Act of grace payments

The Commonwealth can make an act of grace payment if the decision maker considers it is appropriate because of special circumstances.

Act of grace payments are discretionary. There is no situation which creates an automatic entitlement to an act of grace payment.

When is it appropriate to consider making a request for consideration an act of grace payment?

If a request relates to the actions of a State or Territory Government Department, or a Private Organisation (i.e. does not relate to the acts or policies of a Non-Corporate Commonwealth entity), an act of grace payment is unlikely to be appropriate. You should contact the relevant organisation to discuss the options available to you.

Additionally, an act of grace payment is unlikely to be appropriate if your request relates to the actions or policies of a Corporate Commonwealth entity or Commonwealth Company. You should ensure you have discussed your concerns with the relevant Commonwealth agency before making a request.

An act of grace payment is more likely to be appropriate if there is a link to the work of a Non-Corporate Commonwealth entity.

The act of grace mechanism is generally an avenue of last resort. If you have other options available to address your situation, an act of grace payment may not be appropriate. 

Other options that may be available to you include:

  • Internal review through the Non-Corporate Commonwealth entity
  • The Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (CDDA Scheme)
  • External review through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Inspector-General of Taxation
  • Legal action through the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the RMG-401 – Applications for discretionary financial assistance under the PGPA Act provides more detailed information on when an act of grace payment may be appropriate.  

What are special circumstances?

Special circumstances are not defined in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

If you make a request for consideration of an act of grace payment, you will need to explain why you consider there are special circumstances that are specific to your situation. There may be special circumstances if, for example:

  • A Non-Corporate Commonwealth entity has taken action, or failed to take action, and this has caused an unintended and inequitable result for you
  • Commonwealth legislation or policy has had an unintended, anomalous, inequitable or otherwise unacceptable impact on you
  • The matter is not covered by legislation or specific policy, but the Commonwealth Government intends to introduce such legislation or policy.

Will my financial circumstances be taken into account?

Act of grace payments are not intended to address financial hardship. If you are facing financial hardship, you should contact Centrelink to discuss what Commonwealth support may be available to you.

Your personal circumstances, particularly the impact of the decision or action of the Commonwealth on you may be relevant to your request for consideration, you should outline how the Commonwealth has affected your personal circumstances. The Statement of Financial Details form may assist you to outline your personal circumstances and may be submitted with your request for consideration.

Who can request consideration of an act of grace payment?

An individual, partnership or organisation can request consideration of an act of grace payment.

You can request consideration of an act of grace payment on behalf of any individual, partnership or organisation, provided they have authorised you to do so. Please submit an instrument of authorisation with your application.

Who decides whether to make an act of grace payment?

The Finance Minister holds the power to authorise an act of grace payment, under section 65 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. This power has been delegated to officials within Finance.


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