Exemptions are the key protective mechanism in the Department of Human Services (Centrelink and the Child Support Agency)

Maintenance Action Test Exemption

In order to receive the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit A, payees are required to take “Maintenance Action”.   This means having a current child support assessment in place; or having an exemption from seeking child support.  Where there is no exemption from seeking maintenance, the payee drops to the base rate of FTB A.

Maintenance Exemptions are used where:

  • The payee fears that if they take action for child support the payer will react violently towards them or their family.
  • Seeking child support may have a harmful or disruptive effect on them or the payer.
  • The paternity is ‘unknown’ which may be a signal that the payee is afraid of violence if paternity is disclosed.
  • Cultural Considerations.

When granted FTB for the first time an automatic 13 week applies. All Exemptions are all assessed by Social workers and during this process a 60 day exemption is granted.


Child Support Partial Exemptions

A partial exemption allows the payee to privately collect an amount of Child Support which is less than the payees full Child Support assessed entitlement without failing the maintenance action test.  It is used where a payee has a fear of violence at the prospect of pursuing their full entitlement.  The exemption ensures that the payees rate of FTB Part A will be based on the amount of child support received, not the amount of the child support assessment.  NCSMC urges all women to seek advice before agreeing to a private collect and be informed that the payee can transfer to child support collect. CSA cannot collect debt whilst in a Private Collect and they can only typically collect for three months when changed to a Child Support Collect.


Participation Exemptions.

New laws designed to assist women experiencing family and domestic violence states that victims of violence MUST be given a 16 week exemption from Participation Requirements which is an exemption from the stated job seeking Participation Obligations.  The Participation Obligations is the appropriate exemption for domestic violence as opposed to the ‘special circumstances’ which provides for an exemption of up to 13 weeks.


Long school holidays and Participation Exemption: have been in place since July 2010 but again not accessed by eligible women.  This exemption provides:

  • An automatic exemption from activity or participation requirements during the fortnight that includes the Christmas and New Year public holidays.
  • Can be exempted from your activity or participation requirements for up to eight weeks, so long as you have employment to return to. You will need to contact Centrelink within the first fortnight of the closure and may need to provide proof of ongoing employment.