Special circumstances - compliance 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 only applies to the attendance component of SEAM.

Special circumstances

Different special circumstance provisions apply for notices issued under the enrolment component and the attendance component respectively.

SS(Admin)Act section 124NE(2) effectively provides that a person's schooling requirement payment may not be suspended/cancelled (as relevant) if DHS determines, in accordance with the Social Security (Administration) (Schooling Requirement) Determination 2009 (No. 1), that there are special circumstances that apply to a person on a particular day that justify the person's failure to comply with the compliance notice.

Under these circumstances, the parent will remain subject to SEAM and continue to receive support from DHS to address barriers impacting on the parent's ability to ensure the regular school attendance of their child.

A special circumstance should only be determined to apply where there has been a clear material impact on the ability of the parent to comply with a compliance notice, such that the failure to comply is justified. The circumstance may be unfortunate, but unless it directly impacts on the ability of the parent to meet the requirements of the compliance notice, it should not be considered a special circumstance.

When DHS determines that special circumstances apply, it may be clear that the special circumstances will continue to apply to the person for a certain period of time. For example, if a person has undergone a medical operation and it is clear that they will not be sufficiently recovered to comply with the compliance notice for another month. In such situations, DHS may determine that special circumstances will apply for a limited period of time, depending on the nature of the circumstances applying to the person. At the end of the special circumstance period, a decision will be made as to whether the special circumstances still apply. If it is determined that these circumstances no longer apply, the person will be subject to the suspension of their schooling requirement payment should they fail to comply with a compliance notice.

Example: Tanya lives in a SEAM location that has just been subject to a natural disaster. She received a compliance notice the day before the disaster occurred. However, DHS has not been advised and after 14 days suspend Tanya's schooling requirement payment. The disaster meant that Tanya was prevented from complying with the compliance notice. In this case, DHS, will determine special circumstances apply and restore Tanya's payment with back pay. After the end of the special circumstances period, Tanya will again have her schooling requirement payments suspended and will need to comply with her compliance notice in order to have her payments restored.

Last reviewed: 5 February 2018