The Federal government has requirements for people aged 15 to 20 to ‘earn or learn’ in order to qualify for Youth Allowance. This means that anyone under the age of 21 who hasn’t finished year 12 must be studying or training in order to qualify for Youth Allowance. The rules apply to anyone aged 15 to 20, without year 12 or equivalent qualifications -either the final year of secondary school, or Certificate Level II and above.
Up until they complete Year 10, young people will be required to be in full time study in school or an approved equivalent. There does not appear to be much flexibility in what constitutes an ‘approved equivalent’. Alternative education providers will almost certainly have to offer the school certificate as part of their curriculum to qualify.
Beyond Year 10
Once a young person has completed Year 10, they will be required to participate in at least 25 hours per week of education, training or employment (or combination) until they turn 17.
There appears to be some flexibility in what constitutes education, training and employment other than completing the Higher School Certificate in a mainstream school. However, the formal guidelines for what constitutes education, training and employment beyond Year 10 are still being negotiated. It is not yet known when these guidelines will be made available.
Young people aged 17 to 24
For young people aged 17 to 24 there are no official requirements; however young people will be able to access subsided study or training places until 31 December 2010.
Consequences for not meeting the requirement
To be eligible for income support (Youth Allowance (other) and Family Tax Benefit Part A), young people under the age of 21 must either hold a Year 12 or equivalent qualification or be engaged in 25 hours per week of education or training. If a young person is participating less than 25 hours per week of education or training they must undertake additional activities to meet the 25-hour per week participation requirement.
For more information about ‘Earn or Learn’ check out the welfare rights fact sheet, they have plenty of fact sheets that will help you out with any questions you might have regarding your rights.