Joint Media Release: Delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

More than 2000 Indigenous Australian families with children who need to live away from home to access secondary school will benefit from an extra $5900 per year, on average, through changes to Family Tax Benefit that passed Parliament this week.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said families whose children go to boarding school and were supported by ABSTUDY would now receive Family Tax Benefit payments until their children finish secondary school.

“The passage of this legislation is great news for the many families who rely on Family Tax Benefit to assist with the cost of their children’s daily incidentals while away at school as well as their essential living costs when they are at home during school holidays,” Minister Ruston said.

“The Morrison Government is committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to access the best education possible as we work to close the gap in educational attainment.”

Year 12 attainment is a Closing the Gap target which is on track. The gap has narrowed 12 percentage points over the decade from 36 per cent in 2006 to 24 per cent in 2016.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt AM said helping families where financial circumstances may be a barrier to completing school was a practical move to help close the gap.

“Completing Year 12 can be transformational in a person’s life. Generally speaking students who complete Year 12 can expect greater employment and career opportunities,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This is why it’s vital we support the next generation of Indigenous Australians to finish school.”

The previous eligibility criteria stopped families receiving Family Tax Benefit for ABSTUDY boarding students when they turned 16 years old.

The changes that take effect from 1 January 2020 mean that Indigenous Australian families will continue receiving Family Tax Benefit until their children complete Year 12.

This $36.4 million investment builds on the ABSTUDY reforms the Government started in the 2018-19 Budget by helping Indigenous Australian families with the cost of accessing the best educational opportunities.

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