3.5.5 CCS & ACCS - Exceptional Circumstances
- do not meet and are not exempt from the CCS activity test and require access to subsidised care,
- meet or are exempt from the CCS activity test but require access to additional hours of subsidised child care.
The Centrelink delegate will make the decision on a case-by-case basis.
This section includes:
- change of circumstances,
In certain circumstances it would be unreasonable for an individual and, if they have one, their partner (1.1.P.30), to satisfy the activity test or care for their or their partner's children. The exceptional circumstances provision ensures individuals have sufficient access to child care to enable children to be safely cared for while their parent/s or carer/s are otherwise engaged due to exceptional circumstances.
In exceptional circumstances parents can make an application to Centrelink to make a case and provide documentary evidence of their circumstances. Centrelink will consider these circumstances and make a case‑by-case determination of the hours of subsidised care parents will be entitled to, which could be more than 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight, and the length of time the exceptional circumstances activity test will apply for (no longer than one year).
If the individual is a member of a couple (1.1.M.50), they will need to demonstrate the exceptional circumstances impact both themselves and their partner. If the exceptional circumstances only relate to the individual, the family's result will still be based on the lower of the individual and their partner's results. This means, for example, if the individual was meeting the activity test through paid work with a result of 100 hours per fortnight and their partner was not undertaking any activity but has been granted an exceptional circumstances activity test result of 72 hours, the family's activity test result will be 72 hours per fortnight (the lower of the individual and their partner's results).
The individual WILL be required to provide evidence to support their exceptional circumstances application. Evidence could include, but is not limited to:
- court documentation,
- medical or death certificates,
- declaration of natural disaster,
- signed statement from social worker, counsellor, doctor, or other party,
- receipts and invoices of medical and funeral expenses,
- fire report, police report or insurance report,
- any other evidence that the individual has that could explain their circumstances.
If documentation cannot be provided (e.g. due to an emergency situation), a statutory declaration supporting the individual's submission must be submitted.
Change of circumstances
If an individual's circumstances change, and the exceptional circumstances no longer apply (for example, the individual is no longer in hospital), they are obliged to notify Centrelink of the change. Once the individual has notified Centrelink, they may no longer have an entitlement to CCS (unless they are undertaking recognised activity or are otherwise exempt from the activity test).
Types of exceptional circumstances
Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to, where the individual, their partner or the child are:
- affected by domestic violence (1.1.F.15),
- experiencing serious illness or a medical condition or hospitalisation preventing an individual from working or caring for their child,
- experiencing serious mental health issues that prevent the individual working or caring for the child,
- participating in a treatment or rehabilitation program to address substance abuse issues that prevents the individual working or caring for the child,
- impacted by significant trauma,
- experiencing short-term incapacity,
- attending a funeral or bereavement service or the resolution of an estate where long distance travel is required,
- responding to an emergency in their capacity as an employee (e.g. State Emergency Service (SES) during fires),
- complying with a compulsory obligation imposed by the court (e.g. undertaking community service, being on jury duty or being a witness).
Exceptional circumstances do NOT include where individuals use more sessions of care (1.1.S.40) than their subsidised hours because of child care services' (1.1.A.90) charging practices. For example, because the individual works full time and their child attends a child care service that charges 12 hour sessions, meaning they do not have enough subsidised care to cover the child's attendance at the service 5 days a week.
Example 1: Juliet leaves her home with her 2 children to move into crisis accommodation due to domestic violence. She is not able to work or undertake any other recognised activities during this time but requires access to subsidised child care to ensure her children are safely cared for, to provide continuity for the children during this period and to enable Juliet to set up a life away from her partner. Juliet is eligible for ACCS (child wellbeing) but also makes an exceptional circumstances activity test application, explaining that she will need to place both her children in long day care each day until she finds secure accommodation. The delegate determines Juliet's activity test result to be 120 hours per fortnight for 2 CCS fortnights.
Example 2: James is a single father who works and has an activity test result of 72 hours per fortnight. James also volunteers with the SES. A fire is threatening James' local area and he is asked to participate in fighting fires and be on call for the next week. James makes an exceptional circumstances submission outlining that he requires constant care from his FDC educator for his 5 year old daughter Alice for this week to enable him to fight fires and be on call, and that as a single father he has no one else who can care for Alice who is not old enough to be left alone. James' activity test result is increased to 336 hours for 2 weeks to ensure he can be available to carry out his duties as an SES volunteer.
Example 3: Marlene and Ian each work 5 days a week and are entitled to 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight (step 3 of the activity test). Their child care service charges for 12 hour sessions of care meaning Marlene's child Anne uses 120 hours of care per fortnight. If Marlene made an exceptional circumstances request for additional hours of subsidised care, Marlene and Ian's activity test result will NOT be increased because this is a routine occurrence resulting from the business practices of approved providers (1.1.A.90).
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 2 clause 11(2) Exceptional circumstances result, Schedule 2 clause 11(3) Exceptional circumstances result
Policy reference: FA Guide 3.5.2 CCS - Activity Test
ACCS individuals & exceptional circumstances
In exceptional circumstances, individuals can apply to receive more than 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight. Individuals can also apply to receive a payment rate that is higher than 120% of the relevant hourly rate cap.
The following table explains which ACCS element attracts what form of exceptional circumstances outcome for individuals only:
|Type of addition||ACCS (child wellbeing), ACCS (grandparent), ACCS (temporary financial hardship)||ACCS (transition to work)|
|Increase in hours of care||Yes||Yes|
|Increase in rate of subsidy||Yes||No|
What constitutes 'exceptional circumstances', and what evidence (if any) needs to be provided, is not prescribed. This is because an exceptional circumstance is generally unusual or 'out of the ordinary' in terms of its impact on the particular family using child care.
ACCS (child wellbeing) approved providers & exceptional circumstances
Approved providers can apply for additional hours of care or an increased rate of subsidy in cases of particular need or vulnerability where the child is enrolled as 'ACCS (child wellbeing) - provider eligible'.
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 2 clause 6 Hourly rate of ACCS (child wellbeing), ACCS (temporary financial hardship) or ACCS (grandparent), Schedule 2 clause 9 Hourly rate of ACCS for a provider, Schedule 2 clause 11(2) Exceptional circumstances result, Schedule 2 clause 11(3) Exceptional circumstances result