New service to simplify family assistance
More than 560 Family Assistance Offices (FAO) will open around Australia today, providing families with easier access to the enhanced family assistance payments being introduced as part of the New Tax System.
Launching the Queensland service at the Centrelink office in Toowong, Federal Minister for Community Services, Mr Larry Anthony said the new initiative would provide more than two million Australian families access to a single Commonwealth agency through which to receive payments and advice.
“It also gives them more choice about payment options and easier, improved access to services,” Mr Anthony said.
“Importantly, more than half the FAOs are located in regional and rural areas ensuring families outside metropolitan areas benefited from the initiative.”
Mr Anthony said the Government had been pleased by the strong response to the new streamlined system.
“Almost 90 per cent of Australian families on higher rates of family assistance have lodged their forms in response to the Howard Government’s national mail out in May this year,” Mr Anthony said.
“This means families who have correctly completed their forms can be assured they will immediately access their new benefits, many of which involve substantial increases in assistance.”
Families who still need to register for the family assistance payments, can fill out the data collection form and lodge it at their local FAO.
The FAO will be located in Medicare offices, ATO access and enquiry sites, and Centrelink outlets throughout Australia.
“Families who used to receive payments through three different agencies will now only have to deal with one – the Family Assistance Office,” Mr Anthony said.
Payments will be made directly into a family’s bank or credit account or alternatively, families can choose to receive their payments as a lump sum when they lodge their tax returns at the end of the financial year.
The new FAO will be open from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (local times may vary). Australian families can access the FAO hotline for the cost of a local call on 136150.