Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

More help for Australian families

Extra assistance for Australian parents returning to work following the birth of a child and the extension of Maternity Payment for adopted children will now be available with the passage of legislation.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced the Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (Family Assistance and Related Measures) Bill 2005 has been passed by Parliament.

“This legislation includes part of the Howard Government’s More Help for Families package announced in the 2004-05 Budget, which will support an estimated 130,000 parents who return to work each year after the birth of a child,” Senator Patterson said.

“From 1 July 2005, secondary or lower earners in a couple may be eligible for the maximum rate of the Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part B for the period in the financial year that the parent was caring for a child at home and not on paid leave, before returning to work.

“Eligibility for the measure will be determined after the end of the relevant financial year on reconciliation of fortnightly FTB payments or when determining lump sum claims.

“Under the measure, a parent is considered to have returned to work when they engage in paid work for an average of 10 hours a week for four consecutive weeks.

“This change will ensure families receive the correct payments for the period in the financial year before they returned to work giving them real choices about balancing their work and family responsibilities.

“The legislation also includes the extension of Maternity Payment for adopted children announced in the 2005-06 Budget.

“Parents adopting children up to the age of two years from Australia and abroad will now be eligible for the Maternity Payment (if it has not been paid for the child previously). The previous age limit for Maternity Payment for adoptions was 26 weeks.

“This extension of the payment recognises that most adoptions, both local and overseas, take time to complete and that families who adopt children under the age of two face similar costs to families with newborn babies.

“The Howard Government is committed to supporting Australian families and these two new measures will provide further support and assistance for those families,” Senator Patterson said.

Further information for families is available from the Family Assistance Office or by calling 13 6150.