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.

8.5.2 Correspondence nominee


A correspondence nominee arrangement authorises a person or organisation to act and make changes on the principal's behalf.

To appoint a nominee the relevant form for appointing a nominee should be completed. Requests for nominee appointments signed with a cross or mark are NOT to be accepted unless there is supportive evidence as to the principal's incapacity. Such evidence may include a Court, Tribunal, Guardianship or Administration Order or other evidence. If there is no supportive evidence, these cases should be thoroughly investigated prior to any appointment. The nominee is required to indicate their acceptance of appointment and their obligations under social security law via written consent. Letters of the appointment are to be sent to both the principal and the nominee. Letters of the cancellation of the nominee appointment are also to be sent to both the principal and the nominee.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 123A-'principal', section 123D Provisions relating to appointments

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.5.3 Responsibilities of nominee

Principal capability to consent

Whenever there is any question of the principal's capability to consent to the appointment of a nominee or any concerns as to an existing arrangement, the delegate must investigate the situation. The delegate must also consider the effect of family and domestic violence when determining a principal's capacity to consent to the appointment of a nominee. Where the principal is deemed incapable of providing consent the delegate must obtain documentary evidence to support any decision to appoint a nominee.

There may be times where a principal is not capable, for example, due to an intellectual/physical constraint or in some cases because the principal is a young child, of consenting to the appointment of a nominee. In these cases, a delegate may appoint a nominee on behalf of the principal, with attention to supporting evidence and where the delegate is fully satisfied that the nominee is required and will act in the principal's best interests. The decision made by the delegate to appoint a nominee in these circumstances must be fully documented.

Where a principal has a psychiatric disability, a nominee can be appointed in these instances where there is a court-appointed arrangement such as a Guardianship Order.

Evidence of principal's incapability

To decide whether a principal is incapable of consenting to the appointment of a nominee, a delegate must have sufficient evidence.

Examples of what may contribute to evidence may be:

  • reliable medical evidence on file, OR
  • recent certification by a medical practitioner, OR
  • reliable documentation or order officially appointing a guardian or administrator, such as a Public Trustee or Guardianship Board, OR
  • some other authoritative source, such as a social work report.

Other arrangements

There are some instances where the appointment of a nominee may not be the most appropriate option to meet the best interests of the principal.

When responding to a third party requesting information regarding the principal's payments, it may be more appropriate to consider the release of information under IMPLIED CONSENT ARRANGEMENTS rather than by appointing a nominee.

Example: A person has an expected short-term incapability and someone needs to make contact to obtain information on their behalf, such as a hospital social worker rings up the local Centrelink social worker on behalf of a comatose principal, to find out the principal's payment details.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 208(1) Disclosure of information by Secretary

Privacy Act 1988 Schedule 1 clause 6 Australian Privacy Principle 6 - use or disclosure of personal information

Policy reference: Australian Privacy Principle guidelines see guidelines 3.1, 3.64, 3.65, 6.1 and 7.23

Last reviewed: