Becoming Independent

Becoming independent at last. When the University offers are going out around the country to the year 12s, those who have not made arrangements for their 18-year-olds to start sorting themselves out yet, have to think about it soon.

What do they have to think about now that they are becoming more independent? Even those who are not yet moving out have to make suitable arrangements.

Government Services

The best way to keep track of your government services is through an online MyGov account. All the other government services, once established, can then be linked to this account.

Medicare

Most 18-year-olds will be on the Medicare card of a parent or guardian. Go to a Medicare office and get a form where you ask to copy the young person over to a new card. Unfortunately, this cannot be done online, you just have to take the time to go in and the young person needs to bring ID. NB – what account you put on this form. If mum or dad still pays the bill, they might want to get the refund. An independent card and account are important for the young person’s independence and for tax purposes.

Tax File Number

This is another thing that has to be done in person. You go to this ATO page for information. Decide if you want to go to the Post Office or a Human Services (Centrelink) office to submit your form or if you want to mail it – different forms for each option. Don’t forget to take ID, a learners license is not enough.

Lodging First Tax Return

Start here at the Tax office portal for lodging your tax return: ATO

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You will have to identify yourself and this can be the biggest issue for young people. If the MyGov portal does not hold the requested information, you cannot identify yourself. Should this be the case, go for option two – get a linking code by calling 13 28 61 between 8am – 6pm, Monday to Friday to speak with an operator. And no, you cannot get a linking code any other way.

Centrelink

Centrelink provides very good information and payments estimates calculator on their site. Follow the link provided to find out more. The basic payments for young people are: Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABStudy, and support for isolated children.

Student-specific payments include:

Education Entry Payment – a yearly payment.

Pensioner Education Supplement – payment to help with study costs if you get certain income support payments.

Student Start-up Loan – voluntary loan for eligible higher education students.

Do you have to move to study?

Fares Allowance helps with travel costs between your permanent home and place of tertiary study.

Relocation Scholarship is a once a year payment if you get Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY. You must also move to or from a regional or remote area for higher education study.

Living costs while a student:

Rent Assistance if you pay rent and get certain payments from us.

Low Income Health Care Card get cheaper healthcare and medicines.

All payments for dependent children under 22 depend on parents’ income. If your parents do not get any Tax benefit payments or other support payments, you are most likely not going to get any of the above payments. Centrelink apply a dependency test, so have a look:

If you’re younger than 22, you may be independent if you:

  • can show you support yourself through work
  • are, or have been, married or are in a registered relationship
  • live in a de facto relationship as a member of a couple for at least 12 months
  • have, or have had, a dependent child
  • are a job seeker and a Job Capacity Assessment determined you have partial capacity to work
  • are unable to live at home due to extreme circumstances
  • have parents who can’t look after you
  • are a refugee and your parents don’t live in Australia
  • are an orphan and haven’t been legally adopted, or
  • are in state care, or you left because of your age
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Other Services

Banking

If your 18-year-old does not yet have a bank account, it is about time. This is much more suited to the needs of a young adult, whether or not that young person earns an income. He or she will get around more independently and you can still easily support them by transferring money if need be. This way you are ready for Medicare, Centrelink, and Tax File Numer applications.

Help and Support

It can be a trying experience to grow up and become independent, especially as a young person will enter new social environments and break off from old ones with new expectations. Headspace is a national organisation that supports young people – go to the Community Services page on this website to find an office near you.

Lise Copeland
Author: Lise Copeland

Lise writes about current topics concerning young people, education and mental health. Can usually be found with a cup of tea discussing education policies or the latest research on a topic of interest when she’s not working full time. Lise has two kids at University and one in high school. They have attended State, Catholic and Independent schools in three States and Territories as well as overseas, providing plenty of background to her writing. Education: BA(Hons) with Philosophy, Latin and Ancient Greek languages and BA Law (LLB).

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