Most of us have heard of the Age Pension, Newstart Allowance and Family Tax Benefit payments but there are a range of other government benefits that may not be as well-known up for grabs. Many of these are offered by state governments.
You may have to meet certain conditions to be eligible but they can be worth looking into. Some are only available to certain concession card holders. And while they may not be huge amounts of money every little bit can certainly help.
Here are the details of just some of the lesser-known payments in each state and territory. These mostly relate to energy bills and kids school expenses or activities. You’ll find some information on eligibility requirements and how to apply but it’s best to visit the relevant website provided to get the complete picture of how these work and whether you may be eligible.
Secondary Bursary Payment up to $750 a year per student
The scheme provides assistance to low-income earners with dependent full-time students in years 7-10.
How much is on offer: The payment is up to $750 per year for eligible students but applications received after 1 July will be eligible for a half-year payment of $375 only.
Who is eligible: Students must be in years 7-10 or, if home schooled, be of an age where they would be enrolled in years 7-10. Applicants must have a current Centrelink Card or Health Care Card with means tested payment codes.
How to apply: You will need to complete an application form which you can get from the school or online and provide the proof requested.
Utilities Concession up to $700 a year
The Utilities Concession is a rebate towards the ongoing costs of electricity and gas services.
How much is on offer: The annual concession amount for 2019-2020 is $700. It is calculated on a daily basis, with rates depending on the season.
Who is eligible: You must have one of the following concession cards – Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card, Centrelink Low Income Health Care Card or Veteran’s Affairs Pensioner Concession Card or Gold Card Holders (Prisoner of War, War Widow or Totally Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) Embossed).
How to apply: You need to contact your energy provider. Registered providers under the scheme are ActewAGL Retail, Origin and EnergyAustralia.
Find out what else is on offer in ACT
It’s also worth taking a look at the ACT government’s Savings Finder tool which can help you track down the discounts, rebates and subsidies that may be relevant to you and provides information on how to apply.
New South Wales
Active Kids up to $200 a year per child
The Active Kids program provides vouchers for parents, guardians and carers of school-enrolled children to use towards sport and active recreation costs each year.
How much is on offer: You can get two $100 vouchers each year for each eligible child. The first voucher is valid from January to December and the second is valid from July to December.
Who is eligible: The student will be eligible if they are a NSW resident, aged between 4.5 and 18 years, enrolled in school and hold a current Medicare card.
How to apply: You can apply for an Active Kids voucher through your MyService NSW Account. You then present the voucher to the relevant business to get your discount. You can only use the voucher with registered providers.
Creative Kids up to $100 a year per child
The Creative Kids program provides vouchers for parents, guardians and carers of school-enrolled children to use towards creative and cultural activities each year. These can include performing arts, visual arts, coding, languages, literature and music.
How much is on offer: You can get $100 each year for each eligible child.
Who is eligible: The student has to be a NSW resident, aged between 4.5 and 18 years, enrolled in school and hold a current Medicare card.
How to apply: You can apply for an Active Kids voucher through your MyService NSW Account. You’ll need to provide your child’s name, date of birth and Medicare number. You then present the voucher to the relevant business to get your discount. You can only use the voucher with registered providers.
Toll Relief provides free or half-price car registration for frequent toll users.
How much is on offer: You can get free or half-price car registration.
Who is eligible: You need to have spent $1300 or more (about $25 a week) on tolls in the previous financial year to get free rego. If you have spent more than $780 or more (about $15 a week) on tolls you may be able to get half price rego. These figures are based on the 2019-2020 financial year and will increase by 4% each financial year. You must accumulate the eligible toll spend on one personal toll account.
How to apply: Make sure your toll provider has your correct contact details and information on the vehicle licence plates of cars you own. If you’re eligible you will be notified to apply for your free or half-price registration during the online renewal process.
Appliance Replacement offer up to 40% off the cost of a fridge or 50% off the cost of a television
With the Appliance Replacement offer eligible customers may be able to get discounts on new energy efficient fridges and televisions.
How much is on offer: Up to 40% off the cost of a fridge or 50% off the cost of a television. It only applies to selected fridge and television models.
Who is eligible: You must be a NSW resident and have a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Low Income Health Care Card from Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card.
How to apply: You can apply online and provide the information requested. If your application is successful, you’ll receive instructions on how to buy your appliance through The Good Guys.
Family Energy Rebate up to $180 a year
The Family Energy Rebate helps NSW family households with dependent children cover the costs of their energy bills.
How much is on offer: Up to $180 a year.
Who is eligible: You need to have been the recipient of the Family Tax Benefit (FTB) for the previous financial year and have had your entitlement to the FTB payments finalised by Centrelink. The same person that receives the FTB must be the account holder of an energy retailer.
How to apply: You can apply online or download and complete the PDF form. Applications for the 2019/20 financial year are closed but the 2020/21 Family Energy Rebate will be available in the new financial year.
