Act of Grace Payments

Please note that from 1 July 2014, decisions on requests for act of grace payments will be made under section 65(1) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The information on this page is no longer current. Please refer to current information on the act of grace mechanism.

What is the act of grace power?

The act of grace power is intended to ensure consistency and equity in the impact of government activities where other legislative and administrative provisions do not take sufficient account of the unique circumstances of individual cases.

The act of grace power is available to provide a remedy for all Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) agencies. List of FMA Act agencies.

Act of grace payments are discretionary. This means there is no situation which creates an automatic entitlement to a payment.

Who has the authority to make an act of grace payment?

The act of grace power is found in section 33 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 [External Site]. It allows the Finance Minister to authorise one-off or periodic payments.

The act of grace power has been delegated to officials within the Department of Finance. Policy guidelines for the act of grace mechanism are available in Finance Circular 2009/09: Discretionary Compensation and Waiver of Debt Mechanisms.

When are act of grace payments made?

Act of grace payments are discretionary. This means there is no situation which creates an automatic entitlement to a payment. They may be made by the Finance Minister or delegate when it is considered appropriate to do so because of special circumstances.

The act of grace mechanism is generally an avenue of last resort and is used only where there is no other viable avenue to provide redress.

What are special circumstances?

Special circumstances are not defined but may apply where a decision maker is satisfied that:

  • the action or inaction of the Australian Government has directly resulted in a loss; or
  • the application of Commonwealth legislation or policy has caused an unintentional or inequitable outcome; or
  • there is some other relevant anomaly or moral imperative.

Who can apply for an act of grace payment?

Any individual, company or other organisation can apply for an act of grace payment, either for themselves or for an authorised third party.

How do I apply?

Claims are made in writing. Face-to-face meetings are generally not conducted.

You can apply for an act of grace payment by completing the application form.

Please include all relevant evidence in support of your application e.g. correspondence between yourself and the relevant Government agency, medical certificates etc.

Please send your completed application to:

Discretionary Payments Section
Risk, Insurance and Special Claims Branch
Department of Finance
John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace
PARKES ACT 2600

When will a decision be made?

Generally, the Department of Finance will seek information about your application from relevant Government agencies.

A copy of the agency€™s advice will be provided to you for an opportunity to comment, prior to a decision being made.

Once all relevant information is available, the request will be submitted for a decision as soon as practicable.

The decision maker will provide you with an explanation of his or her decision in writing.

The investigation of your application may be a lengthy process. Should you wish to find out about the progress of your application, you can contact the Discretionary Payments Section via telephone on 1800 227 572 or via email at sfc@finance.gov.au.

What happens if my application is successful?

Act of grace payments are paid by the department or agency to which the request relates. Once an act of grace payment has been authorised, the Department of Finance will ask the relevant agency to make the payment.

What options do I have if my application is unsuccessful?

Generally, a request will not be reconsidered unless you can show that the decision maker made a serious factual mistake or if you provide relevant new evidence.

A Complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman

If you are dissatisfied with the way the Department of Finance handled your request for an act of grace payment, you can ask the Commonwealth Ombudsman to investigate. Investigations are independent, informal, private and free. The Ombudsman cannot investigate actions or decisions by a Minister.

If the Ombudsman decides to investigate your case, you and the Department of Finance will receive a report of findings from the investigation. The Ombudsman may make a recommendation to the Department for the matter to be considered again, but cannot change the decision.

You can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman on the following details:

Phone: 1300 362 072
Postal: Commonwealth Ombudsman
GPO Box 442
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Website: www.ombudsman.gov.au

Review under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977

Decisions about act of grace payments can be reviewed by the Federal Circuit Court and the Federal Court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (ADJR Act). The grounds for review include a breach of the rules of natural justice or an error of law. You are also able to request a statement of reasons for the decision, within 28 days, under the ADJR Act. The statement will restate the reasons that you have already been given, formally setting out the facts, evidence used, and reasons for the decision.

The Court can set aside the decision and refer the case back to Finance for further consideration, but cannot review the merits of the decision, or substitute a decision to make a payment. Regardless of any view expressed by the Court, a decision maker may again decide not to approve a payment.

The ADJR Act prescribes various time limits and fees, and you may also face an award of costs if an application for judicial review is unsuccessful. You can find out more about your options under the ADJR Act and judicial review at www.fedcourt.gov.au [External Site].

It is recommended that you seek independent legal advice if considering judicial review.

Contacting the Discretionary Payments Section

For further information, you can contact the Discretionary Payments Section from Monday to Friday 9am €“ 5pm (AEST).

Phone:

1800 227 572 (calls from mobile phones at mobile phone rates)

Email: sfc@finance.gov.au
Postal: Discretionary Payments Section
Risk, Insurance and Special Claims Branch
Department of Finance
John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace
PARKES ACT 2600

Feedback

Your feedback is important to us. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about this site or any information contained in this site, please email us at sfc@finance.gov.au.


Back to top