Reasonable excuse & special circumstances - enrolment notices (SEAM)

Note: SEAM ceased effective 31 December 2017. The Australian and Northern Territory Governments remain committed to supporting families and communities to get their children to school every day and to improve school attendance in remote communities. Despite the cessation of SEAM, Northern Territory Government Truancy Officers will continue to monitor attendance in select communities and DHS social workers will continue to visit remote communities as part of their general work.

Note: This section applies only to enrolment notices.

Reasonable excuse & special circumstances

The Social Security (Administration) (Schooling Requirement) Determination 2009 (No. 1) provides direction on the reasonable excuse and special circumstances provisions for notices issued under SS(Admin)Act section 124F.

Clause 6 and 7 of the Determination sets out the special circumstances and reasonable excuses that DHS will take into consideration when deciding whether or not payment should be suspended. In deciding if special circumstances exist the decision maker MUST consider the personal and family circumstances of the parent.

A special circumstance should only be granted where there is a clear material impact on the ability of the child to be enrolled in school or for the parent to be able to enrol the child in school.

However where it is determined that a reasonable excuse exists DHS may give the person additional time to comply with the notice under the provisions of clause 6 of the Determination.

Under these circumstances, the parent will remain subject to SEAM and continue to receive support from DHS to address barriers that are impacting on their ability to ensure enrolment of their child in school.

The period of additional time allowed for a person to comply with an enrolment notice must be no longer than reasonably required to address an issue and must take into account any state or territory statutory requirements.

Example: Jessica has just moved from one SEAM location to live in another SEAM location. She had been given an enrolment notice at her previous address because her daughter, Peta, was not enrolled in school. The time allowed for in the enrolment notice expired 2 days after Jessica moved to her new address. State education legislation requires Jessica to enrol Peta in school within 14 days of moving to a new address. In this case, Jessica should notify DHS of her change of address which is a reasonable excuse for not providing enrolment details in response to the original notice. She should then be allowed up to 14 days from the date she moved to her new address to enrol Peta in school and provide details of this enrolment to DHS.

Example: Susan has her schooling requirement income support payment suspended after failing to provide DHS with her son Bob's school enrolment details. The suspension period is lifted and arrears paid when Susan is identified as having a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the requirements of the enrolment notice. As a result, Susan is given more time to arrange Bob's enrolment at school. When the reasonable excuse is reviewed after the extra time, Susan has still not provided Bob's enrolment details to DHS. A social worker from DHS confirms that there are no special circumstances and nor does Susan have a reasonable excuse for her failure to provide Bob's enrolment details to the department. Susan's payment is suspended again against the original notice.

Last reviewed: 5 February 2018