Find out what else is on offer in NSW
If you’re a NSW resident and want to find out what else might be on offer you can use the Savings Finder tool or browse for government rebates and savings on the Service NSW website.
Sport Voucher up to $200 a year per child
The Sport Voucher scheme gives vouchers towards kids’ sport, recreation and cultural activities.
How much is on offer: You can get two $100 vouchers each year for each eligible child – one in January and one in July.
Who is eligible: The scheme is available to every school-enrolled child from preschool to year 12 and home-schooled children.
How to apply: You can apply online and then take the voucher to a registered provider.
Learn to Swim Voucher up to $200 a year per child
The Learn to Swim scheme gives vouchers towards swimming lessons.
How much is on offer: You can get two $100 vouchers each year – one in January and one in July.
Who is eligible: Your child must be under five years old and not enrolled in preschool or school.
How to apply: Your child must be registered for the water safety awareness program run by the Royal Life Saving Society before you apply for your voucher. You can then apply for a learn to swim voucher on the Grants Tracker website. (Applications open again on 1 July). You can then book lessons with the registered swim activity provider using your voucher.
Back to School Payment up to $150
The Back to School Payment provides students with an entitlement to receive educational items in term one of each school year.
How much is on offer: Up to $150 of educational goods and services for each child.
Who is eligible: Students enrolled and attending a Northern Territory (NT) school. This includes students enrolled at NT government and non-government schools and NT home-educated students.
How to apply: You need to contact the school your child is enrolled in and you can ‘purchase’ the items from them using your entitlement.
Electricity and Gas Rebates up to $414.45 a year
Queensland seniors and pensioners may be eligible for rebates on gas and electricity.
How much is on offer: Up to $340.85 per year as an electricity rebate and the reticulated natural gas rebate is worth $73.60 per year.
Who is eligible: You need to have one of the following:
- Pensioner Concession Card
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card (and receive the War Widow/er Pension or special rate TPI Pension)
- Queensland Seniors Card
- Commonwealth Health Care Card (Electricity Rebate only)
- Asylum seeker status—residents will need to provide their ImmiCard details (Electricity Rebate only).
How to apply: You need to contact your gas and/or electricity retailer and you may be able to apply over the phone. If you are eligible rebates are automatically deducted from your bill.
Textbook and Resource Allowance up to $281 a year per student
This is a payment to help parents of secondary school age children to contribute towards the cost of textbooks and learning resources.
How much is on offer: Students in years 7-10 could get $130 a year while students in years 11-12 could get $281 a year.
Who is eligible: Students attending state and approved non-state schools in Queensland and students in registered home schooling.
How to apply: The payment will be made to your child’s school and it will be passed on as a reduction in participation fees for the school’s ‘Student Resource Scheme’. If the school doesn’t operate a Student Resource Scheme, or you choose not to participate in the scheme, the school will pay the allowance directly to you.
Find out what else is on offer in Queensland
You can check out the Queensland government’s concessions and rebates website page to explore what else is on offer for Queenslanders.
Cost of Living Concession up to $215.10 a year
The Cost of Living Concession helps those on low or fixed incomes with their cost of living expenses, whether that be electricity, water, gas or medical bills.
How much is on offer: For the 2020/21 financial year, the concession amount per eligible household is:
- homeowner-occupiers: $215.10
- homeowner-occupiers who are self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: $107.60
- tenants: $107.60
Households that receive the JobSeeker Payment will get a once-off boost of $500 in 2020/2021.
Who is eligible: You may be eligible if on 1 July of the relevant financial year, you either hold an eligible card, receive an eligible Centrelink payment or meet low income provisions. A list of the eligible cards, payments and income limits can be found on the government website.
How to apply: You can apply online or download and complete the form and submit via email.
Sports Voucher up to $100 a year per child
The program provides primary school aged children to receive a discount on sports or dance membership/registration fees.
How much is on offer: Up to $100 a year per child.
Who is eligible: All primary school aged children from Reception to Year 7.
How to apply: There are two possible ways to claim. Talk to the provider as some have online registrations and claiming the voucher has been integrated into their systems. If not you can download the voucher and fill everything in. You can then take the voucher to an approved provider to receive a discount.
Find out what else is on offer in South Australia
Check out the SA government website for a list of some of the concessions available to residents.
Annual Electricity Concession
The Annual Electricity Concession provides a discount to eligible customers.
How much is on offer: The current concession is 140.740 cents per day.
Who is eligible: You must have one of the following: Pensioner Concession Card (Centrelink or Veterans’Affairs); Health Care Card; ImmiCard (Bridging Visa E); or Tasmanian Concession Card (issued by the Department of Premier and Cabinet). The name on the concession card must match the name of the account holder of the electricity account.
How to apply: You can contact your electricity retailer or download and complete the application form and send it to your electricity provider.
Ticket to Play up to $100 a year
Ticket to Play provides vouchers to help with the cost of sporting club registration.
