ECTs in very remote areas may be eligible for substantial HELP debt support, waivers
Early childhood teachers (ECTs) who are/were teaching in a very remote area of Australia, based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Remoteness Structure, may be eligible for waivers on indexation on accumulated HELP debt indexation and reduction of accumulated HELP debt.
Both types of assistance are available to those who worked/are working at any of the following settings in a very remote area:
- a school providing primary or secondary education
- a centre based day care service or
- a preschool
To be eligible for either type of assistance, teachers must be normally resident in a very remote area during the period applied for (or temporarily located in a very remote area if temporarily employed).
The term ‘initial teacher education qualification’ refers to the first teacher education qualification obtained that satisfies the minimum academic requirements for registration as a teacher by an authority of a state or territory.
ECTs may be eligible to apply if they are/were a teacher in a very remote area of Australia on/after 14 February 2019. Should an application be successful, the accumulated HELP debt indexation will be waived for the approved period for as long as the applicant remains eligible.
Once the teacher is no longer teaching in a very remote area, indexation on any remaining HELP debt will recommence.
Application forms are now available for indexation waivers on an accumulated HELP debt.
Applicants must provide supporting documentation as listed in Part D of the Application form, which must confirm:
- accumulated HELP debt, qualification attainment, residency in a very remote area, current employment details and period with employer.
Acceptable documentation may include but is not limited to the following:
- HELP debt statement showing applicant’s name and TFN (which can be accessed on the ATO portal through the applicant’s MyGov account);
- teaching qualification;
- employment contract(s) or other employment documentation (e.g. payslips) that supports the period applying for; and
- utility bills or rental agreement showing applicant’s name and address in (the same) very remote area of the school that the applicant’s is teaching.
Reduction of accumulated HELP debt
Applications for reduction of accumulated HELP debts will be available from 2023.
To be eligible for reduction of accumulated HELP debts, teachers must complete four years of teaching full time or the pro-rated part time equivalent in a six-year period, at a very remote school/s (or centre based day care services or preschool), commencing on or after the start of the 2019 school year.
The debt to be reduced is limited to the HELP debt outstanding at the commencement of the teaching position when the teacher becomes eligible, and to a maximum of five years of initial teacher education qualification related tuition costs, as determined by the Department and the ATO in unison with the applicant.
For a list of centre based day care services operating in very remote areas please see here. Eligible preschools in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia can be found here, with eligible preschools for Western Australia and Tasmania available here.