The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Duty to invite claims or volunteer information

Volunteering information

As a general principle, Centrelink has no duty to volunteer information in relation to social security entitlements (1.1.S.70). Generally, failure to provide such advice will not be treated as negligent.

Exception: If there is a practice to provide such advice in certain circumstances and the person concerned was aware of, and relied on, the practice, this may amount to negligence.

Inviting claims

The question of negligence often arises if Centrelink fails to invite a person to claim a benefit. There is generally no negligence in these cases, as any action to advise individuals of their potential entitlements and invite a claim is entirely voluntary. Centrelink does not have an obligation to inform individuals of their potential entitlements.

In order for an individual to establish that Centrelink was negligent in not inviting them to lodge a claim, they need to show that Centrelink had a voluntary practice to invite claims in that instance and that the individual relied on that practice as a basis for their own actions. Also, even if the individual relied on this practice, they would have to show it was reasonable for them to rely on it without querying whether they were entitled to another payment.

Example: Senua is 67 years old and recently had an FTB child come into her care. She makes a claim for FTB and it is granted. Based on her age, Senua is also potentially entitled to Age, but in order to access this payment she would need to submit a separate claim, as Centrelink does not have enough information on hand to establish that she would be eligible. A few years later, Senua claims and is granted Age and becomes aware that she would have been entitled to it at the same time she claimed FTB, but Centrelink did not invite her to claim at this time. Senua seeks compensation from Centrelink on the basis it did not make her aware of her potential entitlements. Compensation was not payable, as Centrelink did not have a duty of care to invite a claim for Age at the time of the FTB claim, nor did it have a voluntary process to invite Age claims where it had a suspicion an individual would be entitled, which Senua could have reasonably relied on.

Policy reference: FA Guide Duty of care

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