6.11 Compensation & waiver of debts
In certain circumstances, a parent may be eligible for compensation from the Commonwealth for mistakes made in the management of their case, or may be eligible for waiver of a debt owed to the Commonwealth where the collection of that debt would be considered inequitable, or would cause ongoing financial hardship.
How to make a claim for compensation
If a person believes that they are entitled to compensation they need to apply in writing.
Information about discretionary compensation mechanisms is available on the Services Australia website (Claiming compensation from us).
Settlement of claims
Services Australia can only spend public monies in the ways specified by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.
The policy for payment of legal claims is set out in the Legal Services Directions 2017 at Appendix C - Handling monetary claims. The principles for deciding and settling claims are set out in Appendix B - The Commonwealth's obligation to act as a model litigant.
How to apply for waiver of a debt owed to the Commonwealth
A person may owe a debt to the Commonwealth, for example, a child support debt or a debt arising from an overpayment of child support.
A request for waiver of a Commonwealth debt can be made directly to the Department of Finance using the Application for a Waiver of Debt owed to the Government form. The Department of Finance will notify Services Australia when a request for waiver is received.
Requests for a waiver are considered on a case by case basis. A waiver may be appropriate where recovery of the debt would be inequitable, or recovery of the debt would cause ongoing financial hardship. A debt is unlikely to be waived where it is a debt that is owed to the Commonwealth that will be paid on to a third party.
A debt owing to the Commonwealth can only be waived by the Finance Minister or authorised delegates of the Department of Finance (PGPA Act section 63).
The waiver powers are intended to be used in a limited number of cases to ensure equity in the impact of Government activities.