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

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).

Frequently Asked Questions about the enhancements to ParentsNext from
1 July 2021

I am in ParentsNext. What do the changes mean for me?

If you are a ParentsNext participant, you do not need to do anything right now.

From 1 July 2021, the program 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.

What are the changes to eligibility from 1 July 2021?

From 1 July 2021, parents or carers will be eligible for 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.

Parents who are already studying or are on extended leave with a job to return to will be exempt from the program. This recognises that some parents are already preparing to enter or return to the workforce.

How do I use the Participation Fund to enrol in a training course?

You should talk to your provider about the Participation Fund if you would like to find out more. From 1 July 2021, providers will have access to the Participation Fund for all eligible participants. The Fund can be used to help meet participant’s education and employment goals. For example, this funding could be used to fund a Certificate III course or to purchase clothing and equipment items to take up stable employment, if the participant is ready to.

What if I am no longer eligible for the program from 1 July 2021?

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria that will come into effect from 1 July 2021, you will be exited from the program automatically by Services Australia. You can continue to volunteer into ParentsNext as long as you remain on Parenting Payment and have a child under six. Voluntary participants in ParentsNext receive the same level of servicing as compulsory participants including access to supports such as the Participation Fund.

Participation (Mutual Obligation) Requirements for ParentsNext participants

From early March 2021, 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.

Participants’ 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 restrictions or local health advice, physical distancing requirements and biosecurity measures. Where there are short term adjustments, impacted participants are advised directly and the website is updated with information on the changes.

For more information, see the Return to Face to Face Servicing Participant Fact Sheet

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

From 7 December 2020, changes will be made to further support participants to meet their participation (mutual obligation) requirements.

Participants* who miss a participation (mutual obligation) 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 to advise them they must 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 participation requirements.

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

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

Who takes part in ParentsNext?

ParentsNext is for parents and carers who:

  • have received Parenting Payment for the last 6 months
  • care for a child under 6 years of age, and
  • have not reported paid work to Centrelink in the last 6 months.

You may be required to participate in ParentsNext if you meet these circumstances. For more information on eligibility, please refer to the ParentsNext Eligibility, Referral, Direct Registration and Commencement guideline or contact the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from landlines).

I haven’t been asked to take part in ParentsNext, but I’d like more help to get work ready. Can I still take part In ParentsNext?

If you:

  • have a child under 6 years of age
  • receive a Parenting Payment and
  • live in the one of the locations below:
    • NSW: Bankstown, Wyong, Shellharbour, Dubbo, Sydney‑Central, Mid Coast, Orange, North Coast, Tamworth
    • NT: Darwin-Palmerston, Alice Springs
    • SA: Playford, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta & Whyalla
    • Qld: Cairns, Logan, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Mackay, Townsville
    • WA: Kwinana, Perth-South, Perth-East, Geraldton and Broome
    • TAS.: Burnie and Brighton
    • VIC.: Greater Shepparton, Hume and Mildura.

You can choose to participate in ParentsNext if you live in one of the locations above.

Centrelink can refer you to a ParentsNext provider or you can call or visit a ParentsNext provider in your area to discuss getting ParentsNext help. 

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

If you are having difficulties, please talk to your consultant. They may change your activity or consider an exemption.

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

You can also talk to Centrelink about an exemption*.

Reasons for exemptions could include:

  • you have a serious health issue
  • domestic and family violence
  • there’s a 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 consultant 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.

*From 21 September 2020, Centrelink can consider granting the full range of exemptions to ParentsNext participants.

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.

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 consultant beforehand to avoid having your payment put on hold.  

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

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

You may get a demerit if you did not have a valid reason for not attending a requirement or signing your plan. 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 the social security law. Your ParentsNext consultant will provide you with a Privacy Notification and Consent form that outlines how your personal information will be used.

You can choose not to sign the consent form and your sensitive information (e.g. medical information) will not be passed on. This may limit the services your ParentsNext consultant 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