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. Effect of a community service order on participation payments


Subject to the usual qualifications and the terms of the order, JSP and YA (other) may be paid to income support recipients on a program of a CSO nature.

Explanation: Recipients on these programs may not be considered to be in prison as they have the ability to work, search for work, and be financially responsible for themselves and any dependants.

Additional factors to consider in determining payability for participation payments

The following factors should be considered when assessing whether the requirements of the order will allow the recipient to satisfy mutual obligation requirements, and qualify for JSP, YA (other) or PP (for those with mutual obligation requirements):

  • provision to search for and take up new employment
  • ability to attend interviews, AND
  • whether any payment received by the recipient belongs to them.

Explanation: Orders are at the discretion of the judge, and therefore may vary.

CSO programs

If a recipient has a CSO requiring more than 20 hours per week attendance, they can be given a special circumstances exemption from mutual obligation requirements ( This would provide exemption for up to 13 weeks.

If a recipient has a CSO of up to 20 hours a week, that is part-time, they remain subject to mutual obligation requirements; however, the CSO should take precedence. Where there are schedule conflicts between the times and days of the CSO and participation in activities, the provider should discuss with the job seeker alternative activities that accommodate the CSO requirements while fulfilling the job seeker's mutual obligation requirements.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(5) For the purposes of this Act, a person is in gaol if …, section 1158 Some social security payments not payable during period in gaol or in psychiatric confinement following criminal charge

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for JSP, 3.11 Mutual obligation requirements, 3.11.3 Suitable activities, 3.11.5 Exemptions - overview, Special circumstances

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