ABSTUDY Fares Allowance information for boarding schools and hostels
You have obligations for your students who get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance.
How you can help students
You can make travel requests for students who get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance. This will help students with travel costs if they get ABSTUDY and need to live away from home.
Before requesting travel for a student, you should discuss the student's travel needs with their family. If something disrupts the student’s travel, you need to make sure they can complete their trip safely.
You need to make all travel requests with us for all approved travellers. You also need to tell us if there are any changes to the travel details.
An approved traveller may be any of the following:
- education representatives
- family members
- community members.
Arrange a travel supervisor
If the student needs a supervisor, you, their hostel, or their parents or guardians can arrange one. We don’t provide supervisors for students.
If you’ve arranged travel over a weekend, you need to:
- make sure primary and secondary school students younger than 18 have a supervisor and a Safe Travel Plan in place
- give us the student’s emergency contact details when you book travel.
If something disrupts the student’s travel, you or the student’s supervisor, parents or guardians must help them complete their trip. They can claim ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for a reimbursement of extra accommodation or meal costs.
Make a Safe Travel Plan with your students
A Safe Travel Plan is an agreement between a student, their parents and school. It includes information like:
- how the student will travel
- whether they have a travel supervisor
- any details people may need during the trip, like medical conditions and medication
- what to do if something goes wrong during the trip.
Primary and secondary school students under 18, must have a Safe Travel Plan to pre-book travel using ABSTUDY Fares Allowance.
Read about Safe Travel Plans on the Department of Social Services website.
Make sure your students know their obligations
You need to make sure your students meet their obligations when you access ABSTUDY Fares Allowance for them. If you don’t, the student may get a penalty.
If you arrange travel for students, you must tell them to do all of the following:
- have a copy of their itinerary with them at all times
- have photo ID that matches the name on their ticket
- bring any medications they need
- have a contact number for your school or hostel, including one for after hours
- dress appropriately for travel carrier requirements, for example, they must wear shoes
- know the carry on and checked baggage allowances of their travel carriers
- follow the travel carrier’s rules at the transport terminal, including getting there early.
They also need to do all of the following:
- do what their supervisor says, if they have one
- behave as per school standards and expectations
- travel at the time booked, unless we’ve approved travel changes
- not stop mid trip, unless there are special circumstances we’ve approved
- stay at the transport terminal when waiting for a connecting trip.
Secondary students need to report any travel disruptions to their school or hostel.
When you’re ready to make a travel request, tell us the travel details and we’ll arrange the trip.
You need to request travel at least 6 weeks before the travel date, except for compassionate travel. If needed, you should make a request for compassionate travel as soon as possible.
When making a request, include all of the following:
- the names of all students, making sure they match the photo ID they’ll be carrying on the trip
- preferred travel dates for all students, noting weekend and after hours travel restrictions.
If the student is travelling with a supervisor, we also need to know all of their details:
- full name as it appears on their photo ID
- Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN), if they have one
- contact details
- preferred travel dates.
We also need to know all of the following for the student or supervisor. If they:
- will have excess baggage
- need accommodation and transfers
- won’t travel by a particular mode of transport, for example a small plane.
When you’ve confirmed travel arrangements, you’ll get a copy of the itinerary. Check the itinerary is correct. Contact us immediately if there are any problems with the departure and arrival dates or times.
You must give the parents or guardians and the student a copy of the itinerary. Make sure students are aware of their travel. Let them know they might be penalised if they miss travel.
Travel restrictions for students
Weekend travel, public holiday and interstate travel restrictions apply for secondary school students.
Students can travel between their place of study to their permanent home and back. We may also approve travel to or from other places if the location is on their usual travel route.
ABSTUDY primary and secondary school students may have to travel with a supervisor for the whole trip. Students must travel with a supervisor if any of the following applies:
- they’re younger than 12
- they’re younger than 18 and are travelling on weekends
- the travel provider says they need to
- a Safe Travel Plan fails to deal with disrupted travel
- they’ve missed 2 or more pre-booked trips during the year without a valid reason
- they haven’t met their travel responsibilities on previous trips.
We encourage ABSTUDY school students who are 12 to 17 to travel with a supervisor on trips where:
- they’re travelling to an educational institution for the first time
- there’s more than 1 mode of travel, for example a charter flight and a commercial flight
- there are long wait times between travel connections
- they can't get to their place of study in 1 day and need to stay overnight
- they have emotional or psychological challenges that need the support of a supervisor.
A supervisor can be any of the following, a:
- person from the student's community
- representative from the school or hostel.
Supervisors help students meet connecting travel. They also help if they miss their travel or something disrupts their trip. If a student needs to stay overnight, the supervisor must look after the student until they can rebook travel.
Supervisors may be eligible for a return trip from their home to the student's place of study. This is for all types of travel. The allowance may also cover overnight accommodation and meals. It doesn’t cover any loss of income.
