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. Payment nominees

Protection of individual's interests

Generally, an individual who wants their payments, including advance payments, to go to another person on an ongoing basis can request the appointment of a 'payment nominee'. Full consideration should be given to the specific circumstances of the individual and other avenues of payments to a third party to ensure that a payment nominee arrangement is the correct arrangement for the individual.

In practice, a person who is eligible for FTB is unlikely to be in a situation where payment should be directed to a nominee for instalment payments. If a nominee is needed, it is likely that the person is unable to provide enough care for a child to meet the FTB child eligibility requirements, or the Secretary has appointed a payment nominee due to the issuing of a security notice.

To appoint a nominee the relevant form should be completed. The nominee is required to indicate their acceptance of appointment and their obligations under FA law. Letters of the nominee appointment are to be sent to both the individual and the nominee.

An appropriate payment nominee is not limited to being an individual. It can be a community organisation or body corporate. When appointing a nominee, the decision maker should:

  • investigate what individual or organisation might be the most appropriate payment nominee in the circumstances, and
  • obtain any necessary information that may be needed to make this assessment (this includes making the proposed principle aware of the nominee intention).

If a case involves a child of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander group or a refugee child, then a social worker should be involved and consult with:

  • an ISO on any relevant cultural issues, or
  • an MSO to identify any relevant cultural factors.

The Secretary may suspend or cancel the appointed payment nominee at any time.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 219TB Appointment of payment nominee, section 219TD Provisions relating to appointments, section 219TE Suspension and cancellation of nominee appointments

Policy reference: FA Guide 1.1.C.90 Care (FTB), Death of an FTB or regular care child, 4.1.3 Nominees, Responsibilities of nominees, 4.3.6 Payments to a third party, 4.4.10 Security notice issued

Individual's capacity to consent

Whenever there is any question of the individual's capability to consent to the appointment of a nominee or any concerns as to an existing arrangement, the delegate must investigate the situation further. Where the individual is deemed incapable of providing consent the delegate must obtain documentary evidence to support any decision to appoint a nominee.

There may be times where an individual is not capable, for example due to an intellectual/physical constraint, of consenting to the appointment of a nominee. In these cases, a delegate may appoint a nominee on behalf of the individual with attention to supporting evidence and where the delegate is fully satisfied that the nominee is required and will act in the individual's best interests. The decision made by the delegate to appoint a nominee in these circumstances must be fully documented.

Where an individual has a psychiatric disability, a nominee can be appointed in these instances where there is a court-appointed arrangement such as a Guardianship Order provided by the Mental Health Tribunal.

Where an individual is subject to a security notice or is charged with murder

Where an individual is subject to a security notice (4.4.10) or is charged and confined in relation to the death of their FTB child/ren, the Secretary may direct that any FA payments be made to a payment nominee appointed by the Secretary.

In such situations, the consent of the individual to the nominee arrangement would generally not be required.

However, in the case of a person who is faced with murder charges in relation to an FTB child in their care, the payment nominee is still required to act in the best interest of the principal (the person who is faced with murder charges). It may be arguable that this includes spending the money on expenses still associated with any children (including deceased) of the principal.

Act reference: FAAct section 57GI(5) For the purposes of subsection (4), paragraph 219TD(2)(b) …, section 57GI(6) For the purposes of subsection (4), section 219TN …

FA(Admin)Act section 219TD Provisions relating to appointments, section 219TN Duty of nominee to principal

Evidence of incapability

To decide whether an individual is incapable of consenting to the appointment of a nominee, a delegate must have sufficient evidence.

Examples of what may contribute to evidence may be:

  • reliable medical evidence on file, or
  • recent certification by a medical practitioner, or
  • reliable documentation or order officially appointing a guardian or administrator, such as a Public Trustee or Guardianship Board, or
  • some other authoritative source, such as a social work report.

Other arrangements

There are some instances where the appointment of a nominee may not be the most appropriate option to meet the best interests of the individual.

When responding to a third party requesting information regarding the individual's payments, it may be more appropriate to consider the release of information under implied consent arrangements rather than by appointing a nominee.

Example: An individual is in a coma and someone needs to obtain information about their payment details on their behalf. A hospital social worker calls Centrelink in an attempt to obtain the information. It may be appropriate in this case for a Centrelink worker to disclose the individual's payment details to the hospital worker.

Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 168(1) Disclosure of information by Secretary

Privacy Act 1988 section 14 Australian Privacy Principles, Schedule 1 clause 6 Australian Privacy Principle 6-use or disclosure of personal information

Policy reference: Australian Privacy Principles guidelines

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