The new Child Care Subsidy: Frequently asked questions
With the new Child Care Subsidy fast approaching, it is essential that parents understand what is changing and how these changes will affect them.
Under the new system, a parent’s level of activity will determine what subsidy they are eligible for.
Parents have to meet an “activity test” in order to receive the Child Care Subsidy.
We’ve noticed that many families are asking similar questions about the activity test so we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions to help you navigate the new system.
What is changing?
While the current Child Care Benefit/Child Care Rebate system is focussed on a work test, the new Child Care Subsidy bases the number of hours of subsidised care on the level of recognised activity.
Understanding the different types of activity that will be recognised is key to maximising your child care subsidy.
What is an activity?
To be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy you must meet the activity test, which includes:
- paid work (including leave)
- study and training
- unpaid work in a family business
- looking for work
- other activities on a case by case basis
Many families aren’t aware that you can also include reasonable travel time to and from your place of activity to your child care centre.
What is the activity test?
The activity test is a three-step test to determine your level of Child Care Subsidy. In a two parent family, both parents must meet the activity test and a family’s Child Care Subsidy will be based on the parent with the lower number of hours.
Families must update their income estimate and provide details about their activity through their myGov account as soon as possible. This information will be used to calculate the Child Care Subsidy percentage.
What if I am a shift worker or work irregular hours?
If you’re a shift worker, or you work irregular hours you will need to estimate the number of hours you work per fortnight over a three-month period. This can include a reasonable amount of time to travel to and from your child care service to your place of activity.
Remember to estimate the highest number of hours you will require over three months, even if you don’t require those hours every day.
This will give you the flexibility to work additional hours, knowing you will be receiving subsidised care.
If your irregular hours change, you can update them through your myGov account.
My activity levels will change regularly. How do I update this information?
You can change or update your activity test details whenever you need to. You will do this via your myGov account.
Updating your details whenever they change will help you avoid getting a debt.
How do I prove how many hours I work, study or volunteer?
Parents need to log their activity through their myGov account. You don’t need to provide any evidence at the time of declaring your activity, however the Department of Human Services will be performing normal random spot checks, so you should keep a record of any activity you do.
Evidence could include a copy of a payslip, a letter from the organisation where you volunteer, evidence of job applications, etc.
You can change or update your activity test details whenever you need to through your myGov account.
I am looking for work- is this an activity?
Actively looking for work is a recognised activity. If it's the only activity you do, you will meet the first step of the activity test, which is 36 hours of subsidised child care per child, per fortnight.
You can combine actively looking for work with another recognised activity such as an approved study course to receive further hours of subsidised child care.
How do I calculate my study hours to meet the activity test?
When calculating part-time or full-time study hours include course contact hours, study outside course contact hours, and breaks such as term breaks.
You will need to undertake at least eight hours of study per fortnight to be entitled to 36 hours of subsidised child care per child, per fortnight.
What about grandparents who care for their grandchildren?
Grandparents who are the primary carers for their grandchildren are exempt from the activity test.
Is parental leave considered an activity?
If you undertake paid work, and paid or unpaid parental leave is a condition of your employment (as an employee or contractor), then this is considered to be part of your paid work.
The hours of activity will be the same as what they were immediately prior to you commencing parental leave but it needs to be at least eight hours per fortnight.
So, if you were working part-time or full time, then you are still considered to be a part-time or full-time employee while you are on parental leave. This is the same as the current system.
There is no time limit on the amount of time you can be on unpaid parental leave but there is an expectation that you will be returning to work at some point as a condition of your employment.
I'm a teacher. Does the work I do at home count towards my activity hours?
If you are a teacher, school holidays count as they are part of your conditions of employment. Planning lessons at home would be considered to be part of your normal requirements and wouldn't count as extra activity hours.
Is working in a family business a recognised activity?
Yes. Working in a family business owned by a member of your immediate family such as your partner, your parent or your parent's partner, a sibling, one of your adult children or their partner, or another person as determined by the Department of Human Services, is a recognised activity.
What is approved study?
An approved course of study means a secondary or tertiary course. The study activity requirements will include:
Is being self-employed a recognised activity?
- level two (Certificate II) to 6 (Advanced Diploma, Associate Degree)
- level 8 (Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma)
- level 7 (Bachelor Degree)
- a secondary course or preparatory course
Being self-employed is a recognised activity, as is setting up a business (for a maximum of six months).
Is volunteering a recognised activity?
Yes. Voluntary work that meets the activity test includes:
- Activities which could be expected to improve your work skills and/or employment prospects.
- Voluntary work for a charitable, welfare or community organisation.
- Voluntary work for a school, preschool or centre based day care service, if the work directly supports the learning and development of the children at the school, preschool or service. An example of this would be participating in a reading program. However, being on the Parents and Citizens Committee, or working in the school canteen, are considered parental duties and would not be considered a recognised activity.