Students may be eligible for a return trip between their home and place of study. This may be for any of the following reasons:
- to attend an interview before acceptance into a boarding school
- if they’re from a remote community and going away to board for the first time
- if they finished secondary studies last year and will do an approved tertiary course for at least 1 year.
Students, family and community members can get help to travel for an orientation. There’s no limit on how often they can access ABSTUDY Fares Allowance to travel to an orientation.
You’ll need to provide proof of the student’s orientation travel requirement before we can book their travel.
In some cases, it’s cheaper to have a school representative travel to a community to do interviews. You can do this if at least 6 students from the same community need to do enrolment interviews.
We may approve up to 2 representatives to travel to and from the community. You’ll need to show this will be the cheapest option before we approve the travel.
Special purpose visit travel
Students, family or community members may get up to 3 return trips between their home and place of study. They can get help to attend school activities like award ceremonies, sporting events or a graduation. They can also get help for travel when both of the following apply:
- a student is at risk of suspension or expulsion
- a visit from a parent, guardian or another person will help a student.
You’ll need to provide proof of the student’s special purpose travel requirement before we can book their travel.
If a boarding school expels a student, they need to arrange travel back to the student’s permanent home.
The parents or guardians and the school need to discuss and organise travel. Usually, expelled students can’t use ABSTUDY Fares Allowance to travel back to their permanent home.
Expelled students can only access the allowance if 1 or more of the following applies:
- the student is a possible risk to themselves or others
- the school followed all steps required under legislation, including contacting parents and authorities like the police or Child Protection
- the school has exhausted all local solutions, like moving the student to be with family members
- there’s no other source of funding from the school or family.
Complete a checklist to confirm that 1 or more of these issues apply. It needs to be signed by the principal or head of the school. And should include all of the following:
- an outline of what the school has done to try and fix the issue
- the name and contact number of the student’s parents or guardians
- a brief outline of the discussions with the parents or guardians and the outcome.
Suspended secondary students
Suspended students can’t get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance. The school should follow state requirements for managing suspended students and discuss the situation with the parents or guardians.
Parents or guardians may be eligible for a return trip to visit students at risk of suspension or expulsion. They can make the trip under orientation or special purpose visit travel up to 3 times a year.
Changing or cancelling travel we’ve arranged
We won’t approve changes to booked travel unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Exceptional circumstances may include any of the following. When the student:
- can’t travel due to illness or injury
- experiences the death of, or a funeral of an immediate family member
- needs to take part in a significant cultural event
- needs to change their travel destination because their parents or guardians have recently moved
- needs to change their travel plans because their school selected them for extracurricular activities after booking their travel.
You’ll need proof of the student’s situation before we can change their travel.
We need at least 24 hours notice to cancel travel arrangements.
If you need to change or cancel travel due to exceptional circumstances, we can rebook it for you. If the travel changes or gets cancelled for any other reason, we won’t rebook it. In this case, you or the parents or guardians will need to book and pay for the travel. We may reimburse you for the cost of travel.
Before sending us a travel request, think about when the student needs to be at school for:
- academic requirements
- planned school events, such as sports carnivals and school or religious camps
- culturally significant events that need student participation
- festivals, shows or social events such as formals
- extracurricular activities that need the involvement of selected students over the school holiday period.
Penalties for missed travel
There are penalties for students who miss travel we’ve booked.
For every trip they miss without a valid reason, they may get a debt of up to $100.
We’ll continue to pre-book travel for students, but they may get further debts for every trip missed.
If they missed travel due to an exceptional circumstance they may not get a penalty.
You need to make sure students know:
- what their travel arrangements are
- missing travel can impact them and their family
- they can get a debt for missed travel.
You can arrange for a supervisor to travel with a student to reduce the risk of them missing pre-booked travel.
If you pay for a student who can get ABSTUDY Fares Allowance, we’ll reimburse some or all of the cost. The amount will be the lesser of either:
- the most reasonable cost of travel
- the actual cost of the trip.
To claim reimbursement, complete and submit an ABSTUDY Fares Allowance Claim form.
Boarding schools and hostels can submit the form in any of these ways:
- by fax to 132 115
- in person at a service centre
- by posting it to the address on the form.
You must give us proof of travel such as tickets, dockets or receipts with the claim.
To get a reimbursement, you must submit your claim before 1 April in the year after the year of study.
Boarding schools and hostels can call us on 131 158 to discuss how to organise travel.
Where to get more information for students
Students can contact ABSTUDY on 1800 132 317 to discuss how to organise travel.
Page last updated: 12 June 2020
This information was printed 23 October 2020 from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/organisations/business/services/centrelink/abstudy-fares-allowance-information-boarding-schools-and-hostels. It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/site-notices when using this material.