The Australian Government has announced that, from 1 November 2024, a new voluntary pre‑employment service will provide support for eligible parents of young children.
Parents and stakeholders have been, and will continue to be, major contributors to the development and roll-out of the new service.
On this page:
What does a new service mean for parents?
The new service will maintain the Australian Government payments parents receive, and parents will continue to have ongoing access to current supports until the new service commences.
Parents told us that they want choice, flexibility, and support that aligns with their individual needs, including valuing their caring priorities. The new service will work with parents to identify their strengths and pursue their educational and employment goals. Parents will receive quality support provided by suitably qualified and experienced mentors. If they choose, parents will be connected with specialist services, helped with job readiness, or participate in training that meets their needs. Parents will be able to decide how financial support is used to help them to participate in the service and to achieve their goals.
The features of the new service respond directly to feedback gathered from parents and include:
- voluntary participation
- a flexible service that values parents’ caring role
- support by suitably qualified and experienced mentors
- ‘meets parents where they are at’ – both in location and in their lives
- clear information and choice about supports that are available
- support for parents to make their own choices in deciding their future
- practical financial support to parents, including:
- The Individual Fund assigned to the parent, to assist them to engage in the new service and build their capability, and
- The Pooled Fund, which will provide financial assistance for pre-employment supports and will be administered by service providers in consultation with parents.
To be eligible for the new voluntary pre-employment service, parents must:
- have a child aged under 6
- not be in paid employment
- live in a non-remote area.
Parents should be getting one of these payments:
- Parenting Payment
- Carer Payment
- Special Benefit.
Parents are also eligible if not getting a Centrelink payment, and are either:
- under 22 years old
- an early school leaver (parents who don't have a Year 12 qualification)
- First Nations.
Supporting ongoing feedback and continuous improvement
Continuing to listen to parents and stakeholders will be a priority. Embedded in the new service are features to support direct feedback about the service from parents with lived experience, and to support community organisations to deliver a quality service.
Parents Advisory Group
A Parents Advisory Group will be established to ensure parents with lived experience, and key stakeholders, continue to contribute to the development and, once up and running, continuous improvement of the new service. Their insights and feedback on what’s working and what’s not will be one way we ensure parents’ needs are met by the service.
Evaluation and capacity building
The service will undergo formal evaluation and ongoing monitoring. The department will work with providers to build and maintain capacity and foster continuous improvement in providing support for parents.
The service will be culturally competent, accessible, and provide for the needs of parents and their children. Clear information about the service will be made available to parents.
The department will undertake an approach to market process to engage organisations to deliver the new service. The approach will be designed to ensure that organisations with the relevant skills and experience, a close connection to local communities, and that present the best value for money, are engaged. The approach to market will be conducted in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
Australian Public Service delivery pilot
An Australian Public Service (APS) service delivery pilot will be part of the new service in one region or location. This allows APS capability building and leadership, a channel for direct feedback about the service, and the ability to trial new approaches.
Ongoing support for parents
Parents with children under 6 years of age will continue to have access to pre-employment services, child care subsidies and support to complete education and training while the new service is being implemented. The ParentsNext program will be extended for 4 months to facilitate this ongoing support. ParentsNext will continue to be voluntary.
Eligible parents accessing ParentsNext will be able to transfer to the new service, if they wish, when it commences from 1 November 2024.
Consultation and design
The new service is informed by extensive consultation. We have listened to what parents want and need to achieve the goals they have for themselves and their families. These insights are reflected in the new service. More information about the consultation process and findings can be found on the Consultation: A new voluntary parent support service page.
In the coming weeks and months more information will be released about the approach to market for the new service through Austender.