How much is on offer: Up to $100 a year.
Who is eligible: Applicants must be aged between 5 and 17, be listed on a DHS HCC (Centrelink Health Care) or Pensioner Concession Card (either their own or their parent, guardian or carer’s) or be in Out of Home Care.
How to apply: You can apply online. The website is being upgraded and will reopen in mid-July.
Find out what else is on offer in Tasmania
The Tasmanian government has a special website which you can use to find out about the discounts and concessions available. It lets you browse by category or search by concession card or eligibility.
Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund up to $225 a year
This fund helps with paying for eligible students to attend school camps, sports and excursions.
How much is on offer: You can get $125 per year for eligible primary school students or $225 per year for eligible secondary school students.
Who is eligible: Students whose parent/carer has a Centrelink Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card; or Veterans Affairs Gold Card.
How to apply: Contact your child’s school to get a form which you will need to complete and submit.
Annual Electricity Concession of up to 17.5%
This is a discount on electricity usage and service costs for eligible customers.
How much is on offer: The concession is 17.5% of electricity usage and service costs. It is calculated after retailer discounts and solar credits have been deducted and doesn’t apply to the first $171.60 of the annual bill.
Who is eligible: You may be eligible if you have a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card. The energy account must be in your name.
How to apply: Call your electricity retailer and give your concession card details or you may be able to apply via your retailer’s website.
Find out what else is on offer in Victoria
For more information on the range of concessions and benefits available to Victorian residents check out this page for details.
Secondary Assistance Scheme up to $345 a year per student
This scheme aims to assist low income families with secondary schooling costs.
How much is on offer: It consists of two allowances – Educational Program Allowance of $235; and a Clothing Allowance of $115.
Who is eligible: Your child may be eligible if you have a Pensioner Concession Card, or Health Care Card or Department of Veterans Affairs Pensioner Concession Card.
How to apply: You can get the application form from your child’s school. You will need to provide proof of eligibility and a school officer needs to witness the application form. Applications must be completed in term 1 each school year.
School Dental Service for school-aged children
The School Dental Service provides free general dental care to eligible school children.
How much is on offer: Your child may get routine dental examinations or check-ups, oral health advice, extractions, fillings, X-rays and fissure sealants.
Who is eligible: All children/teenagers aged 5 to 16 attending a Department of Education recognised school are eligible.
How to apply: Your child’s school should provide you a form to complete. You can also call Dental Health Services on 9313 0555 or visit Dental Health Services’ website for more details.
Energy Concession Extension scheme from $305 a year
This scheme provides an annual payment to assist with electricity costs.
How much is on offer: The scheme consists of three payments – Energy Assistance Payment of $305, Dependent Child Rebate of $320 for one child and $84 for each additional child and the Air Conditioning Rebate of $59.75 per month. These rates are for 2019/2020.
Who is eligible: You may be eligible if you hold a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card, Veterans’ Affairs Gold card (TPI, War Widow and Dependent Child) or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. To be eligible for the Air Conditioning Rebate you must live in an area of high heat discomfort which is identified as locations north of the 26th Parallel of South Latitude and/or north of the 50-day Relative Strain Index line.
How to apply: If you are directly billed by Synergy or Horizon Power you should contact them directly but if not you can apply online.
Find out what else is on offer in Western Australia
You can use the ConcessionsWA website to find details on the rebates, concessions and subsidy schemes provided by the government of Western Australia. You can search by category, concession card type or people group.
Find ‘lost’ money
Another way you may be able to score ‘free money’ is to see if any ‘lost’ money belongs to you. Sure, it may technically not be free as it was yours to start with but it is money you might not know you have. There are a few different types of lost money. Here’s a guide.
Lost shares, bank accounts and life insurance
According to Moneysmart there is around $1.1 billion in lost shares, bank accounts and life insurance. “This money becomes lost when you move house and forget to update your details with a financial institution or company,” explains the website. You can search for unclaimed money on the Moneysmart website.
Sometimes an employer owes wages to an employee who has left their business and can’t be contacted. You can search the Fair Work Ombudsman website to see if you are entitled to any unpaid wages.
Money held by state governments
State governments may also hold some unclaimed money including lost share dividends, salaries and wages, cheques, over-payments and more.
NSW: Revenue NSW
Northern Territory: Department of Treasury and Finance
Queensland: The Public Trustee
South Australia: The Department of Treasury and Finance
Tasmania: The Department of Treasury and Finance or phone (03) 6166 4188
Victoria: State Revenue Office
Western Australia: Department of Treasury
About Effie Zahos
Canstar’s Editor-at-Large, Effie Zahos, has more than two decades of experience helping Aussies make the most of their money. Prior to joining Canstar, Effie was the editor of Money Magazine, having helped establish it in 1999. She is an author and one of Australia’s leading personal finance commentators, appearing regularly on TV and radio.
Main image source: hidesy (Shutterstock)