ParentsNext Frequently Asked Questions

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If your questions about ParentsNext are not answered below, please call your ParentsNext consultant or the National Customer Service Line on  1800 805 260 (free call from landlines).

What is ParentsNext?

ParentsNext is a supportive pre-employment program that helps parents and carers plan and prepare for work before their youngest child starts school.

As a ParentsNext participant, you can get help to:

  • figure out your study and work goals,
  • create a pathway to reach these goals
  • link to activities and services in your area, and
  • get financial help with the cost of starting study or work through the Participation Fund.

Providers can connect you to local activities and support services such as:

  • counselling
  • support if you are experiencing domestic and family violence
  • education and training including driving courses, courses to help improve your language, literacy and numeracy skills, accredited courses and university degrees
  • self-help and support groups (for example, homelessness intervention, financial counselling, Indigenous cultural activities)
  • work experience, voluntary work, part time/casual paid work.

They can also help with applying for childcare.

You do not have to look for work, but if you are ready to look for a job your provider will help you.

Who is ParentsNext for?

ParentsNext is for parents and carers who:

  • live in a Workforce Australia Employment Region
  • have been receiving Parenting Payment (partnered or single) continuously for the last 6 months
  • have a child who is at least 9 months and under 6 years of age
  • have not worked in the previous 6 months
  • are under 55 years of age, and
    • an Early School Leaver: that is, under 22 years of age; and have not completed the final year of school (or equivalent level of education), or
    • 22 years of age or over and have not completed the final year of school (or equivalent level of education); and have been receiving income support continuously for at least two years, or
    • have been receiving income support continuously for at least four years.

Centrelink will contact parents and carers if they appear to meet the criteria above. If they do, Centrelink will refer them to a ParentsNext provider for further information. Parents can choose whether they wish to be referred to a provider or not.

For more information on Workforce Australia Employment Regions, view the interactive map.

Can I still take part if I don’t meet the criteria?

If you get Parenting Payment and have a child under six, you can ask to take part in ParentsNext. You will get the same support and help (including access to the Participation Fund) that is provided to participants who are contacted by Centrelink.

If you want to take part in ParentsNext, contact your nearest ParentsNext provider. A full list of ParentsNext providers can be found by visiting the Find your employment service provider page on the Workforce Australia website or call Centrelink to talk about volunteering in ParentsNext.

What is an Engagement Support voucher?

From 11 March 2024, to help you engage with ParentsNext, providers can offer an Engagement Support voucher following your attendance at a face-to-face appointment. The Engagement Support voucher will be a store gift card of your choosing following discussion with your provider on the type of store voucher that will most benefit you.

  • New clients, will be offered an Engagement Support voucher valued at $100
  • Clients already taking part in the program, will be offered an Engagement Support voucher valued at $50

The Engagement Support vouchers will be capped at $250 per participant. Prior to the appointment you might want to think about the types of store vouchers that will help you the most.

What can I expect during my ParentsNext appointment?

During your first ParentsNext appointment, your provider will explain:

  • what the ParentsNext program is
  • what you can do in the program - such as attend appointments, choose activities to do, and make a Participation Plan
  • how they will help you reach your goals
  • your preference for the type of Engagement Support voucher that will benefit you the most, and
  • your rights while you take part in the program.

Providers will talk to you about your study or work goals and plan how to get there. They will also find local services that might help you with anything that is getting in the way of you reaching your goals.

Providers will also discuss with you the type of Engagement Support voucher valued at $100 that would most benefit you and issue a voucher for the goods and services according to your preference, as appropriate.

It is best if you meet with your provider at least once every three months so they can see how you are going and link you to any other support you might need. At appointments your provider will talk with you about your goals, your progress, any problems you are having, and how they can help you.

What is the Participation Fund and how can it help me?

All providers have access to the Participation Fund to help you meet your study or work goals.

Your provider may use the Participation Fund to help cover the cost of items such as training, licences, equipment and clothing items.

Please talk to your provider about help you can get through the Participation Fund.

What is a Participation Plan?

Participation Plans focus on your goals and personal circumstances. Together you and your provider will make a Participation Plan. Your plan needs to fit with your family life and you can choose activities that help you meet your goals. You aren’t required to look for work, but you can choose to if you are ready.

Your plan can be changed at appointments with your provider.

You can also update activities in your plan at any time by talking to your provider. You do not have to attend the activities or appointments in your plan if you’re not able to, and your Parenting Payment will not be affected if you don’t attend. Your provider can change appointments and activities if they don’t work for you.

Are there Mutual Obligation Requirements in ParentsNext?

No. As a ParentsNext participant, you do not have mutual obligation requirements. Your Parenting Payment won’t be affected if you don’t attend appointments or activities.

If you or your partner are working, you do need to report your income to Centrelink fortnightly.

Do I have to sign the Privacy Notification and Consent Form?

Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988 and social security law. Your ParentsNext provider will give you a Privacy Notification and Consent form. This will outline how your personal information is used.

You do not have to sign the consent form, however, not signing the form may limit the services your ParentsNext provider can help you with.

Are there specified hours of activity?

No. There are no specified hours of activity in ParentsNext. The type of activity you choose in your Participation Plan will affect the time you spend at the activity. For example, you might do volunteer work for two hours a week for four weeks, while a TAFE course may go for two hours, twice a week, for six weeks.

What happens if I miss an appointment or activity?

If you miss your appointment or activity, you should let your provider know, so they can make another time for you. Your Parenting Payment will not be affected if you miss an appointment or activity.

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

If you are finding it difficult to take part in ParentsNext, please talk to your provider. They can help you choose different activities that fit better with family life. They can also connect you with support services if you need it.

You can also take a break if you want to and come back to ParentsNext at a later time.

Do I stay in ParentsNext if I find a job?

Your provider will exit you from ParentsNext if you find employment which is averaging 15 hours per week or 30 hours per fortnight and you stay in your job for at least 12 weeks. You can stay in ParentsNext if you are working less than 30 hours per fortnight.

Employment could include (but it not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • part-time or full-time work
  • casual work
  • fixed-term contracts/li>
  • apprenticeships and traineeships
  • self-employment
  • commission and piece rate work.

Once you are earning an income, you will need to report your income to Centrelink.

If you no longer report income but remain on income support, you can choose to take part in ParentsNext again. For more information you can speak to Centrelink or your provider.

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.

Can I change my provider?

It is possible to change your provider if you think another provider can give you a better service. For more information you can talk to your provider or you can contact the National Customer Service Line on 1800 805 260 (free call from landlines).

Can I get help from other programs?

As a ParentsNext participant, you can access the following services for extra support:

Speak to your provider for more information about these programs and other support services.

Help in other languages

For help with English, call the Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450, for the cost of a local call. You can also ask TIS National to call the National Customer Service Line if you need information translated.