Suspension of income support payment under 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.

Enrolment component

A parent's schooling requirement payment ceases to be payable where a parent has NOT complied with an enrolment notice and ALL of the following factors are met:

  • the initial compliance period and any extension period have ended,
  • the parent does not have a reasonable excuse for failing to comply, and/or
  • there are no special circumstances that apply that make it appropriate for the parent's payments to not be suspended.

Attendance component

A parent's schooling requirement payment ceases to be payable where a parent has NOT complied with a compliance notice except when:

  • there are special circumstances that apply that justify the failure to comply with the compliance notice, and/or
  • the parent has been fined under a state or territory law in relation to the failure of the parent's child/children to attend school and DHS determines that a suspension should not apply to the person.

Suspension periods are cumulative

A schooling requirement payment CANNOT be cancelled unless the payment has been suspended for 13 weeks or more. The 13 week suspension period does not need to be a continuous period, but it MUST relate to a particular notice.

Particular notice

For the purposes of calculating a total suspension period of 13 weeks the suspension MUST relate to EITHER:

  • a particular school enrolment notice, OR
  • a particular compliance notice.

Suspension periods arising from non-compliance with enrolment notices or compliance notices issued separately for different children or on different occasions CANNOT be added together to arrive at a 13 week total.

Note: The 13 week total is only calculated per notice issued to the parent. For example, if a parent has their schooling requirement payment suspended for 7 weeks due to non-compliance with an enrolment notice, and then at a later time are issued with a compliance notice and their payment is suspended a second time for 6 weeks for non-compliance, the suspension periods are NOT added together.

Example 1: Bob has had his payments suspended on 2 different occasions, once for 6 weeks and once for 8 weeks, both times because he failed to attend a conference. However, the suspensions were in relation to 2 different compliance notices. One failure was in relation to his non attendance at the compulsory conference for his son Dean and the other for not following the attendance plan he agreed to in relation to improving Dean's attendance. Bob will not have his payment cancelled as the suspensions relate to different notices.

Concurrent suspension periods

If the parent is already subject to a suspension period for a reason other than suspension under SEAM, the SEAM suspension runs concurrently with the existing suspension.

Example: A schooling requirement payment recipient is sent a non-SEAM notice asking them to provide certain information about their income and assets. They fail to provide this information and their payment is suspended.

The recipient is also subject to SEAM requirements and has been sent an enrolment notice in respect of their child. They fail to provide details of the child's enrolment (and there are no special circumstances or a reasonable excuse for not providing enrolment details) and a SEAM suspension is applied.

Given that the recipient's payment has already been suspended for not providing income and asset information, the SEAM suspension period overlaps this suspension, so the participant's schooling requirement payment is being suspended for TWO different reasons at the same time.

In order to have both of the suspensions lifted, the recipient MUST provide DHS with their income and asset details AND their child's enrolment details.

Period of suspension

Once payment has been suspended for 13 weeks or more a decision will usually be made to cancel a parent's payment UNLESS the parent has a reasonable excuse (if relevant) or special circumstances apply.

Suspension - parent subsequently no longer in scope for SEAM

IF a parent's schooling requirement payment is suspended under SEAM AND the parent ceases to be a schooling requirement person, THEN a decision will made to reinstate their payment (assuming they are still qualified for that payment).

Example: Elizabeth's schooling requirement payment was suspended from 1 July because she did not comply with a compliance notice in relation to her daughter Mary's non-attendance at school. Mary turned 17 on 5 August and was no longer required to attend school under the relevant state legislation. As Elizabeth's payment had been suspended for less than 13 weeks the decision to reinstate her payments as SEAM no longer applies to her.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 124H(2)(a) School enrolment-suspension or cancellation for non-compliance with enrolment notice, section 124M(2)(a) School attendance-suspension or cancellation for non-compliance with attendance notice, section 124(2) Scope, section 124NF School attendance - suspension or cancellation for non-compliance with compliance notice

Last reviewed: 5 February 2018