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. Reasonable excuse (DSP)


Without a reasonable excuse, a DSP recipient who is subject to participation requirements ( may have their DSP suspended or cancelled if they fail to undertake any of their participation requirements, which include:

  • attending participation interviews
  • signing a participation plan with a compulsory work-focused activity, and
  • undertaking the compulsory work-focused activity.

The following are instances where it is reasonable not to undertake participation requirements for a particular period of time:

If the person has … Additional information
a medical certificate from a medical practitioner stating the person is temporarily unable to work 8 or more hours a week for a period specified on the medical certificate limited to a maximum of 13 weeks.
an exacerbation of an existing episodic medical condition which is recorded on their Centrelink record and it would be unreasonable to expect the participant to meet their requirements at that time.

evidence of personal circumstances beyond their control, including but not limited to:

  • major personal crisis
  • cases of domestic violence
  • unexpected caring responsibilities

and it would be unreasonable to expect the participant to meet their requirements at that time.

In this topic - examples of evidence are provided below this table.

system-recorded vulnerability indicators the person is a vulnerable individual and it can be determined that it would be unreasonable to expect the participant to meet their requirements at the time.

Evidence for reasonable excuse

Evidence is generally required in order to establish whether there is a reasonable excuse for not participating for a period.

Example: Major personal crisis

The DSP recipient should report details of the major personal crisis, such as what event has occurred and the timeframe it occurred. If relevant, they can provide notes from social workers, police, doctors, hospitals, or community workers, or details of cultural or funeral activities.

Example: Domestic violence

Evidence can include a note from a social worker, a note from emergency accommodation, a note from a medical professional or hospital, or evidence they are staying away from home, such as a change of address. Additionally, at the discretion of a Centrelink social worker, a person may be considered to be excused from their participation activity for a period.

Example: Unexpected caring responsibilities

The DSP recipient should provide details of the caring, such as the duration of the temporary arrangement, the reason they are undertaking the temporary care, their relationship to the person and anything of relevance about the arrangement, such as the age of a child being cared for.

Consideration of evidence of reasonable excuse

Based on evidence, Centrelink decision makers consider if there are extenuating personal circumstances and/or vulnerability indicators and if it would be unreasonable to expect the DSP recipient to undertake the participation activity for a period of time.

Additionally, they give the DSP recipient an opportunity to re-engage with their activity, as well as notifying the person of the possible impact to their payment, such as suspension or cancellation of DSP.


DSP recipients with a reasonable excuse will not have payment suspended or cancelled.

Without reasonable excuse, payment may be suspended or cancelled for not attending scheduled interviews with Centrelink or appointments with an employment service provider, rehabilitation provider, or other provider, not signing a participation plan, or not actively participating in a compulsory activity.

On the first occasion of non-compliance payment is suspended and restored on re-engagement with (generally) back-pay to date of suspension. On the second occasion of non-compliance, payment is suspended and restored on re-engagement without back-pay. On the third occasion of non-compliance within a 12-month period from the first occasion of non-compliance, payment is cancelled and the person will have to reapply for DSP and be reassessed against the current Impairment Tables to determine their eligibility.

Act reference: SSAct section 94A Participation requirements, section 94B Participation plans

SS(Admin)Act section 80 Cancellation or suspension determination, section 85 Resumption of payment after cancellation or suspension …, section 114 Date of effect of other favourable determinations

Policy reference: SS Guide Participation requirements for DSP recipients, Participation requirement exemptions for DSP recipients, Continuation, variation or termination of DSP, 8.6.3 Date of effect of favourable determinations (not involving working credit or student income bank)

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