I get find more information on ParentsNext?

More information on ParentsNext can be found in the Explainer: ParentsNext article on the department’s Newsroom.