Participation Age Requirements - Frequently Asked Questions

The Education and Training Reform Amendment (School Age) Bill 2009, increased the minimum school leaving age to 17, with effect from 1 January 2010.

What is the participation requirement?

All Victorian students must complete Year 10. After Year 10 and until the age of 17 students must be:

  • in school, or registered for home schooling, OR
  • in approved education or training (e.g. TAFE, traineeship, apprenticeship), OR
  • in full-time paid employment, OR
  • in a combination of 1, 2 and/or 3

for a minimum of 25 hours per week.

When did the participation requirement commence?

The current participation requirement took effect on 1 January 2010.

Can a young person complete Year 10 not at a school?

Yes, they can complete Year 10 at a non-school education or training provider. This includes the completion of a nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) course at Certificate I level or above.

However, in most cases people under the age of 17 would be expected to complete Year 10 at a school

What does 'complete Year 10' mean?

The completion of Year 10 is defined as the completion of a program of study at a registered school or as part of registered home schooling in Victoria or in another State, Territory, or country that would ordinarily entitle the student to progress to a senior secondary course, or the completion of a nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) course as equivalent to Certificate I level or above.

What are the alternatives for people under 17 who don’t want to go to school?

The changes are not intended to limit the choices of young people, but to encourage and enable them to choose an option which suits them best. For people who have completed Year 10, the changes do not mean that they have to stay at school; they can leave school to undertake education and training at another organisation or employment, or a combination of these.

Who can access a government-funded place at a vocational education and training provider?

All eligible young people aged between 15 and 19 years have an entitlement to an education or training place at a vocational education and training provider for any government-subsidised qualification, subject to admission requirements and course availability. To meet the eligibility requirements for a government-subsidised place in vocational education and training, a student must be either:

  • an Australian citizen
  • an Australian Permanent Resident (holder of a permanent visa)
  • a holder of a Special Category Visa (sub-class 444, New Zealand citizen)
  • an East Timorese asylum seeker, or
  • a holder of a Temporary Protection Visa.

Students should contact their provider directly for questions about government funded training. To find the locations and contact details of TAFE institutes, see: Skills Victoria's Find a Location

What if the course a student is undertaking is less than 25 hours per week?

If a course of education or training is considered to be full time by the provider of the education or training, even it has less than 25 contact hours per week, it is sufficient to meet the participation requirement.

What if there are no alternatives available locally for people under 17 who don’t want to go to school?

Victoria’s education and training system is one of the best in the world, and there are many avenues available to young people if they cannot find an option which suits them. Young people can contact their school’s careers counsellor or contact the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development regional office to access assistance in locating a course, apprenticeship or other pathway to their chosen career.

If you want to leave school to get a job, but are unable to find employment, it is a good idea to improve your skills and experience by undertaking some form of further education and training. Research demonstrates that young people without qualifications or experience will generally have lower career prospects in the long term, and earn less over the course of their careers.

Online, YouthCentral is the Victorian Government’s website for young people to find information about jobs and careers, study and training, and opportunities for young Victorians. For more information, see: YouthCentral

You can visit your local Centrelink office if you would like assistance in finding a job. Centrelink are able to provide free access to a computer for young people to source Career information. For more information, see: Centrelink

For career information in Victoria, young people can call 1800 048 524 to talk to someone at the Melbourne Career Information Centre.

For information about apprenticeships and the incentives available to undertake an apprenticeship, see: Australian Apprenticeship Centres

Do schools have to chase up students under 17 who have left school to make sure they are meeting the participation requirement?

There is no change to expectations of schools due to the new participation requirement. The School Accountability and Improvement Framework requires government schools to strive to achieve successful student transitions and pathways. The Victorian Government has committed to strengthening school responsibility for monitoring young people’s pathways until they complete Year 12 or equivalent. The Managed Individual Pathways (MIPs) initiative enables schools to monitor students after they have left school, and it is expected that schools continue to utilise MIPs effectively after the new participation requirement is introduced.

Is any support available to assist schools and Regional offices to maintain student participation and engagement?

Schools already have access to a wide range of resources and support to maintain student participation and engagement. For more information, see:

  • Careers Development and Youth Transition - describes the range of programs and tools available to schools to assist them to support students in choosing their options and navigating their pathway from compulsory schooling to further education, training and employment.
  • Student Health and Wellbeing - outlines the range of measures in place to ensure children and students are supported and have proper access to health and safety services.

Under the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions, Youth Connections will commence 1 January 2010. Youth Connections will provide case-managed support and linkages with wider community activities to help young people to build resilience, skills and attributes that promote positive choices and wellbeing. The service will focus on assisting those who are already disengaged, or most at risk of disengaging, to re-connect with education or training, while supporting schools to assist student transitions.

Local Learning and Employment Networks also provide support through the development of collaborative partnerships and networks, with the objective of improving participation, engagement, attainment, and transition outcomes for young people 10-19 years old.

For more information, see: LLENS and Other Networks

Will school students still be able to be employed?

There is no change to the Child Employment Act, so young people aged 15 years and over will still be able to work part time while they are attending school.

Can young people under 17 years old leave school to take up a job?

Yes, as long as they have completed Year 10 and are employed for a minimum of 25 hours per week.

If a young person leaves school and doesn’t have a job, will they still be eligible to receive Youth Allowance?

Changes have been made to Youth Allowance eligibility, which mean that most young people must be undertaking education or training for at least 25 hours per week in order to receive Youth Allowance.

There are some situations which might mean a young person on Youth Allowance won’t be able to work or study for 25 hours per week. Centrelink will work with every person to find the best options for them. For further information, see the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ Youth Allowance

Are the school or student required to undertake a process or obtain written exemption from attending school if they meet the necessary criteria?

Existing processes for obtaining an exemption as determined by the Department’s regional offices will apply.

Can 16 year olds access school bus services or concession fares for public transport?

As long as your child remains in the school system (primary or secondary), their eligibility to access school bus services will not be influenced by changes to the compulsory schooling age, as age is not an eligibility criterion for this service.

The age at which students are required to obtain a valid concession card to purchase concession fares for public transport has recently been increased from 15 to 17 years. This means that between the ages of four and 16 years inclusive, children can purchase concession tickets without requiring a concession card.

Please refer to the Department of Transport’s School bus website for further information regarding school bus services, or the Public Transport Victoria website for further information on public buses and concession fares.