Frequently Asked Questions for Case Workers

What is the Transition to Independent Living Allowance?

Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) is a contribution of up to $1,500 from the Australian Government to help eligible young people pay for basic costs involved in moving from formal out-of-home care to independent living. TILA is also for eligible young people who continue to live with their foster carers after their care order expires or they are discharged from care.

Who is eligible for TILA?

To be eligible for TILA the young person must:

  • be an Australian citizen or permanent Australian resident who resides in Australia at the time of application for TILA
  • be aged from 15 to 25 years at the time of application
  • either has been in, or is currently in, formal care on a court order
  • left the care of the state or territory statutory department after the age of 15 years and was last in the department’s care for a continuous period of at least 6 months
  • either be approaching an exit from formal care (within twelve weeks of applying), experiencing an exit from formal care, or have exited from formal care
  • have the transition to independence plan
  • has not received the full amount of TILA assistance previously (i.e. can only receive up to a total of $1,500)
  • the young person and the case worker have agreed that the proposed use and timing of TILA is appropriate.

Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHM) are eligible for TILA.

A young person who is discharged from a court order or the order expires, and remains in the living arrangement (such as in the home of the foster or kinship carer or other residence) is eligible for TILA if all the other criteria also apply. TILA is to be used for the benefit of the young person and not for fixed items installed into premises not owned by the young person.

What is a transition to independence plan for the purposes of TILA?

A transition to independence plan for the purposes of TILA is a record of a young person’s goals and the support needed to achieve these goals.

You will need to discuss with the young person their needs, identify and record the next steps to achieve the young person’s goals, and decide if TILA is the appropriate mechanism to meet the young person’s support needs.

Transition to independence planning must consider the young person’s housing, financial security, health, life skills, education/employment/training, identity and culture, legal matters and social relationships/support networks.

The plan will need to be reviewed regularly.

At what age should a young person have a transition to independence plan?

Each young person is to have a transition to independence plan which can commence from the age of 15 years.

Is a young person eligible for TILA if they re-engage with a service after the age of 18?

If a young person wishes to apply for TILA but does not have a case/care plan in place, you will need to work with the young person to document the young person’s goals and meet the definition of a transition to independence plan.

Is TILA capped?

TILA is a $1,500 payment per person and may be accessed at any time the young person is in the eligible age range (15 to 25 years). TILA is available as a lump sum or in up to six instalments (minimum of $250 per application) as agreed between the young person and their case worker. A separate application must be made for each instalment.

You can discuss with the young person whether a lump sum payment or payment up to six instalments (at a minimum of $250) is the best approach for them.

What can TILA be used for?

The young person and you will need to work together to decide on the appropriate use of TILA as part of a transition to independence plan.

The allowance can be used for a range of support services as well as training and education materials such as:

  • housing – including connecting utilities, moving expenses and bond payment
  • essential household items – including appliances, whitegoods, furniture and consumables
  • life skills training – including financial/budgeting, nutrition/cooking and home maintenance
  • employment, education and training expenses – including books, a computer, enrolment fees, internet connection, clothing for work or interview and transport to undertake studies or employment
  • one-off transport expenses – including driving lessons and vehicle registration
  • public transport passes or other essential items that support a young person to access the above
  • counselling support – to address any issues identified in the transition to independence plan.

Can TILA be used for crisis assistance?

No, TILA is not designed to be used on an ad-hoc basis for crisis assistance.

What is the application process?

Applications for TILA can only be submitted via the Department of Human Services Unified Government Gateway (UGG) by a registered worker in an approved agency. Instructions for registering for access to the UGG can be found at Appendix 3 of the Operational Guidelines.

There are two steps in the TILA application process:

  1. Assessment – the case worker and young person discuss the transition to independence plan. The case worker will assess whether the young person is eligible for TILA, and if TILA is applicable. If the young person is eligible and TILA is applicable the case worker must complete, and both parties sign, the TILA application form and retain the form for the organisation’s records.
  2. Claim lodgement - the case worker completes and submits an electronic claim via the UGG. The payment will be made by the Department of Human Services.

A case worker must support the young person in transition planning. Administration staff may complete step 2.

Our step-by-step guide will help you with the TILA application process.

Why are the payments made by the Department of Human Services?

Payment by the Department of Human Services streamlines the payment process, ensures greater flexibility through enabling payment by instalments and facilitates national access.

When should TILA applications be made?

TILA applications for this financial year should be made by 17 June 2016. Applications after this date will be approved in the new financial year.

If one of your young clients previously received a partial TILA payment of less than $1,500, they can apply for the remainder of the $1,500 this financial year, or wait until the following financial year.

Is TILA regarded as income for means test purposes?

TILA is not regarded as income for means test purposes under Section 8(8)(c) of the Social Security Act 1991.

Is TILA an assessable income for tax purposes?

TILA is not an assessable income for tax purposes.

What other support is available to young people leaving care?

Young people leaving care can access a range of Australian Government payments and services, such as Youth Allowance, Reconnect and jobactive. For more information visit Support services for young people moving to independent living.

Where can I find more information?

If you have any further questions please contact the TILA Office at tila@dss.gov.au, telephone 1300 653 227 or visit Transition to Independent Living Allowance.

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