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.

1.4.5 Act of grace payments

What is an act of grace payment?

An act of grace payment is generally a remedy of last resort to pay an amount to a claimant where it is appropriate to do so, but the family assistance law would not enable payment. It is not used when there is another viable remedy available to provide redress in the circumstances giving rise to the application.

The criteria for act of grace payments are set out in the Department of Finance's Resource Management Guide No. 401.

The Finance Minister may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, authorise one or more payments to be made to a person if the Finance Minister considers it appropriate to do so because of special circumstances.

Examples of special circumstances that may make it appropriate to approve an act of grace payment include instances when:

  • an act of Centrelink has caused an unintended and inequitable result to the individual seeking the payment
  • the application of the legislation or policy produces unintended, anomalous, inequitable, or an otherwise unacceptable impact on the claimant's circumstances, and those circumstances were
    • specific to the individual seeking the payment
    • outside the parameters of events for which the individual seeking the payment was responsible or had the capacity to adequately control
    • consistent with what could be considered to be the broad intention of the relevant legislation
  • the matter is not covered by legislation or specific policy, but the Australian Government intends to introduce such legislation or policy and it is considered desirable in a particular case to apply the benefits of the relevant policy prospectively.

Only the Minister for Finance, or a delegate within the Department of Finance, can authorise an act of grace payment. Centrelink can only make proposals in relation to act of grace payments as Centrelink has no authority to approve act of grace payments.

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

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