1.3.5 Act of Grace Payments

What is an act of grace payment?

An act of grace payment is a special 'gift of money' by the Commonwealth. They are payments that fall outside statutory entitlements.

Generally, act of grace payments are a means of providing compensation to persons who may have been unfairly disadvantaged by the Commonwealth but who have no legal claim against it. Other avenues to receive financial assistance from the Australian Government should be investigated before a request is made for an act of grace payment.

When is an act of grace payment made?

An act of grace payment may be appropriate in relation to special circumstances that have occurred as a direct result of:

  • the involvement of an agency of the Australian Government, where that involvement had an unintended outcome in the applicant's circumstance, or
  • the application of Commonwealth legislation or policy, which has resulted in an unintended, inequitable or anomalous effect on the applicant's particular circumstances (including in cases where the agency has acted correctly in administering the legislation involved), and
  • where the paramount obligation to the applicant is moral, rather than legal.

How to apply for an act of grace payment

Claims are made in writing and application forms are available from the Department of Finance website.

When can an act of grace payment NOT be made?

An act of grace payment cannot be made if:

  • the case relates to defective administration, or
  • the matter can be justly or legally considered under any Enactment.

Example: Any case that can be settled under Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 cannot be paid as an act of grace payment.

For further explanation of this topic, refer to Resource Management Guide No.401 Requests for discretionary financial assistance under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act.

Act reference: Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 section 65 Act of grace payments by the Commonwealth

Last reviewed: 8 May 2017