Several measures announced in the Budget 2023-24 benefit Farm Household Allowance (FHA) recipients:
- The changes started from 20 September 2023:
- An increase to the base rate of Farm Household Allowance by $40 per fortnight (further indexed for CPI)
- Higher rate of FHA to single recipients aged 55 and over who receive the payment for 9 or more continuous months, and
- Increase to the maximum rate of Rent Assistance by 15 per cent.
- Energy Relief Payments from 1 July 2023 to provide support with rising energy prices. To find out more, visit Energy Bill Relief.
- As FHA recipients receive a Health Care Card, they can benefit from the increased bulk bill incentives for GP visits and telehealth consultations. To find out more visit the Department of Health and Aged Care.
- Increased dispensing limit of 2 months for some PBS medicines, rather than the current one-month supply limit. This change will mean fewer visits to the doctor and the pharmacy and lower out-of-pocket costs for some common medicines. To find out more visit the Department of Health and Aged Care.
The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) program provides assistance to farming families experiencing financial hardship for any reason.
The program provides eligible farmers and their partners with a package of assistance that includes:
- up to four years of fortnightly income support (in every 10 year period)
- ancillary allowances such as Pharmaceutical Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Rent Assistance and Remote Area Allowance
- a professional financial assessment of the farm business (worth up to $1,500)
- funding to help develop skills, access training and pay for professional advice (up to $10,000 and can include reasonable travel and accommodation to undertake training).
- regular support of a case manager.
From 2019, the Australian Government simplified the FHA application process and key policy settings, in response to an independent FHA review that was undertaken in 2018.
The Australian Government’s response to the Review includes a number of key amendments to legislation and simplification of processes.
- exempting the profit from the forced disposal of livestock that is put into a Farm Management Deposit, from the income test
- lifting the off-farm income threshold to $100,000 and allowing anyone running at a loss to access the offset
- treating income from directly–related businesses (eg. agistment) as primary production income
- redesign of the application process – a new online claim that can be used by both members of a couple
- paying the maximum rate only (or nothing if the income is above the thresholds)
- simplifying the assets test to remove the distinction between farm and off-farm assets. There is a single threshold of $5.5 million net assets for singles and couples
- changing the definition of who can complete the Farm Financial Assessment. The definition has been expanded to include farm consultants and Rural Financial Counsellors
- increasing the amount of the Activity Supplement to $10,000 in a person’s lifetime and allowing funds to be used for reasonable travel and accommodation to undertake training
- removing the requirement for business income reconciliation (BIR) from 1 July 2020.
Business Income Reconciliation Waiver
Most FHA debts caused by an incorrect estimate of business income between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2020 are eligible for a waiver.
Services Australia is processing the outstanding reconciliation cases. To be eligible for the waiver, all taxation paperwork for the relevant financial year(s) must be given to Services Australia before 30 June 2023. This includes:
- Personal tax returns
- Partner’s personal tax returns (if you have a partner)
- Business balance sheets for 30 June of the relevant financial year
- Business tax returns
- Business profit and loss statements
- Business depreciation schedules.
Do you have questions? Contact the Farmer Assistance hotline on 132 316 between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
Check if you are eligible for Farm Household Allowance.
- are a farmer
- are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- are at least 16 years of age
- have a right or interest in land and use it for a farm enterprise - this includes leasing and sharefarmers but excludes farm workers.
- is in Australia
- has a significant commercial purpose or character.
- contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm enterprise (this may exclude some younger generation farmers in multi-generational family operations where they have not contributed any capital)
- enter into an activity agreement to make changes to improve your medium and long-term financial security (called a financial improvement agreement), or have one in place already.
You can apply as a farmer, or as a farmer’s partner (if you are not involved in the farm).
Each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
You cannot receive FHA if you:
- receive other pensions or social security benefits and are not prepared to give them up
- have already received the payment for 4 years (in the 10 year period)
- do not meet the criteria in the legislation (explained in the guidelines).
You can get help to understand and apply for Farm Household Allowance. Specially trained staff are available on the Farmer Assistance hotline at Services Australia, call 132 316 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
You can also talk to a Rural Financial Counsellor. It is a free service. They will evaluate your situation and let you know what you can apply for. Find your local service provider by visiting the Rural Financial Counselling Service locations webpage.
See all drought and rural support we provide.
Payments and support
You can get Farm Household Allowance for up to 4 years (1,460 days) at any time between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2024. You can apply for your second tranche of four years from 1 July 2024. FHA gives you time to improve your circumstances. You do not have to receive all payments in one go. You can stop and start your payment as many times as you like. Stopping and deferring your payments can save them up for future hardship. You will also get ongoing support from your own:
- Farm Household Case Officer (FHCO)
- Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC) (if you choose).
Applications and payments are managed by Services Australia.
Call the Farmer Assistance hotline on 132 316 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.